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November 8, 2016 — California General Election

San Luis Obispo County
Measure J-16 Ordinance - 2/3 Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


86,038 votes yes (66.31%)

43,714 votes no (33.69%)

100% of precincts reporting (160/160).

139,685 ballots counted.

To improve our region's transportation system by: Fixing potholes, repaving local streets, relieving traffic congestion; Improving street, highway and bridge safety; Making bike and transit improvements within and between communities; Increasing senior, veterans, disabled and student transit; and Providing safe routes to school. Shall San Luis Obispo County voters enact a half cent transportation sales tax, providing $25,000,000 annually for nine (9) years, requiring independent citizens' oversight, where all funds stay local and cannot be taken by the State?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

A “yes” vote on this measure is a vote in favor of the imposition of a half-cent sales tax for the purposes set forth in the full-text of the measure.

NO vote means

A “no” vote on this measure is a vote against the imposition of a half-cent sales tax for the purposes set forth in the full-text of the measure.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

RITA L. NEAL County Counsel

This measure will determine whether a half-cent sales tax within the county will be imposed for a period of nine (9) years in order to provide revenue for transportation improvements throughout the county. The measure is placed on the ballot by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors (“the Board”) and will become effective if two-thirds (2/3rds) of the voters vote “yes” on the measure.

In 1987, recognizing a need for a mechanism to provide necessary funding for local transportation improvement needs, the Legislature enacted the Local Transportation and Improvement Act (Pub. Util. Code, § 180000; “the Act”).  In accordance with the Act, on April 19, 2016, the Board designated the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments as the “Local Transportation Authority” for San Luis Obispo County (“the Authority”). Pursuant to Public Utilities Code section 180206, the Authority developed a countywide expenditure plan, entitled “The San Luis Obispo County Self-Help Local Transportation Investment Plan” (“the Plan”).  The Plan was approved by the Board on July 12, 2016, and has been approved by a majority of the city councils representing a majority of the population residing within the incorporated areas of the county, as required by the Act. (Pub. Util. Code § 180206.) On July 13, 2016, pursuant to the authority provided by the Act and by Revenue and Taxation Code section 7251, the Authority adopted Ordinance No. 2016-01, approving the Plan and providing for the imposition of a half-cent (.5 cent) retail transaction tax for the purpose of funding transportation improvements within the county.

If approved, this measure will add a half-cent to every dollar of an item purchased, with some exceptions.  Currently, the sales and use tax rates are 7.5% in the unincorporated areas of the county and 8% in the cities of Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Paso Robles, and San Luis Obispo. The rates would increase to 8% and 8.5% respectively. The tax would terminate after a period of nine years. The measure is a “special tax,” not a “general tax.” Therefore, revenue generated by the tax may only be used for the purposes stated in the measure, which include fixing potholes, repaving streets, relieving traffic congestion; making bicycle and other transit improvements within and between communities; increasing senior, veteran, disabled, and student transit within the county; and providing safe routes to schools. The Plan, which is published in the ballot material for this election, includes the types of specific projects that would be funded by the tax.

The Authority will commission an independent annual audit by a certified public accountant, which shall confirm that proceeds of the tax are spent only as specified in the measure and that funding is compliant with the Plan. A thirteen member (13) member “Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee” will be appointed. The committee will conduct an annual audit and prepare a report of revenue and expenditures, and progress made in implementing the Plan.

A “yes” vote on this measure is a vote in favor of the imposition of a half-cent sales tax for the purposes set forth in the full-text of the measure.

A “no” vote on this measure is a vote against the imposition of a half-cent sales tax for the purposes set forth in the full-text of the measure.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Yes on J

Measure J has been carefully crafted to address important transportation needs. Following are three reasons, why it's a smart decision for San Luis Obispo County.

First: All of the funds raised by Measure J funds stay right here in San Luis Obispo County to pay for street, road and transportation improvements. Every dime.

Second: Measure J is specifically designed to prevent state and federal politicians from getting their hands on these funds.  This measure specifically dedicates all funds raised to transportation and traffic-related projects in San Luis Obispo County.

Third: we can't count on the State Legislature to listen and act when it comes to smaller counties like San Luis Obispo. The Legislature has failed to make road improvements and repairs a priority for places like San Luis Obispo, instead sending our dollars to big cities like Los Angeles.

By acting locally, we can assure that the revenue we raise here stays here.  

We don’t fault our locally elected representatives for being outvoted in the Legislature. Our representatives of both parties have made the case for fixing our deteriorating infrastructure in a timely fashion. They know that falling behind not only makes our roads less safe, but delaying needed repairs dramatically inflates future repair costs.

That's why Measure J is so important. Every dime will go to our local San Luis Obispo County streets, roads and transportation needs, and save us from much more costly bills in the future.

The Measure J plan is sound, and addresses needs county-wide to benefit all of our citizens. It has been carefully crafted to meet the most pressing needs first, with an eye to reducing overall future costs.

That's the kind of good local management we deserve.

Join us in supporting Measure J, a sound and locally-managed plan that will benefit us all.

s/ Jorge Aguilar                                                             s/ Clint Pearce
Chairman, Yes on Measure J                                          CEO, Madonna Enterprises

s/ Dave Romero                                                            s/ Dee Lacey, 
Former Mayor, City of San Luis Obispo                           Rancher

— See names under arguments

Arguments AGAINST

Instead of fixing our roads, Sacramento politicians have taken our local gas tax dollars, as well as other transportation funds, and carelessly spent those dollars on failed programs and bureaucracies. Sacramento politicians have a spending problem not a revenue problem. They want you, the forgotten and overburdened taxpayer, to pay yet again.

California is ranked 44th in road condition, making it one of worst in the nation. Yet Sacramento politicians have still not made transportation spending a priority. A State Senate report recently stated that 68% of California roads are in poor or nearly poor condition. The report also stated the total cost for currently unfunded repairs will be roughly $135 billion in the coming decade.

Nonetheless, billions of taxpayer dollars continue to be wasted on programs such as the high-speed rail project -- now estimated to cost over $100 billion. Rather than spending these taxpaying dollars on repairing our crumbling roads, Sacramento politicians are asking you and me to foot the bill.

Caltrans is bloated bureaucracy at its worst. Currently, the department is overstaffed by 3,300 architects and engineers that cost roughly $470 million per year. Caltrans' financial books are in such disarray that they have not been auditable to the satisfaction of the Legislative Analyst's Office and the State Auditor. But, instead of cleaning up and streamlining this failed bureaucracy, Sacramento politicians are simply asking us to pay more.

Another tax increase is not the solution to our problem. Sacramento politicians need to prioritize spending, cut the waste and bureaucracy, and fix our roads. They need 'to feel the heat' of you, the forgotten taxpayer, in order to understand.  VOTE NO ON MEASURE J.

s/ Andrea H. Seastrand                                                  s/ Walter Nielsen
President, Central Coast Taxpayers Association              Secretary/Treasurer SLO County Cattleman’s PAC

s/ Terri A. Stricklin
Secretary, Central Coast Taxpayers Association

— See names under arguments

Replies to Arguments FOR

San Luis Obispo County taxpayers cannot count on the Governor, State Legislature, nor County Board of Supervisors to make transportation infrastructure a major priority. They haven't!  Most cities within this county have a sales tax for transportation, and now all levels of government are asking you to vote for an additional county sales tax, even though the already high state taxes and fees designated for transportation have been diverted to the state general fund for bullet trains, public pensions and the bloated, inefficient Caltrans. 

California’s current per gallon gasoline tax, vehicle registration tax, driver’s license fees, vehicle license fees, greenhouse gas emissions tax, and truck weight tax are the highest in the nation, but still result in substandard road conditions. The Orange County Business Journal reports..."As it is, only 20 cents out of every transportation tax dollar that you pay actually hits the pavement."  Why let the Sacramento and local politicians off the hook, then add insult to injury by asking you to pay again?

The solution is not more taxes, but it's putting rigorous state safeguards in place to ensure the money collected for transportation goes to fix our roads. Those cheerleading for the sales tax are the very ones who will benefit through lucrative contracts, while you, the forgotten taxpayer, will pay 225 million dollars over nine years.  Like that famous movie quote, "I'll be back!", they will be back asking for more in nine years.  Taxpayers need to provide tough love by saying NO ON J!

s/ Andrea H. Seastrand                                                  s/ Walt Nielson
President, Central Coast Taxpayers Association              Secretary/Treasurer SLO County Cattleman’s PAC

s/ Terri A. Stricklin
Secretary, Central Coast Taxpayers Association

— See names under arguments

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

We completely agree with the Central Coast Taxpayers Association that Sacramento politicians have failed to respond to the needs of San Luis Obispo County. The question we have to ask ourselves is, do we honestly think that those elected by Los Angeles and San Francisco voters are suddenly going to see the light and start fixing our local roads and highways?

Local Republicans and Democrats agree we have to take charge of our crumbling infrastructure, and bypass the state bureaucracy.  We say that because;

     a)     The Sacramento political machine isn’t going to change, at least not anytime soon, and

     b)      Delaying repairs will only make the eventual costs skyrocket.

In other words, the sooner we get busy fixing the problem, the less it will cost in the long run.

Remember, every dime raised by Measure J stays right here in San Luis Obispo County, for our roads, our highways and to meet our transportation needs.  Every dime.

Just as important, the repairs and improvements affect every area of the county, so whether you live in a city or a rural community, you will benefit directly from the carefully crafted and well-designed approach of Measure J. 

Our local planners have done an excellent job to make sure we target the most urgent needs first.  Thats the fiscally responsible way to get the job done. 

We urge you to join with your friends and neighbors across San Luis Obispo County in voting “Yes” on Measure J.

s/ Shelly Higginbotham                                                  s/ Fred Strong
Mayor, City of Pismo Beach                                           Councilman, City of Paso Robles

s/ Barbara Nicolls                                                          s/ Noreen Martin
Council Member, City of Grover Beach                            Past President, Visit SLO County

— See names under arguments
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