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Tax Proposals, Veronica Meadows Project Among Ballot Measures Awaiting June Vote

With absentee ballots going out soon, here's a recap of what will be considered by residents in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria

The Veronica Meadows land is currently undeveloped and sits across the road from Elings Park. Yes on Y and No on Y signs are scattered near the site as the June 5 election nears.

The Veronica Meadows land is currently undeveloped and sits across the road from Elings Park. Yes on Y and No on Y signs are scattered near the site as the June 5 election nears.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

As ballots get mailed out to absentee voters in early May for the June 5 election, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara area voters will be asked to consider local tax measures.

Measures W and X

The Santa Barbara Unified School District proposes a $54-per-parcel tax from 2013 to 2016 to replace the expiring Measures H and I. The proposed Measures W and X would reduce class sizes and “enhance” math, science, technology, music, arts and foreign language programs at district schools.

Superintendent Dave Cash said that’s enhanced from the state of things before Measures H and I were approved in 2008.

The measures would also fund computer and educational technology for elementary schools and trade-related courses for secondary schools.

Though the elementary and secondary districts have unified, parcel taxes use the old boundaries. This time, the district wants $54 per parcel, not $23 or $27.

Property owners who live within the former elementary district would have to pay $108, since they are within the former secondary boundaries as well. Seniors can opt out of paying, but only for the parcel of their primary residence.

The measures each require a supermajority — or two-thirds approval — to pass.

Measure U

Santa Maria residents will decide whether a quarter-percent sales tax is needed to fund public safety and other city services.

The City Council declared a fiscal emergency in January and placed Measure U on the June 5 ballot. If passed, which requires only a simple majority, it would offset budget cuts to fund neighborhood police and firefighters, at-risk youth programs, gang/drug suppression and enforcement teams, improving 9-1-1 emergency medical response times, preventing floods through levee repair and other city services, according to the ballot language.

It would expire in nine years and have an oversight committee and annual audits.

Though the city just built two new fire stations with federal grant money, it doesn’t have the money to staff Fire Station No. 5. According to the Santa Maria Times, the fire department is also applying for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants from the Department of Homeland Security to try to get the $1.7 million needed to hire nine firefighters to staff the station, scheduled to be completed this summer.

Measure Y

Santa Barbara’s Measure Y would allow developer Mark Lee to build a bridge for a housing project’ on public park land to create a main access road.

The 25-unit project, on the west side of Las Positas Road across from Elings Park, has been approved by the City Council, but the project’s bridge has proved to be a sticking point for Lee.

The bridge would provide access to the property and was the center of a 2007 lawsuit between Lee and the Citizens Planning Association. A judge ultimately ruled in favor of the Citizens Planning Association, stating that the developer would need to get voter approval to build the bridge because it would pass over a small strip of land designated as a city park.

Lee will pay for the bridge construction, restoration of Arroyo Burro Creek and $78,000 in election costs himself. Steve Amerikaner, Lee’s attorney, said that if the measure fails, alternatives will need to be considered, such as going through the nearby neighborhood for the main access road.

Ballot Language

» Measure Y: Shall the City Council allow the construction of a public road and bridge on undeveloped City parkland where a bridge is necessary for a housing development, commonly known as Veronica Meadows, and provides public access along Arroyo Burro Creek?

» Measure X (elementary school district): “To offset severe state budget cuts to our elementary schools; protect class size; enhance elementary math, science and technology education; and offer classroom music and performing arts programs at the elementary level, shall Santa Barbara Unified School District be authorized to implement a $54 annual parcel tax for four years, with an available exemption for senior citizens, with independent citizen oversight, without administrative salaries, and with every dollar staying in our local elementary schools?”

» Measure W (junior high and high school district): “To offset severe state budget cuts to our junior high and high schools; enhance secondary math, science, technology and career education; protect music, arts, foreign language and theater programs at the secondary level; and protect secondary class size, shall Santa Barbara Unified School District be authorized to implement a $54 annual parcel tax for four years, with an available exemption for senior citizens, with independent citizen oversight, without administrative salaries, and with every dollar staying in our local schools?”

» Measure Y: “To offset state budget cuts and maintain/restore essential services, such as: neighborhood police patrols/firefighter staffing; at-risk youth programs, gang/drug suppression and enforcement; improving 911 emergency medical response times; preventing floods through levee repair; and other vital city services, shall the City of Santa Maria enact a ¼-cent sales tax that can’t be taken by the State, expiring in nine years, requiring taxpayer oversight, annual independent audits, with all funds used locally in Santa Maria?”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




comments powered by Disqus

» on 05.01.12 @ 02:44 AM

No more taxes Bonds and fees, (all the same) cut for once you liberals.

» on 05.01.12 @ 06:53 AM

I am voting no on the taxes. Regarding the schools: no reform, no money. As for the bridge, I am voting yes. There is no usable park there that I know of.

» on 05.01.12 @ 11:12 AM

No on the bridge we have given enough to developers.  Next he’ll want a tax break!

Yes on the school parcel tax, we need to give our kids every chance they can get.  We need to return
California’s education system to where it used to be before Ronnie and the right ruined it.  I really don’t understand begrudging teachers wanting a decent living wage and the tools they need to educate our children.  They have them 4-6 hours a day.  How much do you pay your doctor and the almighty CHS for 15 mins.?

» on 05.01.12 @ 11:51 AM

With X and W, I would have to pay $108 more on my taxes; not affordable, not worth it and I shall vote NO!

I shall vote NO on Y: it’s a terrible precedent, giving city land to a developer of luxury houses. As for the parkland itself, the creekside is presently in a natural condition, inhabited by frogs, turtles and small creatures. The developer proposes to scrape the bottom of Arroyo Burro Creek, change the bank in one section, creating an overflow wash across park land, but also across land owned by abutting Alan Road residents. (Restorative work should be done on the creek all the way to Hendry’s - removing arundo that’s there in patches, but not the bulldozer intentions of the developer for just 1,800’. Measure B funds are exactly for creek restoration.)

In addition, the developer has been permitted 3 houses at the end of Alan Road; those can be built anyway. Hard to see any reason for 22 more luxury (up to 4,500 sq ft) houses in one of the few remaining unspoiled, undeveloped natural areas of Santa Barbara.

So, a firm NO on W, X, Y ... (while waiting for Z)

» on 05.01.12 @ 12:38 PM

Yes on Y.
If you have seen the condition of this section of the creek and the so-called city park land, both in terribly deteriorated condition, you would agree that having these areas remediated and maintained at no cost to the taxpayers is a very good deal.

» on 05.01.12 @ 01:23 PM

NO on taxes; YES on Y.

» on 05.01.12 @ 01:24 PM

The unions have stripped all funding, it really is poor management of our hard earned tax dollars by Democrats.

No new B.S tax increases—its a spending problem..

» on 05.01.12 @ 01:42 PM

I’ll be voting yes on all of the above. If anything I’m voting yes for the fees purely out of spite for the ranting and railing “no new taxes/big bad government” crowd.

» on 05.01.12 @ 02:23 PM

For all the renters out there who are voting yes on W and X, when your rents go up, I don’t won’t to hear your bellyaching.

When the teacher unions agree to give up tenure and seniority and really put the children first, I would be more amenable to property tax increases. Of course, hell would freeze over before that happens.

» on 05.01.12 @ 02:37 PM

Yes on W and X.  It is not a “spending” problem, the schools have cut budgets year after year after year.

The schools need to be funded properly, that is what made California the great state it is. 

To all you anti-tax right-wing tea baggers, when was the golden age for you?  The 50’s?  What was the tax rate, public infrastructure spending, union strength, etc. then?  What makes you think anything the republicans have done over the past few decades has made this country better?  Oh-that’s right, it is all Obama’s and Clinton’s fault, there was nothing in-between.

» on 05.01.12 @ 02:58 PM

And Yes on Y.  The Alan Road people need to shut up, if it wasn’t for their NIMBYism the property would be accessed through Alan Road and there would be no need for the bridge at all. 

They are as bad as the people at the end of Palermo who stopped the Hidden Valley School project.  Somehow they moved in next to a site that says “School District Property” and then claimed they deserved to live near open space and that a school would ruin the neighborhood.

» on 05.01.12 @ 03:28 PM

YES on local school bonds, NO on Governor Browns tax for November.
Tax and keep the school funds locally.  Once it goes to Sacramento we will never see it in the classrooms.

» on 05.01.12 @ 03:34 PM

YES ON X AND Y. 

Take it from this parent in the trenches - our kids are getting the shaft for poor grown up choices and a broken system.  Don’t continue to make the kids pay for that.  Support reform efforts while also voting yes on these measures.  You got a better education back in the day and they deserve too.

» on 05.01.12 @ 03:44 PM

The illegal aliens and anchor babies are destroying and dumbing down our schools and teachers.

No new taxes for our tax and waste Dems..

» on 05.01.12 @ 03:53 PM

Hey Lived Here, if you take your head out of you nowhere, stop mimicking the liberal Democratic talking points and actually think for yourself, you might see where the policies of the mindless left-wingers (it wasn’t Conservatives who single-handedly destroyed Ca.) have taken us. With half of the state budget going to the public schools, they still have become a joke in Ca.

Many liberal do-gooders send their kids to private, parochial or charter schools today because they wouldn’t subject their kids to this crappy school system. Only the urban and rural poor are locked into these failing schools. Only idiotic liberals would support lifetime tenure for lousy teachers.

» on 05.01.12 @ 04:32 PM

Art, I have seen the creek and the parkland, also. Scraping the bottom and sides of 1,800’ of a creek with bulldozers and the sides, with no accountability, is not “restoration”. Giving away city land for private development is a bad idea.

As for X and Y, I am probably one of those “idiotic liberals” but I oppose these parcel taxes and, indeed, Lou Segal is right: these fees will be passed on directly to tenants. Seniors can opt out of these fees, but that seems to me unfair: all should share the pain. When H & I were promoted four years ago, a selling point was that they would expire; instead they’re back, demanding twice as much; wonder if that will be the same picture in 2016. Again, with Segal: no reform, no money.

» on 05.01.12 @ 08:51 PM

All X and W do is let Sacramento off the hook. Our state government is a joke. They took your RDA money and never looked back; they cut your school funding and never say a word except pass more taxes.

The reality is this, your children are being held hostage and you are being coerced, not by greedy evil republicans or conservatives, because they have no power in this state, but instead by the creeps you elected to raid the treasury for themselves. The very politicians telling you, you must absorb more tax penalty or they will screw your kids, have done nothing to curb their own appetite for wild spending and flagrant abuse of power. There are no cuts at the state level, just more spending and more lavish pensions for their biggest political contributors, public employee unions.

To pass these local tax increases means you do not have to face the wrong, the criminal activity, the immorality of state representatives soaking you because they refuse to do the right thing. Vote no, then take the anger you feel from having your children used as hostages, by unions and representatives only interested in picking your pocket clean, out on them. You must face the music people. Enough is enough. Your children’s future will never be better as long as you leave the wolves guarding the hen house.

» on 05.01.12 @ 10:56 PM

Looking West, Why do you assume that the creek restoration is, as you say, just scraping the bottom and sides with a bull dozer.

Have you looked at the remediation that the city did on the south side of Cliff Drive? Hasn’t that turned out very well?

Have you looked at the plans that were approved by the Creeks Dept., the Creeks Committee, the Planning Commission, the City Council, the Coastal Commission? Nothing in there about just scraping the sides and bottom with a bull dozer.

» on 05.02.12 @ 02:00 AM

I’ll be voting No on Y.

The Urban Creeks Council has also come out against Measure Y. If the developer-funded creek restoration was going to result in a net improvement for the meadows & creek, you’d think the Urban Creeks Council would be for it (the Council has worked on many creek restoration projects in the city). But they know that along with the negative impacts cited in the EIR, it’s a net loss. The only winner would be the developer who gets to build more homes and make more money.

Another thing, that glossy flyer sent out by the developer endorsing Measure Y didn’t tell the whole story. That’s the same as lying. Why should we give public property to a developer who lies?

Finally, I spoke to many of the residents of Alan Rd the last two weeks while I was at the beach. The majority of them want to preserve the area and minimize the impact of development. I’m on the same page and will be voting No on Y.

» on 05.02.12 @ 02:27 PM

Nobody can deny the State problems or that there needs to be change - pension reform, etc.  Unfortuntately, this is the choice we have to vote on - taxes. 

Voting no on these taxes will not serve to accomplsh that reform, but will just increase our kids’ class sizes and shorten the school year. 

Probably wasting my energy on the anti-immigrant commentator, but our students in SB are very diverse and each one is special.  We have many doctors, engineers, lawyers, and other service providers at our public school.  Private is $12-18k per year and housing here is costly.  Chances are we are paying a lot more property tax than you, having bought our homes recently.  Even greater chances you will have a legal descendant of an immigrant changing your diaper later. Think about it.  We are your community, and these are your kids.

» on 05.02.12 @ 03:15 PM

VoteSB, there is no evidence any of the past property tax increases has done anything to improve our schools. The state spends billions on our schools (more than half of the budget) and all we have to show for it are failing schools all over the state. Throwing money at the schools without any reform is just going down the same path that has never worked. First, tell me the teacher unions will agree to eliminate seniority and lifetime tenure for lousy teachers and incorporate curriculum changes to ensure that students graduate with the ability to read and write and perform elementary math with some proficiency.

I would actually be much more amenable to having my taxes raised if you gave the parents the money and allowed them to choose which schools to send their children. If a school is doing a poor job, let the free market work. Steve Jobs had been proposing this solution for years before his untimely death. I think it is eminently reasonable for taxpayers to ask the educational establishment to agree to reforming an antiquated and hidebound bureaucracy before they get more of our hard-earned money.

Can you please explain why less than .001% of teachers are dismissed for poor performance. You can’t even fire a teacher for sexually abusing children. Read what is happening recently in LA. The LIFO method of laying off teachers is a huge scandal. Is there any credible reason why the last teacher hired is always the first teacher booted, even if he/she may be the best teacher in the school. Please don’t insult our intelligence by pretending this practice is not absurd. Also, why should a great teacher make less money than a mediocre teacher who has been there longer. Let’s not be naive: the unions and the educational bureaucracy could care less about the children.

You are being used to perpetuate a terribly flawed system. You would be doing a much greater service for the children if you insisted on these very sensible reforms before you agreed to spend your time raising money for the schools. The best thing that can happen is for these property tax measures to be defeated. It is the only message they will hear before they get serious about really doing something to change the this corrupt system.

» on 05.02.12 @ 03:56 PM

Lou:  I am completely aware of the problems that you review in your comment.  Unfortunately, we don’t have the chance to vote on any measures to change that.  I do belong to a California parent group seeking change.  I also follow the budget discussions in my elementary district.  I can tell you that the direct result of cuts is that they do not replace outgoing teachers and the class sizes get bigger and bigger.  Also teacher aide time is funded to a lesser degree, or in other districts not at all.  That is the result of a no vote, not union reform.  It’s about what we can do for the kids, not complaining about what we are unable to change (at least for now).  I respectfully suggest that you reconsider.

» on 05.02.12 @ 04:31 PM

VoteSB, No, your way leads to no reform and the status quo. Einstein said it best: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

» on 05.02.12 @ 04:39 PM

I worked in my kids schools 20 to 30 years ago and they were complaining about the same crap then. All we saw was any new source of revenue went to the state capital and we never saw it here.  It has gotten much worse since then. Lou is absolutely correct. Until you slaughter the wolves guarding the hen house they will continue to feed on the chickens meant for your kids.

People forget the partisan divide. You have to clear all union supported representatives out of Sacramento regardless of party. You have to vote in representatives who will swing a mighty axe at the pension debacle. You have to vote in representatives who will reform the education system and stamp out the teachers union.

That doesn’t mean teachers will be paid less. In fact it will mean good teachers will be paid more as we transition to a merit based system and bad teachers will be flushed out. Merit pay, not union benefits, will attract a better class of teachers and weed out the mediocre. That will benefit your children far more than continuing to support a system that clearly has failed and has been a failure for two generations now.

» on 05.03.12 @ 01:33 PM

I am writing in response to Art’s concern regarding the Veronica Meadows project and it’s comparison to the Cliff Drive lagoon project. The restoration at Cliff Dr. involved a “daylighting” of the Mesa Creek, (the removal of a large section of pipe). This project did not involve the displacement of wildlife due to it’s relatively small size.  The Veronica Meadows creek project, on the other hand, is a “bank stabilization” designed to prevent erosion of the creek for the purpose of protecting a new development. I pulled the draft plans, read the EIR and the “Conditions of Approval” for this project. I discussed it with a civil engineer and consulted with the Creeks Division. I was informed that given the scope and time frame, (6.8 acres from bank to bank and 6 months for completion),  this project will require aggressive gutting of the creek, displacing 1800 feet of riparian habitat in the process, some of which will never recover. I am a member of the Urban Creeks Council and I have been up and down this lower stem of creek many times.  It needs restoration but must be approached in a more sensitive fashion, not like a “bull in a china shop”.

» on 05.03.12 @ 01:59 PM

Well DMCC, from what I have been able to uncover so far, the plans for remediation of the creek were done by Swanson Hydrology & Geomorphology. The NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service says that they are well known and excellent in planning and doing these types of projects. That is why the Coastal Commission and NOAA have endorsed the project.

Why doesn’t the Urban Creeks Council share a similar view?

» on 05.03.12 @ 09:43 PM

What scientific and engineering knowledge does the Urban Creeks Council possess?

» on 05.04.12 @ 12:18 PM

Art,
The letter to which you refer was written by Donald “Kit” Crump in 2008 at the request of Swanson Hydrology to gain support for the creek alteration project. I called his number, which is on the flyer. He has never seen the project plans or the creek in question. Donald said the letter is a “generic letter in support for fisheries habitat restoration”. The developer is trying to give this project a restoration status but his plans do not support any specific species habitat. Mr. Crump is no longer with NOAA but reiterated that NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service does not support or endorse this project. As for the Coastal Commission, the Coastal Commission only approves what is in the coastal zone and in this case that is only about a third of the project. The Coastal Commission has not approved the bridge over the creek.
If you have questions about this project please contact the Urban Creeks Council at
1-877-OUR-OCEAN (1877-687-6232) thank you.

» on 05.04.12 @ 01:52 PM

Again I ask:  What scientific and engineering knowledge does the Urban Creeks Council possess?

» on 05.05.12 @ 11:56 PM

So, given the lack of response, I have to assume that the Urban Creeks Council has no scientific or engineering knowledge but is using claims of environmental misbehavior to justify their classic Santa Barbara NIMBY position.  They just don’t want the bridge (or the new homes) in their neighborhood and are willing to sacrifice someone else’s private property rights to have their way.  At least be honest about it, willya?

» on 05.06.12 @ 05:45 PM

John Locke, You might want to ask that of the Urban Creeks Council, not here - but please do share their response. I am not a member of it (or in any way affiliated) but I would guess that among its many members there are those with scientific and engineering knowledge.

I do not live in that Alan Road neighborhood; I will not be personally affected by the development; but, interested, I have visited the property, walked a little along the creek, walked along Las Positas; read some of the EIR, and I oppose this development on several bases: the environmental impacts to the creek that will have a devastating impact on the wildlife there; also, because this is important open space in an increasingly urbanized environment; also, because there is no need for additional “luxury” housing, including the 3 “affordables” in that area; also, because a 140’ bridge over a creek, taking city land for a private development, is a very bad precedent — people and courts scream when cities take private property to benefit private development (Kelo decision, for instance): why is this different? Etcetera.

Basically, though: I hope you will contact the Urban Creeks Council, asking your question and reporting back here.

» on 05.06.12 @ 06:46 PM

“people and courts scream when cities take private property to benefit private development (Kelo decision, for instance): why is this different?”

I am confused. The private property is owned by the developer. The only property being taken is the public property owned by the city, although only to build the bridge. I don’t think the Kelo decision is at all relevant to this situation.

Furthermore, the city takes public property and conveys it to private developers to build affordable housing all the time. They usually do this over the vociferous objections of the neighbors. Do you have a problem with this?

» on 05.06.12 @ 07:19 PM

I see no reason to “guess” that the Urban creeks Council has scientific and engineering knowlege.  Very few have graduated in those disciplines in recent decades and the “science” taught in “environmental science” is rather limited, as the writings of our own Tam Hunt illustrate.

Since dmcc chose to cite the Urban Creeks Council as indicator of his bona fides in this chain of postings, I see no reason why he or she should not respond, publicly, in this chain of postings as to the scientific and engineering knowledge that the Council has called upon.  Would you trust me to accurately represent dmcc?

As to the need for housing, only because “luxury” housing is being built and sold can the builders afford (maybe) to build “affordable” housing as well (of course they are blackmailed into this by our local governments).  Actually, what this means is that those who purchase the “luxury” housing are subsidizing those who “qualify” for the affordable housing.  Fits right in to the Peoples’ Republic of Santa Barbara, don’t you think.

So in closing, let’s take a poll (not by the same people who “polled” the East Side re traffic-calming devices and then ignored the results, please) of those who are geographically close to the the project who also object to the project.  Much more interesting than the views of any one individual.  My personal guess, based on 15 years involvement with private property rights vs. land use “planning”, is that there are lots of NIMBYs in this debate.

» on 05.06.12 @ 08:51 PM

“The private property is owned by the developer. The only
property being taken is the public property owned by the city, although only
to build the bridge.”

That is a point that seems to be lost on many people. Those who say that they want to continue to use and enjoy that area of open space are actually trespassing since it is private property. The city-owned public property is between Las Positas and the creek and is virtually impassible due to the invasive plants, brush, etc. that the city has not maintained. And the only portion of that which will be affected is for one end of the bridge.

All that would change for the better with the passage of Measure Y however.

» on 05.07.12 @ 12:59 AM

Good point, Art.  But to many in The Peoples’ Republic, there is no such thing as private property - generally, I’d guess, because those who “don’t believe in it” have no chance of every owning any.

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