May 18, 2024
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Letter: Why the Santa Barbara chamber opposes Measure P


Dear Editor:

I wanted to take a moment to respond to the letter you recently published from Jim Taylor regarding the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce and its stance on Measure P.

Taylor is not now, nor has he or his company ever been, a member of the chamber. Our 1,000 members all pay dues to the organization to enjoy the benefits of membership, and we are pleased to represent those members in a wide variety of ways.

Even though Taylor is not a chamber member, we were happy to receive the request that was made to obtain our support for Measure P, and began a three-month review of the measure. This review included presentations from both the pro and con side, with each side able to ask questions and engage during the presentations, as well as an additional correspondence directly to the chamber board from the pro side asking for the board’s support.

In the end, we unanimously decided to oppose the measure.

It is unfortunate that Taylor chose to obfuscate our process by clouding it in demagoguery about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Big Oil. We made this decision on our own, and he and supporters of Measure P had a significant amount of time to explain their case to us.

In the end, Measure P is a well-meaning effort to address the concerns raised by its supporters, but which has several fatal flaws which make it impossible to support. While proponents claim existing wells are exempt, the county’s own legal counsel says that is false. While proponents claim that there is no threat from takings claims, the county’s own legal counsel says that the fiscal threat from such claims is substantial.

In fact, Measure P is a perfect example of what happens when a well-meaning group chooses to push its goals through the initiative process instead of working with elected representatives to get measures approved. Initiatives are a take-it-or-leave-it approach to governance that assumes the proponent knows everything on the subject and no one else has any meaningful input to provide. It is anathema to good governance, which allows everyone to have input in a process through a legislative body and allows the best ideas to come to the surface.

Had this idea gone to Board of Supervisors, its merits could have been debated, we could have all had given input and addressed the glaring problems Measure P contains, and we could have hopefully come up with a workable solution.

Once Measure P is defeated, I would encourage Taylor and his supporters to actually get involved in the business community by joining the chamber and engaging with us on the important issues affecting business in the Santa Barbara region. He’ll find us to be an open, welcoming group that encourages discussion and debate.

And I guarantee he won’t hear the words “U.S. Chamber” at all. Not even once.

— Ken Oplinger
President and CEO
Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce