The South Coast subregional planning committee of SBCAG (Santa Barbara County Association of Governments) will bring a plan in front of the entire SBCAG board May 17 which will take money for widening Highway 101 and any other interregional projects, and then divide the rest of the funds into two subregional plans – one for North County and one for South County. The two subregions will then divide the funds into regional and local money as they see fit.
The solution seeks to address the vast difference between the values and needs of the North County and South County. Widening Highway 101 – estimated to take $140 million of Measure D funding – is considered a priority, as it is the last remaining promised project from 1989, when the current Measure D began. It also has support from many in the North County, according to SBCAG polls. It is the only such interregional project to gain support from both ends of the county. In addition, the only way the project is going to receive state funding is if there are matching local funds. “We know the state is in the business of leveraging their dollars with local matching funds,” said SBCAG’s Gregg Hart.
Currently, Measure D is a half-cent transportation sales tax, 70 percent of which goes to local transportation needs and 30 percent of which goes to regional transportation projects. The measure, good through 2009, raises roughly $35 million a year. A 2006 ballot measure which would have upped the tax by a quarter cent and brought an additional $500 million to the County only received 54 percent of the vote, 12 percent less than needed to pass.
North County officials have expressed interest in keeping with the 70 percent local funding and 30 percent regional funding, but South County officials would like to see more of an even split.
The measure, whatever it turns out to look like, will be on the ballot in November 2008.