The author is president of Cars Are Basic, in Santa Barbara.
Extravagant spending of your tax dollars without solid justification continues. Taxes at the state, county and municipality levels grow, making the middle class and working poor an endangered species. Curb extensions (bulb-outs) cost hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars, and after decades of statistics, they failed. Carpinteria, Goleta and Santa Barbara state they have no numbers justifying the use bulb-outs and the millions spent for decades. Yet they continue to waste your money.
Street narrowing hurts businesses while locations that have wide-open access to vehicles are surviving and expanding. Downtown Santa Barbara has witnessed 40 years of failure with anti-car street destruction. Millions spent on Paseo Nuevo failed to attract locals. Tourists who drive do not want to suffer bad parking and congested streets. The continued success of the Fairview and Camino Real shopping centers, even during the recession, proves the point. All the while, the Goleta City Council is hostile to car drivers.
Sears in La Cumbre Plaza shut down because of corporate economics, not for a lack of customers. With ample parking and freeway access, La Cumbre and Five Points have full parking lots; with a change in attitude by mall management, La Cumbre would thrive.
Goleta continues failed traffic planning. When asked what baseline studies exist to prove their long-range plans, they go silent and ignore the questions. As with Carpinteria and Santa Barbara, when it is pointed out that the narrowing and congesting of primary arterials is irrational during emergencies and natural disasters, costing homes and lives, the answer is silence.
Changes in society make claims of bicycle success for commuting and high school students’ transit a joke. Santa Barbara closed two bike stations after years of experiment for “lack of use.” The “Complete Streets” concept has not worked in L.A. or Santa Barbara. Downtown shuttles have lost just under 32% ridership in the past two years. Eliminate cruise ship tourists, and the numbers would be more disastrous.
Why, then, do Goleta and Carpinteria continue mimicking this planning? Recently, the two South County supervisors praised the commuter train but neglected to state that ridership since January is down.
Time and space limit this discussion, but hopefully the reader understands that the wasteful long-term spending of your tax dollars has not worked. Bike advocates state their ride-to-school program failed after half a decade. Gregg Hart, as an SBCAG member, stated that single-passenger car use is up. Cities refuse to do bike counts because of the dismal numbers that would hold them accountable. And how about those failed rail numbers?
What do you want from your elected officials? More decades of failure? More waste of your tax dollars? More unrealistic planning that increases your taxes? Do you want to be taxed more? Do you reserve the right to own a car? Just something to think about when demanding accountability on streets and commerce from elected people in an election year.