Mass transit and alternative transportation advocates from 22
community organizations called on the Santa Barbara County
Association of Governments (SBCAG) to place just one $1.6 billion
bond measure on the November ballot, instead of the two separate
bond measures — A and B — now proposed. Standing under the
courthouse’s massive stone arches, representatives of the Coalition
for a Fair Measure D pledged to campaign vigorously for a unified
bond that would renew and expand Measure D, the countywide
half-cent sales tax passed in 1989 and set to expire in 2009. The
speakers argued the two-measure approach was too confusing for
voters and too risky for alternative transit projects.

Coalition spokesperson Marc Chytillo charged that only eight
percent of the Measure D funds collected thus far have been spent
on mass transit, bike lanes, or other forms of alternative
transportation. And Harley Augustino noted that Santa Barbara
County ranks last of California’s 58 counties in public transit
subsidies, with the most heavily subsidized transit service being
Santa Barbara’s downtown shuttle that ferries shoppers and tourists
up and down State Street. Eva Inbar of COAST (Coalition for
Sustainable Transportation) also insisted Measure D needed to do
much more for alternative transportation to win over the necessary
two-thirds of voters.

SBCAG members embraced the A and B approach in response to polls
indicating powerful support for renewing Measure D, but only 61
percent support for increasing it by one-quarter cent. But the
speakers complained that the lion’s share of funding for
alternative transportation would come from Measure B, which polls
indicated was the most politically vulnerable, as it constitutes a
sales tax increase rather than a renewal. SBCAG will meet this
Wednesday to continue discussing what spending plan to place before
voters this November; the final decision is not expected until
April 20.


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