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Ventura County Perspective

Widening of California 118

March 12, 2000

Re "Residents of Somis Dispute Support for Widening the 118," March 3.

Supporting policy objectives with a poll is like legislating through the initiative process. This occurred recently with an opinion poll commissioned by the Ventura County Transportation Commission to determine support for various projects on California 118.

The questions were constructed to give the desired result. Issues as complicated as transportation, which also evolve into land use, cannot be adequately presented nor responded to in a multiple-choice format. How alternatives are presented, if at all, determines what the answers will be.

Ultimately, everyone is going to have to start thinking about how we want this county to grow, because it will. Transportation infrastructure determines where people live and communities grow. That has been true throughout history. Cities have sprung up along rivers, around ports, next to railroads and along highways. The Ventura Freeway corridor is almost completely built out. What remains of farming adjacent to that corridor is going to be built upon within the next 10 years. California 126 was just recently completed. Newhall is proposing a new city on one end, Santa Paula wants to double, and Fillmore has growth in mind. That is what cities do.

Almost all of the roads and highways in Ventura County are congested at critical times of day now. There isn't enough money to pave our way out of the problem nor is it what we want to do.

The world is changing through technology but transportation development is standing still. Money, brainpower and sheer willpower should be directed at finding alternatives. Perhaps the traditional view of alternatives is only part of the answer.

I believe most people who voted for SOAR felt it was a great step toward preserving the agricultural base of Ventura County and the open spaces that divide its cities. Well, by the time SOAR expires, current plans will have transportation infrastructure in place that will open all the land in our three agricultural valleys to development. In the meantime, there is plenty of land outside SOAR boundaries to accommodate growth and create more congestion.

Complacency and reliance on traditional approaches to moving people are going to leave us with a county we don't want to live in and we'll be looking back at our squandered opportunity.

CRAIG UNDERWOOD

Camarillo

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