New county transportation sales tax initiative approved for several city ballots so far

By George Millersalestax

On Tuesday night, 6-14-16, the Oxnard Council approved placing a Ventura County-wide transportation tax on the ballot. It would take 2/3 of County voters in the November election to pass this 1/2% increment to the sales tax. This has failed twice before, but officials claim it now has 67% public support in a survey taken. It would raise about $70 million annually initially, which would likely mean $2 to $3 billion over the life of the initiative.

Meeting AGENDA  VIDEO (at 10:35)

1. SUBJECT: Ventura County Transportation Commission/Ventura County Local Transportation Authority Transportation Investment/Expenditure Plan. (20/40)
RECOMMENDATION: That City Council adopt a resolution approving the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) Transportation Investment/Expenditure Plan (“The Plan”) for placing a ½ cent Countywide Transportation Sales Tax Measure on the November 8, 2016 general election ballot.
Legislative Body: CC Contact: Greg Nyhoff Phone: 385-7430

Darren Kettle, Executive Director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission, made the presentation, as he already has elsewhere and says he has had favorable votes to put it on the ballot  in Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, Santa Paula, Camarillo, Port Hueneme. He plans to visit Fillmore and Ojai next.

Simi Valley has not yet decided and before a council vote will first discuss it at a meeting of all neighborhood councils on Thursday. Mayor Bob Huber didn’t want to vote on it without input from the councils.  He stated a case that current revenue available cannot keep up with public transportation infrastructure needs for capacity expansion. Meeting: Date: 6/16/2016 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM; Location: Simi Valley Police Department Emergency Operations Center, 3901 Alamo Street, Simi Valley, California 93063

Oxnard did not see fit to follow Simi Valley’s approach and quickly moved to a vote after only two members of the public spoke on it- a LA metro bus driver pro and  a certain newspaper publisher con, then brife words by Council Members, who voted for it unanimously.  The unusual 5 PM appointment item time on the agenda played to a nearly empty room when the presentation first started, filling up as people filed into to protest stalled labor negotiations, the after school program and more.

Kettle also pointed out that Ventura County is currently at a disadvantage vis a vis other counties which have the required allocated revenue stream to earn “matching  funds” from the state and federal government transportation grant programs.

Kettle listed a variety of planned uses for the funds:


Half of the money (It was 40% before, but that was sweetened to 50%) is promised for local uses, but it varies based on “lane miles” in each city.  For example, Oxnard gets only 15%, even though it has almost a quarter of the county’s population. However, it benefits also from the freeway projects. About $5.25 million annually would flow to Oxnard for local road projects,

#2 is to widen 101 from the LA County line to Rt. 33 and the 118 freeway from Rt 23 to Tapo Canyon Road, along with doing offramp work. These two projects alone are estimated to cost $660 million in the county.

#4 would subsidize money-losing bus service which gets only a small portion of its revenues from fares.

$5 includes things like an overpass for the accident-prone 5th St. & Rose Ave. railroad crossing, which alone would cost an estimated $30-40 million.

#7 is for things like drains.

Kettle also stated that work is needed for Port Hueneme freight carrying improvements and military base access. It was not explained why we would have to fund this locally rather than funds coming from the Port/related grants and the Department of Defense.

No one denied the need to address road congestion & deferred maintenance, or the struggling bus and train programs. Commutes are getting longer now that the worst of the recession has ebbed, for now. A combination of increasing road capacity and providing automobile alternatives could reduce congestion. Kettle described this as “an investment in the future.”

However, it was pointed out that the infrastructure was already built out without this tax and that much revenue , much of it originally intended for transportation, has been redirected by the state and federal governments. Instead of protesting this and working on getting it back, counties are instead increasing taxes for transportation and in doing so increasing the total tax burden on the people. Sales taxes are an especially regressive method of raising revenues. The SoCal regional transportation plan calls for nearly a half-trillion dollars, much of it still unfunded. Much of this is huge income transfer for housing, environmental and other uses.

County activists told that the funds are earmarked only for union labor, which was not mentioned at the Tuesday Oxnard presentation, nor were we able to confirm that by press time so late.

The initiative has gotten this far via votes by the Ventura County Transportation Commission, a de facto regional government agency with indirect representation. Commission member votes are not directly accountable to votes by councils or the voters of the jurisdictions from which elected official members are drawn. In most cases, member jurisdictions appoint commission members via city council/county supervisor votes.

Getting this on the ballot and getting 2/3 of the actual voters to pass it are two very different things, so the effort will likely shift to a public sales pitch next.


George Miller is Publisher of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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2 Responses to New county transportation sales tax initiative approved for several city ballots so far

  1. Bruce Boyer June 20, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    This should be on the Agenda at the Simi City Council meeting Monday the 20th, come on out!

  2. Bruce Boyer June 16, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    As to Union Labor. Yes all of theses spending will be done on Labor Union ( AKA Well-Organized crime) only jobs. Citizens will be required to join theses crime syndicates or be denied the right to work ergo they must consent to be slaves to the Labor Union bosses. Three Billion for the well Organized crime groups AKA labor Unions!

    They tell you that you benefit, OK so you pay 3.0 billion in taxes so that 1.5 Billion goes to the Sacramento so that you get the benefit of them paying one billion for 1/2 a billion in roads and spendingthe rest on their pol BS. Not bad, 1/2 billion in results for three billion in taxes!
    The Labor goons vote for the politicians that support this!


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