Judge Thomas Anderle apparently goofed when he issued a ruling last week setting aside the results of last November’s countywide Measure A election, in which Santa Barbara voters approved the continuation of a half-cent sales tax known as Meaure D for another 30 years, ensuring $1 billion in funds for in road repairs, improvements, and congestion relief measures. The ruling, issued June 22, caught just about everyone off guard with the exception of Eugene Wilson, attorney and chief activist for Sustainable Transportation Advocates of Santa Barbara, which argued in court filings that Measure A-and the election that ratified it-was legally flawed because it lacked environmental review. Although Anderle ruled against Wilson in this regard several months ago, last week he issued a ruling setting aside Measure A and barring the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) from re-approving “any regional transportation plan or sales tax measure until it has first prepared and certified a revised final EIR.”
In the past, Anderle had ruled that the EIR for the county’s Regional Transportation Plan-a separate planning document-failed to address issues of energy conservation and ordered SBCAG to fix it. For a few days, Wilson-an alternative transportation advocate who in the past blasted Measure A as a “19th-century plan for a 21st-century problem”-could savor victory and SBCAG frantically sought to reconcile the judge’s two contradictory rulings. Had the ruling stood, Wilson claimed Measure A was dead unless re-ratified by county voters. While both sides agree on very little, they did agree that Anderle’s ruling was issued in error and that the judge will issue a corrected version. How Anderle made this mistake, however, remains unclear.