As the former sheriff and county fire chief, I have a keen interest in the results of the Measure P vote this coming November. While I have strong views about the history and safety of oil production in this county, I am especially concerned about the potential loss of public safety funding should this measure pass.
According to county planners and County Counsel, the potential loss of significant funding to schools, the fire protection district, and the county general fund is very real. Currently, North County schools receive over $12 million annually. The county fire protection district receives over $4 million, and the county general fund receives almost $3 million, of which approximately 60 percent goes to local public safety. The loss of these property taxes from existing oil production would be devastating.
Proponents of Measure P argue that existing oil production will continue, but that’s not true. County planners have confirmed that once the current wells or facilities require a permit for construction or maintenance, the permit will be denied, and proven and safe methods necessary to continue production will not be allowed because of Measure P. That is not “fracking” even though the proponents would like you to believe that.
I believe that Measure P is an overreach and is disingenuous in its focus on a drilling technique that has already been addressed in Santa Barbara County by ordinance in 2011. There is one certainty — should Measure P pass, there will be a significant loss of funding to North County schools, the fire protection district, and other public safety funding, not to mention the loss of good jobs for hard working families. That’s just not acceptable.