Chamber Punts on Measure D

Supporters of Measure
D
, the $1.6 billion countywide congestion relief
measure, came up short when the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce declined to
take a position on the controversial sales tax measure. Measure D
proponents were hoping to have the endorsement of at least one
chamber of commerce in the county to indicate support from the
business community; to them, Santa Barbara’s seemed the most
promising. But reportedly only one member of the S.B. Chamber
actually voted to endorse it. The chamber vote came after a debate
last week pitting Measure D supporters David
Landecker
and Gregg Hart—both former Santa
Barbara councilmembers—against COLAB spokesperson Andy Caldwell and the
the Taxpayers Alliance’s Joe Armendariz, also a
Carpinteria city councilmember.

According to some observers, Caldwell and Armendariz scored more
rhetorical points in that exchange, arguing that Measure D would
take too much money out of county residents pockets while not
delivering enough to any one congestion relief project to get the
job done. Hart and Landecker countered that the money had to
distributed to a wide array of projects in order to achieve the
political support necessary to garner the two-thirds supermajority
required to prevail at the polls. By spreading the money out, they
argued, Santa Barbara County can leverage hundreds of millions of
state and federal matching funds to see the projects through.
Measure D—the half cent sales tax surcharge—was initially approved
by county voters in 1989 to fund a variety of congestion relief
efforts, including the widening of Highway 101. It expires at the
end of 2009. Proponents are hoping not just to extend that half
cent sales tax, but to add a quarter-cent to it.

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