The SFID 8-page “Notice of Public Hearing” for proposed water rate increases, required by the California Constitution Prop. 218 “Right to Vote on Taxes Act”, authorizes customers to tell SFID if they approve of the way rates have been structured. September 20, 2018, SFID Board voted 3 – 2 to move forward with the proposed rates. (3 Solana Beach Directors voted “yes”; the 2 RSF/Fairbanks Directors voted “no”).
- Written protest form must be turned in to SFID offices by 8:30 am, Thursday, November 15, 2018.
- Written protest form can be hand-delivered, 5920 Linea Del Cielo, RSF, or mailed, SFID PO Box 409, RSF 92067, but cannot be emailed, scanned or faxed.
- One written protest form per service address. (Private fire protection meters do not allow a second protest form per service address.)
- Print legibly. SFID will reject protest forms that are not easily read.
Please Note: The Constitution does not require public agencies to include actual protest forms in their 218 notices. However, many public agencies do provide the form – a respectful and transparent courtesy to their customers. SFID Management continues to refuse to extend customers this courtesy, despite the Oct. 1st mailing having an empty page of paper. Do you deserve this simple courtesy for the money you send the District?
- Prior to 2006, SFID had a single, uniform rate: all water was the same cost per hcf. From 2006 – 2016, SFID’s Tier 1 was 1-15 hcf and there was no controversy about the cost of water between Solana Beach customers and Rancho Santa Fe/Fairbanks customers.
- Starting with the 2016 rate increases, my primary concern with the proposed rate structure is the continued insistence that customers who normally never use more than 37 units of water – by virtue of the small size of their property – are provided 100% of their water needs (indoor and outdoor irrigation) with the lowest price Lake Hodges water, (currently Tier 1 & 2; proposed Tier 1).
- I can accept setting Tier 1 at 1-20 hcf, which is the mean winter quarter usage, the best indicator of indoor water usage. The two RSF/Fairbanks Directors continually advocated for setting Tier 1 at either 1-15 hcf or 1-20 hcf. The three Solana Beach Directors and Management would not engage in serious discussion to have all customers - regardless of property size - have their outdoor irrigation needs charged at a blended water rate of imported water and “remaining” local Lake Hodges water. “Remaining local water” refers to lowest cost local Lake Hodges water available after every customer’s indoor water usage needs are provided at the lowest local Lake Hodges water cost. That the three Solana Beach Directors and Management refused to even direct the rate consultant to come back to the Board with a second water rate proposal to evaluate was beyond disappointing. This is the primary reason I turned in my Prop. 218 Protest Form.
As previously noted in this column, for the past year the Rancho Santa Fe Association engaged a nationally recognized water rate consultant and attorneys, one of whom is very active in Prop. 218 actions. The RSFA advocated for a return to the single, uniform rate. I appreciate completely the technical reasons underlying their position, and would cast my vote to support a uniform rate. My political assessment is Solana Beach Directors will not voluntarily support a return to a single, uniform rate, and that the direction of the Courts would be necessary before Solana Beach Directors cast votes to reinstitute a uniform rate. Hence, my compromise position of Tier 1 being 1-20 hcf.
Tell Santa Fe Irrigation District to seriously evaluate an alternate rate structure of Tier 1 1-20 hcf and Tier 2 >21 hcf.
Exercise your Constitutional right: Submit a Written Protest by Nov. 15th.
Continue the dialogue with SFID that began in 2016 when 20% of all SFID customers submitted written protests to the previous flawed rate structure.
I am happy to discuss further why the proposed rate structure is flawed. Feel free to call at (858) 759-1306 or email at email@example.com. There is a bit of an “inside baseball” aspect to rate analysis that does not lend itself to a one page summary.