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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 7:08 am | Fair 39º


Letter to the Editor: Santa Barbara Wasting Money on Expensive and Unneeded Consultants

Taxpayers in Santa Barbara County and California are once again being taken for a ride by the City of Santa Barbara. The city recently approved a contract for $200,000 for the Bicycle Master Plan Update — an update Councilman Dale Francisco stated was a foregone conclusion because the council majority wanted it.

The staff presentation used numbers from the Bicycle Coalition. When these numbers were put under the microscope by the statistician for the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG), the conclusion was they were unreliable and could not be used in any responsible presentation. $200,000 is not chump change for taxpayers.

The city is hiring another outside firm to evaluate its street maintenance programs when it already knows its ranking. The question is why?!

The city has more than enough qualified personnel to do this job. The city transportation staff has comparison facts and graphs from outside sources showing our streets are in real trouble — data the city has published.

Public works personnel have reported millions of dollars in deficit in street maintenance ($8 million for the 2014 fiscal year), yet the city council continues to spend money on alternative transportation modes the public has ignored.

MTD reported to SBCAG that it lost 170,000 riders last year, bike use has failed to gain reasonable commuter numbers and more. One would think the council majority would be embarrassed by these outcomes. What has yet to be factored in to this equation is the impact illegal immigrants will have now that they can acquire driver’s licenses. This will certainly reduce bus and bike use on the streets.

The most disingenuous aspect of the staff report (Jan. 13 council agenda item No. 9 of the Consent Agenda (503.04)) is the statement that “Alternative transportation projects that help reduce the wear and tear on city streets.” It sounds good until you see the numbers of people ignoring “alternatives.” It is fluff. The combined total for the Bicycle Master Plan and this consulting contract to review what it already knows, and has the staff to do the analysis, comes to $300,00 of your tax dollars.

Within this same council agenda is a project for lighting on the Westside that will cost you $400,000. By foregoing expensive and unneeded consulting contracts, the city can pay for close to 75 percent of the lighting project.

It is ironic, in the same agenda, the city is approving an airport rental to the federal agency NOAA — the same agency that has significantly destroyed issues of air pollution and carbon emissions by the anti-car environmental groups the council majority has relied upon for their transportation and housing planning.

If the City of Santa Barbara would concentrate Measure A monies on needed street repairs and defer “alternative transportation” planning and roundabouts, costing millions of dollars, the streets backlog would be taken care of.

Scott Wenz, president
​Cars Are Basic

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