Members of the Board of Supervisors said next to nothing after listening to 20 speakers blister efforts to expand or renew Measure D — the half-cent sales tax surcharge that has funded most road improvements countywide since 1989. Most of the speakers complained Measure D gravely neglected buses, trains, bikes, and other forms of alternative transportation and vowed to oppose it unless this changed. Others countered that the proposed spending plan — slated to appear on the November ballot — wouldn’t do enough for freeway widening. At a time when the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) is desperate for constructive guidance, the county supervisors — with the exception of Salud Carbajal — bit their tongues. Carbajal said he supported a three-quarter cent sales tax increase that should go to voters as just that, rather than the A+B plan now proposed, which would allow voters to approve a renewal of the existing sales tax in A, and an accompanying quarter-cent expansion in B.
The Carpinteria City Council was far more forthcoming, arguing the money would be much better spent on expanding bus service than on the commuter rail line championed by many alternative transportation advocates. And by a 3-2 vote, the Carp Council denied a motion to renounce any increase in Measure D. Meanwhile, members of the S.B. Council strongly supported the tax increase — with two councilmembers arguing for a penny increase — and expressed skepticism that the A+B approach will fly with voters. The matter goes to the SBCAG board for an all-day session on April 5 devoted to devising a spending plan.