It’s hard to argue with the statement that Sonoma County roads are in bad shape, but when grass roots group Save Our Sonoma Roads conducted an online survey, 509 of the 624 respondents described them as “bad” or “terrible.” The county has 1,382 miles of roads, but pavement maintenance is funded for only 200 miles. The remaining 1,182 miles receive only pothole filling, according to SOS.

How to fix the problem is a different discussion. In results of the survey released Wednesday by SOS founder Craig S. Harrison, respondents rated the following options:

* Only one-third supported new taxes to fix roads in principle, but support was higher for specific taxes.

* 67% approved of extending the Measure M ¼-cent sales tax supporting local transportation projects (providing $4 million a year after 2025);

* 63% approved of increasing the tourist occupancy tax from 9% to 12% (raising $2.5 million a year);

* 57% approved of charging car owners a new $20 vehicle registration fee (raising $2.8 million a year).

Other responses:

* 29% approved of charging property owners an annual road maintenance tax of $300-500, while 59% disapporoved.

* 59% in principle want to reduce county spending, while only 37% in principle support new revenue.

Get the full report and take the survey at sosroads.org.

Read more about the group in this Road Warrior post.


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  1. Rob

    Even with these taxes, maintenance will only improve
    marginally, according to the report. The real issue here, and the county is unlikely to address it, is the rising cost of employee retirement pensions and benefits. We’re now paying for a Lambroghini when we can’t even afford a Ford. It’s a mess created 10 years ago by Valerie Brown and the then board of supervisors.

    April 4th, 2013 6:42 am

  2. Ben

    Rob is right, it’s the pensions that are a large part of the problem. I was totally surprised at the fat pensions that state, county, and city employees get here in California (I grew up in Georgia). It is unimaginable that after working for 20-30 years anyone needs a pension of more than, say, $30,000 per year. Individual 401k should make up the rest. Why put the taxpayers on the hook for anything more? And why aren’t pension payouts indexed to the economy, tax revenues, spending, etc? Why is it guaranteed that broke cities must keep paying?

    Honestly, after working a government job for 30 years any financially responsible person should have all of their major debts (e.g. house) paid off and should need very little to live off of. Paying anyone 90% of their salary to not work is ridiculous.

    I’m a life-long Democrat, but even I see major issues with spending here in California. There are too many agencies, too many commissions, too much of everything here. Nobody wants to take personal responsibility for themselves, and the laws here seem especially evil because they are written to protect the beneficiaries of the gov’t teat and NOT the taxpayers (e.g. not allowing cities to modify their pension obligations without risking being sued into oblivion).

    The other problem here is that California has an ingrained government culture of just kicking the can down the road and not wanting to deal with problems NOW when it’s cheap to fix them. Instead, they wait until things get worse and more expensive to deal with.

    Has anyone else driven on roads in France and Germany? Their roads are a dream, because they build them right the first time, they maintain them when needed (and not 10 years later), and they based taxes on road use. In fact, I think that Germany gets so much revenue from road taxes (gas tax, car tax, etc) that it’s more than they need for maintenance, so the rest goes to fund public transit — which in turn, helps roads last longer by getting cars off of them.

    Lastly, what it comes down to is not enough commitment to fix our roads. The county needs to make roads a larger part of the budget (considering that, without roads, the economy would come to a standstill) AND they — meaning WE — need to accept that roads are EXPENSIVE to build and maintain properly. If a $500 per year vehicle tax and raising the gas tax by another 50 cents is what it takes, then so be it (let’s just make certain that in the new tax law it states that revenue must go DIRECTLY to road repairs and not to any cushy new gov’t jobs).

    Roads are not free, so we should stop acting like they are.

    April 4th, 2013 8:32 am

  3. Kevin

    Anyone for moving to a toll road model? With Fastrak technology it would not be that hard to implement.

    April 4th, 2013 8:37 am

  4. Guido Metzler

    The question presumes their is no funding for roads. Do people not understand that we already pay for roads and maintenance through gas taxes and DMV fee’s? These funds have been raided by our liberal legislators who view them as a candy jar for their pet welfare projects. What is needed is a law that tells legislators that they can’t touch those funds.

    April 4th, 2013 8:50 am

  5. sonomaborn

    by taking the money from the financial disaster called SMART

    April 4th, 2013 10:22 am

  6. Stony Point Hwy

    By daily parking a CHP in my driveway for a few hours, and tagging all the speeders and garbage dumpers on their way to the county dump. Speeding tickets are 300.00 and littering is 1000.00- that’s alot of $$$.
    I’m on Stony Point rd, south of Todd Rd………….

    April 4th, 2013 11:31 am

  7. Kyle

    How about using the gas tax for what it was actually meant to fund rather than sending it to the General Fund???

    April 4th, 2013 11:39 am

  8. John Murphy

    Guido – the gas taxes aren’t being raided for pet projects – the general fund is being raided for roads. Gas taxes and other vehicle fees don’t even pay for 50% of the money we spend on roads.

    April 4th, 2013 11:49 am

  9. Pot Hole

    A lot of potholes are near trees growing along the roadway. There are a lot of people who want to make a political statement by climbing and living in trees with signs. Let them work a trade: tree occupancy in trade for hole repair work during the day. Signage aloft to include: “Caution: Pot Hole Work Site Below.” Everyone’s happy.

    April 4th, 2013 12:17 pm

  10. Van

    Ben makes some good points but suggesting a $500.00 per vehicle tax is insanity and defeats any logical point that may have been made by an otherwise some what intelligent Democrat. I have a classic that gets driven maybe a 1000 miles a year. Hello none-op and there goes THAT revenue and my weekend cruises. I’m not alone and that idea would go over like a lead balloon anyway. I would be willing to pay more in gas tax if it was just for roads and not one thing else. No funding of bike lanes, traffic calming, loopy bike boulevard experiments, traffic circles or roundabouts…….alternate transportation or wheel chair access for puppies, culverts for endangered guppies or free bike programs for the homeless or any other idea the typical Democrat come up with to garner votes.

    April 4th, 2013 12:37 pm

  11. Ben

    I wonder if Van has ever been to Europe where there is extensive use of traffic circles, bike lanes (even dedicated bike pathways), and other improvements that he doesn’t think are worth paying for. The fact is, these improvements make driving a LOT more pleasurable experience. Traffic circles, when done properly, are AWESOME. Say goodbye to 4-way stops and traffic lights… just keep moving. What’s not to like about that? What’s not to like about getting cyclists out of the road way and giving them their own safe space to ride?

    April 4th, 2013 1:59 pm

  12. Arno

    Why not get a licensing fee from the bicyclist? Plenty of them on the roads and as DMV states they are to be treated the same as a motor vehicle in regards to road use, well?

    April 4th, 2013 3:26 pm

  13. Eric

    This is a self-selected survey. It has no statistical validity. It should be ignored.

    April 4th, 2013 4:18 pm

  14. dwight goss

    stop believing the false promises of the politicians. the smart train should have been done 20 years ago, even tho they already owned ther roadbed and got the sales tax increases. califo already has the highest gas in the country and the gas tax is supposed to repair the roads. the north bay is probably the most populous area in the country with no interstate, train or subway. i waited for 60 years for them to widen 101 to accomodate all the people that have moved to the area in recent years and they are still not done. and to use todd rd., fulton rd. and stony pt. rd. as an arterial loop interstate is as laughable as everything else calif. does for the infrastructure. i stopped waiting for meaningful action years ago and moved back to arizona where they get things done without all the increased taxes and bs.

    April 4th, 2013 5:38 pm

  15. connie george

    I’m wondering where the last monies from the state went that was for the streets & roads. I’m tired of paying more for the mistakes our goverment has done. Now for how to pay for our streets now, take it out of the pockets of our city officals

    April 5th, 2013 12:56 am

  16. Joe

    No where do I see how much is spent on those 200 miles of roads that get repaved every few years, even when there is no need to. What they did to Occidental rd by smoothing off the top 1-2″ then put tar & gravel on top would be far better than the current pot hole filled roads that are currently on roads like Irwin and other alike. SInce we don’t know how they spend the $$$ they have now, how do we determine how to pave the crappy roads that are left?

    April 5th, 2013 6:47 am

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