The anti-fracking and SBCC campus upgrade bills were met with disapproval at the polls

Campaign signs, like the ones shown here, peppered campus this week. Kenneth Song/Daily Nexus

Campaign signs, like the ones shown here, peppered campus this week. Kenneth Song/Daily Nexus

Santa Barbara voters rejected hotly-debated local Measures P and S in Tuesday’s midterm election, with Measure P receiving 37 percent of votes and Measure S receiving 49 percent.

Measure P called for a ban on “high intensity” oil and gas production techniques, specifically hydraulic fracturing and steam injection, with the aim of protecting Santa Barbara County’s water supply, tourism and property value. However, opponents argued it would cripple the economy, violate property rights and was ultimately unnecessary given geographical limitations on fracking. Measure S requested $288 million in bonds to “seismically upgrade facilities, sites and equipment at [Santa Barbara] City College.”

Proponents argued Santa Barbara City College provides the city a valuable resource and needed the upgrade, but opponents decried the high price that would fall on taxpayers, especially considering that most SBCC students come from outside of the district.

Economics Professor Lanny Ebenstein said he opposed Measure P and argued “the economic argument” convinced voters to reject the measure.

“The oil companies provide many job opportunities and services that would have hurt the county’s economy,” Ebenstein said.

“There was a greater conservative and Republican voter turnout than usual, which contributed to the defeat of both Measure P and S, because conservatives and Republicans are less likely to support a school bond and less likely to support oil company restrictions.”

Campaign Committee Chair for the “Say Yes on P” organization Rebecca Claassen said she blamed the measure’s defeat on the $7 million worth of “deceptive advertising” against Measure P funded by the oil industry, but that the campaign still made progress toward positive changes.

“I think it is important that Measure P was on the ballot to raise awareness in the community around dangerous oil extraction techniques moving into our county,” Claassen said. “We need something like Measure P to head off the massive expansion of these risky technics and so measure P is really just the beginning … The hearts and minds of Santa Barbara County have been set on a different course, away from dangerous oil extraction and towards renewable energy.”

Ebenstein, a supporter of Measure S, said he was disappointed with its narrow failure, given the value SBCC could provide with better facilities.

“It’s unfortunate because an opportunity was missed,” he said. “It was a very important issue for UCSB because many SBCC students attend UCSB or live in I.V.”
However, Lou Segal, a member of the “No On S” committee, said he did not believe the measure would increase students’ opportunities of transitioning to a four-year college and that SBCC’s plans to upgrade their school would attract even more students from outside the district, which would only add to the current lack of housing in Isla Vista, citing I.V.’s 0.06 percent vacancy rate.

“There are around four to five thousand SBCC students living in I.V., and almost all students are coming from out of district,” Segal said. “You have a tremendous demand for housing and very little supply. City colleges are not sensitive to the problems they would be causing. The failing of this measure sends a message to SBCC that they didn’t listen to the community very well. They went off on their own.”


A version of this story appeared on page 4 of Thursday, November 6, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.