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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Water Rates Not as Bad as You Think

Reader says, compared to other areas, we're really in the middle.

By Sara Shelton

I’ve been going door-to-door in our neighborhoods, handing out candidate information on the two city council candidates I’m supporting, and have found that the majority of residents I spoke to are concerned with their water bills. So I’ve taken the time to read, ask questions and have come up withsome conclusions on my own.

Our charges are in the median range. In other words, if we compare what we pay versus what other cities are paying we are right in the middle.

The outrageous statements coming from the rabble raisers simply confirm that they don’t have a grasp of the situation California is in. San Juan Capistrano’s Water Department is forward-thinking and makes 50-year plans for the future-not simply day-to-day schedules. The Ground Water Recovery Plant will be a viable source of water in the future.

Some people have been demanding that we “shop around” for the cheapest water. Oh please, let’s get real. Bringing in another source of water would require retrofitting our entire city…. Whoops, there goes the savings. It’s not the same as shopping around for the cheapest gasoline.

And don’t forget to include other things that factor in to the other agency’s revenues but don’t show up as a water fee, like property taxes and special district assessments, like Mello-Roos.

So please educate yourself and look at the candidates records before you jump on the band wagon with the senseless. Make an informed decision as to who you want representing you on our City Council. I’m going with the candidates who have demonstrated their worth: Ginny Kerr, currently serving us as aplanning commissioner, and Councilman Sam Allevato, a proven leader.

Sincerely,
Sara Shelton

Lon Uso October 22, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Taking away tiered rates would hurt the low income, low user customers like our fixed income seniors living in small condos and benefit people like Roy that has a huge piece of property with tons of fruit trees that use a lot of water. I guess these guys don't care how they hurt fixed income seniors!!!!
Clint Worthington October 22, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Jonathan, the industry standards for tiered water rates for other cities is not based upon conservation. Our cities tiered water rates are set for conservation. The Fourth District Court of Appeals (City of Palmdale vs Palmdale Water) upheld that decision last October and it became case law. That means that the City of SJC reason for the tiered water structure is illegal. That is public record Jonathan and you are welcome to look it up. I think in all fairness it should be disclosed that you are employed by Faubel (sp) and Associates who represents Poseiden. Poseiden is trying to build GWRP. Any negative publicity could effect Poseiden and your wallet.
Clint Worthington October 22, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Jonathan, even leadership that invests into a failing GWRP that has not met any of its goals in 7 of eight years. The GWRP is not working and has not been working.
Clint Worthington October 22, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Jonathan, don't forget Sam Allevato supported Larry Agran a Democrat and took contributions from public employee unions. In fact, in a Patch article, he is even supported by the Orange County Professional Firefighters. The same ones who put out the hit piece on Lon Uso.
Clint Worthington October 22, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Lon, the entire enterprise collapsed. A 8.2 million dollar deficit. The Utility Deparment had to "borrow" money from the City to stay afloat. The cash balance was in the red. Lon, the enterprise already collapsed.
Clint Worthington October 22, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Lon, have you looked at the low income rates? Do you have any idea what they are. The low income people have already been hurt. Over 80 people a month are having there water shut off according to a Utility Report.
Clint Worthington October 22, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Frank E., I love this community also having lived here 27 years. I am sorry that you feel it is negativity. The things that you are being told are simply not true. That is why I try and document each time where you can find the source document that you can read for yourself. Not it is not perfect. However, it could be better.
Clint Worthington October 22, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Lon, that is not what I said. I said that no one has promised lower rates. To promise lower rates would be wrong. That investment into the GWRP was made by the San Juan Basin Authority. The City is also leasing the GWRP. We as taxpayers do not own it. The wells are not perfoming. The water table is dropping forcing the wells to pump murkier water and causing the wells to fail. In addition, the filters are all failing prematurely due to the dirty water. Have you ready any of the Utility Commision reports or the City Manager reports. It is all detailed in those reports. Take a few minutes and read the last several months of them. They are on the City website.
Lon Uso October 22, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Met has stopped promising full supply for the next 100 years at least 5 years ago when the perfect storm of lower supplies from the Colorado river due to development in the bordering states, drought and a growing opposition from northern California to share resources. Relying solely on Met is a fools game and I would not put my residents in that kind of jeopardy.
Lon Uso October 22, 2012 at 10:07 PM
no doubt it is a bad idea to promise to do something you know you cant do!!!! the problem is that your candidates insinuate that they can lower rates by closing the plant and buying Met water. that is patently false and you are using that issue to dupe voters that are mad about their water rates
Jim Reardon October 22, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Before everyone gets too far off in the weeds concerning the CTA lawsuit, it might be useful for you all to read the most recent amended complaint. This lawsuit is really about a violation of the California Constitution in setting the city's water rates. You can read the actual legal complaint here: http://goo.gl/y13PM Questions about the complaint will be handled on Thursday's information session, as reported elsewhere.
Whiskey Bent October 22, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Volzke, are you suggesting politicians may be lying? Shocking! (That’s for Penny) :) All I know is Allevato and Kerr are firmly in favor of the GWRP. The other candidates claim not to be. My concern isn’t that Byrnes and McCarthy are lying, it’s that Allevato and Kerr are telling the truth. If candidates are lying then shame on them, but if I vote for Allevato again hoping he’ll change then shame on me. For those of us who don’t support the GWRP we are no worse off by voting for 2 of the other 3 candidates.
Lon Uso October 22, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Hit pieces Clint, plural. Over 30 thousand dollars worth. If you are going to use this issue, don't trivialize it!!!!
Lon Uso October 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Poseidon is a desal project in HB, am I wrong? What does that have to do with a GWRP
Lon Uso October 22, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Jim, if your lawsuit is successful the City Attorney should be fired on the spot and if the result is ending tiered rates you will hurt many low income and senior residents.
Lon Uso October 22, 2012 at 10:53 PM
OK then, devastated. If the cost of water is recovered using one rate, those most vulnerable will be most affected and will know what really high water rates are and high users will get a huge break, good going Nonsensers!!! guess you didn't think those consequences through. kind of like most of your policies.
Jim Reardon October 22, 2012 at 11:05 PM
An allocation-based water rate structure that includes tiers, such as the one concocted for San Juan Capistrano, is a license to steal. Allocations are handed out based someone's political view of what constitutes "good" behavior and "bad" behavior. Formulas like ('square footage of property minus 2x the square footage of home') are contrived to raise rates by placing blame. Some allocations even change monthly based on the weather. And our resulting rate tiers are a form of unlawful punishment, not cost recovery, as the law requires. You assume that the city's cost to acquire and deliver water are all justifiable. I say that the excessive revenue generated by the illegal rate structure has been used by the city to justify its excessive cost structure, part of which is attributable to the GWRP. Someone here stated the the money collected in our rates that was to pay debt service on a bond never issued is, instead, being spent by the city for other purposes in the water system. This is exactly the problem. Under such a theory, any tax or fee is justifiable. But the state Constitution appears to say otherwise. A judge will get to decide. It's a fairly simple question.
Lon Uso October 22, 2012 at 11:34 PM
As to the judges decision, we shall see. The GWRP is a legal expense for the City. It is a long term obligation that it must meet and it is appropriate that water rates reflect that obligation. To me, that is a simple fact. The other fact is that, as perhaps an unintentional consequence of this action, a potentially negative impact may befall those most vulnerable in the City. sometimes good intentions are just not enough.
Jonathan Volzke October 22, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Clint, you are your facts ... are just wrong. Poseidon is not trying to build a GWRP. They are building at ocean desalination plant, such as those used all over the world. Actually, one could argue, any failure of the city's GWRP would benefit our client, Poseidon, by eliminating an alternative source of water. And while you don't like to get facts from experts, those in the water industry will tell you, alternatives to MET are necessary. The details are important, Clint, being wrong about my client's project certainly shows you're not detail-oriented when it comes to facts. Again, you can say something as many times as you'd like, but it won't make it true.
Jonathan Volzke October 22, 2012 at 11:54 PM
The best move with the lawsuit, was the timing in filing it. Unresolved before the election. Allegations hang out there ... if you lose in six months (and, honestly, Jim, you've lost a couple of lawsuits against public agencies), no big deal. The campaigns are over then.
Lon Uso October 23, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Jim, I re read your comment and was a bit disturbed by your use of the term "license to steal" are you insinuating that the staff and electeds are stealing from the residents? You couldn't, right? your ethics would never allow that, you are too fair. In fact, since you want nothing more than to educate the voters you must have invited the City Attorney to participate in Thursdays "information session" to make sure that people get both sides of the issue. Isn't that what an information session is? Otherwise it would be a one sided, crass political function to spoon feed voters one side of an issue and you would never participate in something so unfair and deceptive.
Jonathan Volzke October 23, 2012 at 12:25 AM
And before we all drink Jim and Clint's Kool-Aid (made with SJC water, by the way), read this article: http://www.kysq.org/docs/waterbudgets.pdf If you make it through the article, you'll see that costs associated with developing future water sources can be covered through rates, and that, yes, tiered rates can also be legal. As far as the Palmdale v. Palmdale Water case? Here is a news release announcing the two parties settled several cases. The release indicates allocations are still in place, but with the base allocation increased by 10 percent: http://www.palmdalewater.org/PDF/Press_Releases/2012/Press_Release_20120906.pdf And finally, as far as the case you keep citing as your "proof" SJC is in violation: it seems remarkably different from what you claim: It does not say tiered rates are a violation, per se -- it says Palmdale erred in using different amounts for different TYPES of customers that triggered the different tiers. Here's another. Palmdale water was dinged because it charged different rates for irrigation and residential users, not because it charged tiered rates to residential users. http://www.kmtg.com/resources/legal-alerts/water-district-s-new-rate-structure-failed-comply-requirements-proposition-21 http://www.bbklaw.com/?t=40&an=8588&format=xml I wouldn't bet the house on your lawsuit, Clint.
Jonathan Volzke October 23, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Clint, I'm just waiting for you to show the same righteous indignation about McCarthy's lie as you would about any of the sitting council members. We disagree about things, but I've always respected you. This seems a little hypocritical. You filed a formal complaint when John Taylor voted on a project that was 2 feet short of the mandatory 500-foot buffer from his home, but you accept McCarthy's intentional lie. Surprises me.
SJCNative October 23, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Uhhhh Lon, the City Attorney was replaced several months ago. If you lived here you would have known that.
Lon Uso October 23, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Hey native, I thought you gals weren't going to respond to me anymore. Well good news on the attorney, I hope they fired the whole firm otherwise it does not matter. If they fired the firm and got some real lawyers your case is going down in flames.
Lon Uso October 23, 2012 at 04:37 AM
This can't be right Jonathan, Jim said it was simple, a done deal, merely a formality for the judge.
Capo mom October 23, 2012 at 04:55 AM
And Jonathon did the CUSD community a disservice when told us these Children FIrst guys were right for CUSD. http://sanjuancapistrano.patch.com/articles/cusd-trustee-alpay-behind-one-of-the-misleading-domain-names He likes to blame the demise of his paper on others. But he virtually turned the Dispatch over to Children First and people got sick of it. When asked about their behavior now, he has nothing to say. Maybe he has "moved on" but there is no evidence that his judgement has improved. He stood for the good old boys at CUSD, just as he does here. His judgement about candidates and issues is questionable at best.
Jonathan Volzke October 23, 2012 at 05:48 AM
Capo Mom -- There's been no demise of The Dispatch.It's doing better than ever. And I'm not sure who you are, so I'm not sure who has asked me about "their" behavior ... Well, nobody has asked me, so your post is baseless. Your desperation is showing. The CUSD race has nothing to do with the SJC Council race, and I'm amused that your ilk alternate between saying I've lost any influence in the community, then try to attack me in an effort to undermine my opinion. Either I'm relevant or I'm not. You, of course, are anonymous, so completely irrelevant. As for standing for the "good old boys at CUSD," I'm not sure who you are, or when you got involved, but the "good old boys" of the school district are long, long, gone. Your post is just further evidence that there's maybe a dozen of you so obsessed that you create different screen names and post all over Patch. And if you're going to falsely, senselessly post about me, please spell my name correctly. Thanks, Jonathan.
Capo mom October 23, 2012 at 06:35 AM
Well the parakeet cages in my neighborhood say otherwise about the Dispatch. If it were truly doing better than ever, I imagine you'd still be there milking it to try indoctrinated the residents of SJC. Instead we find you trying to get it done for fun and profit here on Patch. Well good luck with that, lol. I haven't followed the city council race much until I noticed your comments prattling on about honesty and integrity in the campaign process. You lecture that voters have a responsibility to be informed and slough your responsibility at the Dispatch for failing to do so and worse. You should know that among my "ilk", your support of the usual suspects in the city council race, along with your tacit approval of your former school district champions' tactics in CUSD is garnering votes for newcomers. And I suppose that is all to the good. Don't think of it as influence though, more like anti-influence. As for relevancy, it's over-rated and not my concern. I have no delusions of grandeur, I am just a mom. And apparently a poor speller. O well, it's enough for me.
4 square October 23, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Amen, Capo mom!!! Mr Uso thinks life in our little hamlet is all about him even though he moved so he wouldn't have to show his face around here anymore. Volzke is a Brad Gates wannabe and that's an insult to Gates. Brad is creepy but at least he is good at what he does. Watching Uso and Volzke post is like reruns of a bad reality show. I can't decide if it's the Biggest Loser, The Weakest Link or the one where they get voted off the island. They are pathetic.

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