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.