Monday, May 2 , 2016, 6:15 pm | Fair 60º

Adam Pushes for Chamber of Commerce Support of Infrastructure Funding Measure

Santa Barbara Councilmen Randy Rowse and Bendy White are planning an initiative of their own, but have a different approach in mind

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

Santa Barbara County Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam is pushing hard for the infrastructure funding measure that he got onto June’s ballot.

His staff collected 21,000 signatures in a month and a half — 15,000 of which were valid — and the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to put Measure M to the voters. He has been outspoken with his frustration over the county’s spending habits and advocates heartily for spending on road, parks and building maintenance.

He made his case to the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday afternoon, asking for its support.

“Fix Santa Barbara County” would make the board fund enough maintenance to keep all county facilities at the same level they’re at when the ordinance passes, or better, according to ballot language Adam presented Wednesday. It’s not a tax but a reprioritization, he noted.

Department heads would come up with the various needs and cost estimates.

Santa Barbara County maintains 1,670 miles of roads, which got much better with the passage of Measure D and have subsequently fallen down to a Pavement Condition Index number of 48 (out of 100, which is a failing grade). The county is back where it started, with the same grade as the 1980s before Measure D or Measure A, which funded local road maintenance, were ever passed.

There is a study being done now to analyze the amount of deferred maintenance and overall infrastructure needs, but the latest estimate for roads alone was more than $250 million, Adam said.

Supervisors often fund social programs instead of maintenance, which has led to years of under-funding repairs, he said.

He voted against the 2013-14 budget, pushing for more money to be spent on infrastructure costs instead of optional costs such as a plastic-bag-ban ordinance and a climate-change study. The Public Works Department doesn’t even have enough funding to maintain things at the current status, he said.

Measure M wouldn’t even start to tackle the amount of deferred maintenance — fixing things that have already deteriorated — but would try to stop additional deterioration.

“Keep it small, keep it simple and get somewhere fast,” he said.

If the county can’t find $18 million a year to keep roads from deteriorating, it’s not managing itself right, he said.

Infrastructure needs are also at the front of the minds of Santa Barbara Councilmen Randy Rowse and Bendy White.

They’re feeling out support and ideas for an initiative of their own and plan to discuss the city’s unfunded roads, parks and facility needs at the March 4 meeting.

The city and county’s troubles have a “crazy similar theme,” White said. Rowse added that they want to take a community-based approach to ask people what they want and how it can be done.

Former Chamber of Commerce chairman Steve Amerikaner called Adam’s plan a “sledgehammer approach” in contrast to the city’s efforts to do outreach first. He questioned who would be the advocates for items such as roads or sewers, which are major infrastructure needs but don’t have advocates at public comment.

Santa Barbara has been “in the hole” with maintenance very year, even before the recession hit and the Redevelopment Agency was dissolved, White said.

He said the March meeting will be about what the community wants and “what you can stand” in terms of a financial commitment, in money and in years.

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.

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