Measures give win to business
A key transportation ballot measure in Santa Barbara County was approved while a traffic measure in Oxnard was defeated by a landslide in the Nov. 4 election.
With its victory, Santa Barbara County’s Measure A will provide more revenue for transit projects. “We had more votes than we needed,” said a happy Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Chairman Salud Carbajal.
The measure needed a two-thirds majority for approval. Voters approved it with a 78.6 percent majority, or 99,999 ballots cast in favor of it.
“I’m thrilled, ecstatic and very grateful to all the voters in the county,” said Carbajal, who joined with Supervisor Brooks Firestone, a former Republican state assemblyman, in campaigning for Measure A in television commercials.
But not all Republicans agreed with Firestone about the measure.
The Santa Barbara Republican Party campaigned heavily against it, but only convinced 27,174 voters to cast no ballots against it.
Opponents of Measure A said it was just a continuation of an earlier unwanted tax and was not needed.
Santa Barbara County voters in 1989 approved Measure D, a transportation authority ordinance, which imposed a half-cent sales tax and adopted a transportation spending plan. Measure D expires March 31, 2010.
Carbajal said supervisors will have to “debrief” on Measure A and see what transit projects might be funded thanks to its passing. Among them, he said, would be a commuter rail project that could help unsnarl traffic along the Rincon section of Highway 101.
Third District Supervisor-elect Doreen Farr said she shared Carbajal’s enthusiasm for the rail proposal. “We talked about it when I was on the (county) planning commission,” she said.
Carbajal said the revenue generated by the measure could be augmented with future county bond sales.
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, said the overwhelming passage of Measure A succeeded because voters realized the need to fund transportation projects to keep commerce and commuter moving.
“I’m so pleased and that’s a real statement on the behalf of folks who understand the need for our infrastructure,” Capps said. “Transportation is really vital to our way of life.”
Measure A will extend the existing half-cent sales tax for 30 years beginning April 1, 2010. It includes a transportation investment plan, which calls for various projects to be funded by the sales tax revenues.
Under the plan, the North County and the South Coast of Santa Barbara County each receive $455 million to be spent within each region.
About 60 percent of the revenues go to the county and the cities as street and transportation improvement funding. The money will be spent on projects selected by city councils and the board of supervisors.
Measure A also calls for $140 million to be used as matching funds to widen Highway 101 from four to six lanes between Carpinteria and Santa Barbara. It also earmarks $42 million for improvements on Highway 101 in the North County.
Measure V defeated
Meanwhile, the defeat of Oxnard’s Measure V – opposed by many business groups – means commercial projects won’t be restricted.
The measure was Councilman Tim Flynn’s second bid to relieve traffic congestion by requiring public votes on commercial projects near congested areas.
Sixty-two percent of the votes cast on Measure V said no to the plan, which would have been in place for two decades.
It called for any commercial project larger than 10,000 square feet or housing project of five units or more to be submitted to a public vote, unless all intersections within a five-mile radius of the project operated at a certain level of congestion during the previous year.
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