I live in the Trout Club, on San Marcos pass, in the third supervisorial district. My name is Art Ludwig.

I am writing regarding your survey on funding the backlog of road work.

First off, I'd rather see the bicycle infrastructure improved, and useful public transport. It is already too easy to drive a car, even though this is the most economically and environmentally expensive transport mode. Despite the fact that bicycling is the transport mode which would come out on top in any unbiased cost/benefit analysis, the bicycle infrastructure has not been significantly improved since 1974.

For the cost of a single freeway interchange widening we could pay for the buildout of the entire South Coast Bikeway Network. With a safe, enjoyable bike network, the interchanges probably wouldn't need widening. If money is short, perhaps it is time to re-assess the Counties' commitment to getting people around in the most expensive possible way.

Additionally, I am bitterly opposed to the idea of using a property tax as the funding mechanism for automobile infrastructure. Is the fear that if drivers had to pay a larger fraction of the cost of our habit that we'd do it less? What could be better for our quality of life here than less driving? Drivers have more than enough subsidies. The appropriate mechanism for raising these funds is a GASOLINE TAX, or other user tax.

This isn't the 1950's anymore. It's time for Santa Barbara to embrace the future of better living through better air, safer streets, quieter nights, less expensive infrastructure...through less driving.

Art Ludwig

PS...Below is a copy of my letter to the Santa Barbara News Press on the topic of Gasoline Taxes.

 

Highway Robbery

 

Bicyclists and pedestrians hold onto your wallets! The "Gasoline Rip-off" editorial in the News Press exhorts voters to call for the repeal of gas taxes. The rationale is that half the tax–24¢ a gallon–is used to fund non-highway projects. This may be true, but the News Press drastically misleads readers by ignoring the other side of the ledger.

The entire citizenry, driving and non-driving, pays for road maintenance and construction, free or subsidized parking, traffic law enforcement. street lighting, environmental damage, etc. etc.

For example, Measure D created a 1/2% sales tax ($15 million dollars a year) for transportation infrastructure. When you buy a gallon of milk or a bicycle tube, you’re helping fund projects like La Cumbre overpass expansion. Despite the fact that bikeways were mentioned in the description of Measure D on the ballot, none of the money has been used for bikeways thus far.

According to the recent Parson’s Brinkerhoff study of transportation in Santa Barbara (see attached), the external costs for driving amount to a subsidy of 32¢ per mile. At 27 miles per gallon, a tax of $8.64 per gallon would be required achieve the implied goal of the editorial: drivers paying no more or less than the cost of the facilities they use.

True market pricing for driving would enable the magic of the market to bring people’s use of autos versus other transportation modes into rational proportion with the costs–being a resource hog would be less attractive if you had to pay for it..

The disorienting tactic of arguing with conviction the opposite of reality appears to be trickling down from Capitol Hill to our local newspaper. Yes there is a "Gasoline rip-off," but it’s the opposite direction than the editorial claims–and much bigger.

 

Art Ludwig

Owner, Oasis Design

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