Monday, July 23 , 2018, 10:19 am | Fair 76º


Local News

Opponents Urge Voters to Say No to Measure M, County’s Road Maintenance Initiative

Four county supervisors and other elected officials call the plan an 'unfunded mandate' that is 'well-intended but misguided'

Even as mail-in ballots went out on Monday, a group gathered on the Santa Barbara Courthouse steps to oppose one of the measures listed on those same ballots that will ask voters to approve keeping county roads and other facilities at status quo or in better condition.

Opponents organized two news conferences Monday to speak out — one event in the North County and one in the South County — and urged voters to say no to Measure M, a ballot measure authored by Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam.

Adam is the newest member of the board, and Measure M has become his signature issue this election year. It aims to force the hand of the county to do something about rising costs that have resulted from delaying maintenance of county infrastructure.

On Monday, however, four other supervisors, including Adam's North County neighbor, Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, spoke out against Measure M.

"There's no way to be able to cut $30 million to $40 million in discretionary funds without going after significant cuts in public safety," he said. "I would challenge the proponents to lay out the cuts and let people decide what their priorities are."

Right now, people are just being asked to preserve roads in safe condition, he said, and not being told about the impacts to other areas.

The board has tackled some huge issues in the past four years, he said, naming pension reform, funding for the North County jail as well as working to close a massive budget deficit.

"Our road maintenance is looking for the same thing — a long-term, phased-in approach that will fix the problem without devastating our services," Lavagnino said.

First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, who has been against the measure since the beginning, called it an "unfunded mandate" and said it would force the county to spend up to $44 million "we currently do not have."

"I've not heard any financial plan that would pay for that unfunded mandate," Carbajal said.

Sheriff Bill Brown also spoke, calling the measure "well-intended but misguided."

Brown said the number has been changing for what it would actually costs to keep facilities as they are or better.

"First, it was $20 million; now it's $40 million or higher. We don't even know what the number is," he said, adding that there's no way cuts like that could be made without affecting all departments, including public safety.

The measure was an example of "ballot box budgeting," Brown said, and if passed it "would cripple" the county's ability to provide services as it has in the past.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley also spoke against the measure, as well as The Fund for Santa Barbara Executive Director Geoff Green, who said the measure would be devastating to many programs beyond public safety.

Noozhawk reached Adam for comment on Monday afternoon. He said spreading the cost over time for maintenance would only increase the cost while pushing it down the road.

"They don't have any plan," Adam said of his opponents. "Spreading the cost over time is not doing anything of the sort. It equals increasing your deferred maintenance."

Adam said the county's jail has been a victim of deferred maintenance itself, with its deterioration one of the factors that led to the decision to build a new one. 

"The American people are not in the habit of making today better by making tomorrow worse," he said, "and that's exactly what we're doing."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >