by Nick Welsh
A coalition of anti-alternative transportation campaigners has charged that ballot arguments made on behalf of Measure D are false and misleading. The legal papers challenging the language on Measure D, which is on the ballot this November, were signed by Scott Wenz of Cars Are Basic and Greg Gandrud, a Carpinteria City Councilmember seeking reelection this fall. If passed, the ballot initiative would increase county sales taxes by three-quarters of a cent to fund a host of congestion relief projects, including freeway widening, mass transit, commuter rail, and basic road repairs. Gandrud and Wenz support widening Highway 101 to six lanes, but have opposed many of the other initiatives that would be funded by Measure D, especially commuter rail. Their legal briefs itemize a host of claims made by Measure D supporters, but don’t explain how they are false or misleading.
Gregg Hart of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, the agency sponsoring the renewal and expansion of Measure D, dismissed the legal action as a campaign publicity stunt with no legal significance. But in order to pass, Measure D — which would raise $1.6 billion during 20 years — needs a two-thirds supermajority of county voters; given this difficulty, any opposition could prove fatal. Measure D is backed by an uneasy coalition of environmentalists, alternative transportation advocates, and elected officials who came together only because they realized that if they didn’t, Measure D’s renewal was doomed. The pro-Measure D campaign also got underway this week, as volunteers and phone bankers began a drive to ask 6,000 voters throughout the county for donations, endorsements, and support.