Tuesday, January 23 , 2018, 4:07 pm | Fair 67º


Local News

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

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.

  • 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 >

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 PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

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 >