With the results of the November ballot coming out, Measure B received over 67 percent of the vote, qualifying it as one of the many measures that will go into effect right away. According to Larkspur Mayor Kevin Haroff, Measure B proposes a 1.75 percent
sales tax on all goods and services sold in Larkspur. The city hopes to use the funds raised from the tax to repair Larkspur’s roads.
Haroff sees the state of roads as a major problem, saying that they are in need of repaving. He cited a report by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) which recently graded the quality of roads in cities around the Bay Area.
“The roads are in terrible shape,” Haroff said. “We’ve seen reports that rank the quality of our roads as among the worst in the Bay Area.”
Director of Public Works Julian Skinner also believes the roads are in less than ideal shape, pointing out that they ranked toward or at the bottom of multiple categories, including the MTC report.
“There’s a classification of streets and we’re in the second to last one, which is poor,” Skinner said. “If you look at our network as a whole, we actually have the worst streets of any other city in the county.”
Though there is no official goal yet for the amount of funds the city hopes to raise, Skinner estimated they would pull in around 25 to 30 million dollars from the tax in order to fund the project. He also said that at least 80 percent of the money raised will go directly towards repairing the roads.
Skinner said this is something that needs to happen sooner rather than later, as he warned that unkempt streets could become an even bigger problem in the future.
“The sooner you can fix the pavement the better, because it continues to deteriorate over time,” Skinner said.
Haroff stated that the quality of the roads is something the community is concerned about and feels is a large problem. Skinner mentioned the ‘spring community survey’ that Larkspur conducted earlier this year that backs up that perspective.
“We actually did a survey before we moved forward with the ballot measure, and we had an overwhelming portion of respondents indicate that they were concerned over the condition of the streets and that they wanted streets fixed sooner rather than later,” Skinner said.
Because of residents’ desire to repair the streets, there has been a solid amount of support from Larkspur citizens for the proposed road work.
“We’ve had a lot of very positive feedback from the community on what we’ve done, as well as encouragement to continue,” Haroff said.
Both Haroff and Skinner said the repairs would impact the entire city, adding on to the parts that have already been paved over the past few years.
“We’ll be doing a paving program for the whole city,” Skinner said. “Within the past five years we’ve paved a quarter of the city, so we’ll be looking to get the remaining 75 percent of the streets.”
As far as the timeline is concerned, both Skinner and Haroff expect the repairs to take about five years, though the exact schematics of the project have yet to be drawn out.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Haroff said. “We’d like to have the tax in place and then get help from financial institutions so we can upgrade the roads over the next five years.”
However, the efforts to maintain the roads has stretched much longer, going back a few years when the city first began to address the problem.
“For the last four years, we’ve had a very active effort to raise money and apply it to fixing our streets,” Haroff said. “[Measure C] was put in place four years ago and the proceeds of that tax have been used, by and large, for a program of fixing our streets.”
Junior Matthew Tede said that living on one of Larkspur’s many deteriorating roads can be a burden due to the construction, rather than the quality of the roads.
“I live on a street that has been getting a lot of work,” Tede said. “Piedmont Avenue only has one exit and that is Magnolia, which has also been getting a lot of work.”
Tede also pointed out that the construction inconveniences him in a variety of ways, from driving to walking.
“For me it is really annoying because when you turn onto Magnolia, you cannot see oncoming cars very well,” Tede said. “Also, the pavement leading to the crosswalk is getting worked on, so the only option is to cross the street in a place with no crosswalk.”
Tede did say that, although he may not be the biggest fan of the new sales tax, he does believe it can be beneficial to the community.
“I think that a lot of people might be really negatively affected by it, but at the same time this may allow for more funding to be directed towards bigger problems,” Tede said.