If you care about Goleta’s future, please join me in voting YES on Measure B on this year’s ballot.
I’ve lived in Goleta for more than 40 years with my husband, Peter, raising our children — and helping with our parents and grandchildren! — in this community we love. Committed to the well-being of the Goodland, I’ve served on many boards, including First 5, the Santa Barbara Area Safety Committee, the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District, Home for Good, numerous PTAs, and for the past 12 years on the Goleta City Council, including the last four years as mayor. Along the way, I’ve learned so much about the key issues our city faces when it comes to public safety, roads and infrastructure, housing affordability and homelessness, the environment, and more.
To be clear, I am not speaking out as Mayor, nor on behalf of the City Council or the City of Goleta, even though four of our five councilmembers support Measure B. I am speaking as a committed, informed Goleta resident who wants to see Goleta receive sufficient revenue in order to serve our residents’ and businesses’ basic needs that are currently way underfunded.
There are two main reasons Goleta needs more revenue to preserve our city’s character and safety. The first is the backlog of key projects. For example, we need more than $6.5 million annually just to maintain our roads in their current condition, and even more to improve them. In addition to the $8 million we have already secured for earthquake-proofing and structural issues, our Goleta Community Center will need several millions more to update basics such as heating and cooling systems, wiring, sound systems, bathrooms, and parking lot. And we need nearly $2 million for increased police service costs. To keep parks, creeks and beaches, and community spaces clean and safe, we’ll need more than $2 million more.
The second is that Goleta suffered major losses of revenue. The pandemic slowed our economy and tax receipts. We lost millions in State Redevelopment funds, such as the $10 million Goleta had to spend to end Old Town flooding. And as most everyone knows, as a condition of becoming a city 20 years ago, Goleta had to agree to give up one-third of our sales tax and 50 percent of our property tax each year to the county, $7 million now and rising forever into the future.
Did you know that, currently, our sales tax is the lowest of any city in the county? Ours is 7.75 percent while Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Lompoc, and other cities are 8.75 percent or even higher. So we bring in fewer sales tax dollars than our sister cities.
Measure B is the answer to addressing our backlog and our revenue shortfall. It would add just one percent to our current sales tax — a mere penny per dollar! If passed, Measure B would raise $10.6 million per year, all of which would go to Goleta and none to the county. It’s likely that nearly half of the added revenue would come from the many nonresidents who shop here (and who already pay 8.75 percent or more when they shop at home).
It’s important to note that the tax wouldn’t go into effect until 2024, by which time the economy should be much improved and inflation down. Also, essential expenses like gas, groceries, and medicines would not be subject to the tax at all.
The newly generated revenue is expected to focus on several key areas: public safety to deal with local crime and support firefighting; roads and infrastructure; recreation needs; and for protecting our creeks, watersheds, and coast, to keep our beaches safe and clean for our families.
Goleta has grown quickly, and it has been a challenge to provide the infrastructure and services that the city needs to serve our increasing population and businesses in a fiscally responsible way. Raising our sales tax just a penny on the dollar, just as other local cities have done, will enable us to stop “kicking the can” down the road in providing good roads, public safety, and safe and clean beaches.
I ask you to join me in supporting Measure B by voting YES when your ballot arrives in October. Let’s give Goleta the revenue it needs to continue to be the Goodland!