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In Final Ruling, Judge Says City Has to Change the Way It Bills for Water

Judge Gregory Munoz is making the city dismantle the current four-tiered fee structure.

A judge has ruled that San Juan Capistrano can no longer bill water with the four-tiered structure it has since 2010. Patch photo credit:
A judge has ruled that San Juan Capistrano can no longer bill water with the four-tiered structure it has since 2010. Patch photo credit:

The city of San Juan Capistrano has to change the way it bills for water usage, an Orange County Superior Court judge said this week in a final ruling.

Earlier this month, Judge Gregory Munoz ruled the way the city bills its water customers violates the state’s Constitution because its four-tiered rates which climb with increased water use don’t correspond to the actual cost to deliver the water. The city then filed an objection to the ruling to convince Munoz to rethink his conclusions.

He was not persuaded.

The rate structure, put into place in 2010, “is invalid because fees (not penalties) are imposed on each parcel of property that exceed the proportional cost to the services attributable to each parcel,” Munoz wrote Wednesday.

The city also violates the state Constitution by passing along to every rate payer in the city a fee for supplying recycled water even though most property owners don’t have access to the recycled water, Munoz said.

The ruling requires the city immediately stop billing water using the rate structure “as currently imposed” and find a way to charge customers to comply with the state Constitution. 

Clint Worthington September 10, 2013 at 11:16 AM
Shelly, can you name any natural or man made disaster that has occurred in the past 100 years that has cut off the supply of water from the MWD for seven days to our City ? Yes or no? It is a simple question. I would not limit it to natural disasters, expand it to: nuclear (the last one permanently shut down a nuclear plant down the road), tsunami, rain, heat, drought, flood, snow (yes it snowed here in San Juan in the 40's), haz mat spills, airplane crash (the last airline crash ended up closing Capistrano Airport when a little girl was killed), train problem (the boiler explosion from the steam locomotive in the 20's was technically at Serra, a part of Capistrano Beach), fire (the largest fire in Orange County history, the Stewart Fire in 1959 at 66,000 acres came to what is now the City limits), World War 1 and World War II, and earthquakes. With all of those natural and man made disasters, some worse, and some potentially much worse, through all of that, MWD has still delivered water to our City for over 100 years. Without fail. The GWRP cannot go 60 days without breaking down and only met one of its production goals in almost 10 years despite pouring million and millions of dollars into it andSam Allevato who has been a City Council Member each of those years promised the GWRP would work and even produce more water than ever before. Don't forget the $324,000 a year "water guru" Joe Tait as Laura Freese and Sam Allevato called him, could fix the GWRP.
shelly September 11, 2013 at 12:33 AM
Clint Worthington, It is a yes or no question. Should a city have more than 7 days of emergency water? I don't understand why you can't answer yes or no? There are many disasters all over the country and world that nothing failed and then it did. Have you read anything on the precariousness of water in our region? You seriously believe that everything is super reliable with the water in Southern California which is really a desert that has been transformed by transported water. Is this really all about a political rivalry? I totally get that there is some deep political animosity between you and Sam Allevato but it should not prevent you from having an opinion.
Clint Worthington September 11, 2013 at 05:29 AM
Shelly, please see previous comment posted right above it at 11:16.
shelly September 11, 2013 at 09:50 AM
Clint Worthington, No, I can't name a disaster in our city. But I can name some in other cities where there were no problems for 100 years and then disaster struck. That is what emergency means. Things happen all the time. If you do not want to share your opinion of a yes or no answer for political reasons then don't. Dance around it. I believe that cities should have more than 7 days of emergency water. You seem to believe we do not need it. Okay.
Donna Fleming September 12, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Emergency Preparedness Procedures are the responsibility of the city. Every city has their own plan. If you want to know the specifics of what is planned, for emergency water, power, evacuation, you need to communicate with Contact Michael Cantor, Safety & Emergency Services Manager at 949.234.4565 or mcantor@sanjuancapistrano.org

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