Of the city’s 245 miles of roads and streets, 64 percent are in poor or deteriorating condition. Just to maintain our streets at their current, terrible level, the city would have to spend $8 million a year. At present, it spends only $2 million. To bring our pavement safety up to a decent standard, the city would have to spend $17 million a year for five years — and the longer the delay, the more expensive the repairs. In the past five years, the price of asphalt alone has increased by 161 percent. City bean counters estimate Measure C would generate $22 million a year to repair the city’s vast infrastructure needs — a list that also includes repairing sewer mains and parks. The annual cost of taking on these projects is $25 million. In other words, Measure C gets us most of the way there, but not quite all the way.
If passed, Measure C will increase the sales tax within city limits from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent — which would only put Santa Barbara’s sales taxes in the middle range compared to other cities. The single most expensive item that Measure C would address is building a new police station. The city’s existing station was constructed long before seismic safety was an engineering requirement. Back then, the department had a staff of 85. Today, 212 personnel are crowded into the same building. Just imagine if a major earthquake hits. That building becomes a deadly pancake. Realizing the existing dangers, the department has relocated its communications infrastructure, but what about the police trapped in the collapsed building? Measure C would begin to fix that, as well as to modernize fire station headquarters. Should we not be willing to protect those whose duty it is to protect us?