Wednesday, July 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Water rates are unfair

By
From page A8 | May 06, 2014 |

Please vote yes on Measure P! The CBFR water rates are very unfair and will severely penalize all single-family homeowners and home renters however prudently they use water both for in-home and irrigation purposes. If these rates stand, residents in single-family homes will pay 40 percent more for each gallon of water than apartment owners.

It is no coincidence or secret that the CBFR will impose such high water rates that numerous entities in Davis plan to drill their own wells for irrigation and partially secede from the Davis water system, the result of which will be that water rates will increase substantially for the remaining ratepayers far beyond the acknowledged tripling of rates by 2018.

The architects of the CBFR are fully aware that the structure will penalize even the most prudent home-owning irrigator but they have been disingenuous about the consequences. Many residents of single-family homes with yards will be forced to let their gardens die. Gardening will become a privilege of the rich.

With the CBFR rates, combined with increases in sewage treatment and other fees, Davis will have among the highest municipal utility bills statewide. This is in addition to Davis’ already high supplementary property taxes and yet the city faces a serious structural budget deficit that will result in further tax increases. The effects on the local economy and real estate prices will be highly deleterious. Who will want to buy a house in Davis if they have any choice?

Finally, we should deplore the blatant and shameless scaremongering of Herb Niederberger, general manager of utilities, that have no legal or logical basis. If Measure P passes, there will be no awful consequences. Not even leading opponents of P have argued this in their ballot statement or elsewhere. Instead, as City Attorney Harriet Steiner has made clear, within 45 days the city can hold another Proposition 218 election. A much fair water rate structure based on some kind of system of tiers (as is used almost everywhere else), and equal per-gallon water charges for all, can then be voted upon.

Dan Cornford
Davis

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 16 comments

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  • Richard blohmMay 05, 2014 - 5:20 pm

    Agree. Davis has one of the highest property tax rates In the nation. With the continual passage of parcel taxes (The large voting block of students who don't pay Property tax , ) Davis is slowly forcing out retirees Who cannot pay the excessive taxes. The city is run By misguided socialists !

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  • KimMay 05, 2014 - 11:03 pm

    I though seniors could opt out of paying the parcel taxes?

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  • Paul BradyMay 05, 2014 - 10:56 pm

    Tiers hit irrigators pretty hard, too. Using twice as much water should not cost three times as much! The same cost per gallon for irrigators and non-irrigators seems fairer. The City's misconception is that the larger Project required for irrigation needs will produce water that costs more per gallon. However, economies-of-scale show that the cost-per-gallon decreases for the larger system. The City saw this when it down-sized the river-water Project: The Project cost decreased, but unit water-costs decreased less! The irrigators make water less expensive for all!

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  • Jim LeonardMay 06, 2014 - 7:20 am

    Maybe apartment house owners will vote against Measure P since they are getting a break from the City under the current CBFR arrangement. However, most of the apartment owners don't even live in Davis. It's not very fair that they get a break but Davis single family homeowners pay much more! Some of these homeowner I've talked to are planning to leave Davis if the new water rate plan goes through. I am appalled at the disrespect and disloyalty of the current city council AND of all the council candidates EXCEPT Munn. Vote "Yes" on Measure P and vote FOR Munn, the only candidate you can count on to implement Measure P if it passes!

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  • Davis G'maMay 06, 2014 - 5:11 pm

    I agree, Jim. Yes on Measure P and elect John Munn, an honest man.

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  • May 06, 2014 - 9:18 am

    "If these rates stand, residents in single-family homes will pay 40 percent more for each gallon of water than apartment owners." Residences each have their own yards, so use considerably more water than apartment dwellers. Thus owners of single family homes should pay more for water, since during peak times it is they who have caused the system to be the enlarged size it is.

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  • Napoleon Pig IVMay 06, 2014 - 9:19 am

    It's really quite simple. What the City really wants is a blank check from each citizen every month, but proposing that might stir a bit of opposition, so they've decided to disguise the blank check as a turn of the faucet. With this brilliant plan, you never know how much you're spending each time you take a drink of water - so much simpler than cutting a blank check. Brilliant! After all, we do trust our Dear Leaders to be honest and carefully considerate of our best interests, right?

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  • Greg ShenautMay 06, 2014 - 4:08 pm

    It seems to me that a solution to the “numerous entities in Davis plan to drill their own wells for irrigation and partially secede from the Davis water system” problem is to charge people who consume water from the underlying Davis water table whether they go through the city or not.

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  • May 06, 2014 - 5:09 pm

    Good idea, Dan. I know of several wealthy individuals who have spent up to $25,000 to put in private wells in established housing developments, and I'm not referring to more rural/farm type areas like old Willowbank , either. I'm talking about El Macero. Got a big lot and plenty of money, put in your own private well.

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  • Matt WilliamsMay 07, 2014 - 8:56 am

    Never let the facts get in the way of a political argument. The drilling costs for the current El Macero well on Mace Blvd. were well over $2 million. All the water produced by that El Macero well is provided at no charge to the City water system which distributes it to both El Macero and City customers alike, and all those customers pay the exact same rates for the water they use. _________________________________ In the County records you will find that El Macero has received two estimates of what it will cost to put in an irrigation water only piping system. Those estimates were between $8 million and $12 million. The annual debt service cost for $12 million is over $950,000 per year. In 2015 the cost to El Macero for irrigation water from the City system will be $550,000. Why would the smart people in El Macero spend an extra $400,000 per year for the same water? _____________________________ This is just one example of how the Yes On P supporters never let the facts get in the way of a good political argument.

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  • May 07, 2014 - 2:18 pm

    You misread my comment. I am a former good person is El Macero and I am fully aware of the high price of water in the community. If the good people could vote on measure P, they'd vote YES on P

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  • Paul BradyMay 07, 2014 - 4:52 pm

    The new rates are even more unfair to Old Willowbank residents as they have large lots full of trees, gardens and other greenery. Rates more than tripled over the last decade, so we now average close to $100/mo. In 2018 it will be close to $300/mo! We have to think seriously of reviving our former well-based water system for irrigation! Such wells are shallow and inexpensive. Even individuals can afford a solar-run shallow well and several in Davis with very large lots are planning them Some storage or reservoir is also needed. A pool can work for some gardens.

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  • Matt WilliamsMay 07, 2014 - 6:36 pm

    Paul, those large lots with all their plants and trees are a capital asset that Willowbank residents CHOSE to purchase because they were a good real-estate investment that produced high rates of investment return. _____________________ Talk about unfair ... the people you want to pay for Willowbank's high water use are the people who don't have enough money to afford to buy even a small house ... the 26,000 renters in Davis and 25,000 small house/small lot Single Family homes. Those two groups will pay well over $500,000 per year more under your plan and that $500,000 per year will go directly into the pockets of the Willowbank and El Macero residents ... many of whom are in the 1%. You are taking half a million dollars per year from the 99% and giving it to the 1%. Is that really what you believe should be done?

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  • Rich RifkinMay 07, 2014 - 6:44 pm

    "We have to think seriously of reviving our former well-based water system for irrigation! Such wells are shallow and inexpensive." ............ Assuming everything you write is true, Paul, that outcome does not seem to me such a terrible thing. What it would mean is that the water being used exclusively for irrigation (in such cases) will be ground water, likely of a lesser quality and perhaps not potable. That connotes that well-users would only buy higher quality interior water from the WDCWA, and likely would get that at a comparatively low price. That may cause problems for the system as a whole--insofar as the system needs more money to pay its bills. But if those wells are cheap and the water quality is adequate for irrigation, what's the complaint? It seems wise to me to not water a lawn or trees or shrubs with expensive water meant for human consumption and treated to meet the effluent standards at the waste water end of the line.

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  • Curt MillerMay 07, 2014 - 10:01 pm

    "plants and trees are a capital asset that Willowbank residents CHOSE to purchase because they were a good real-estate investment that produced high rates of investment return." What hogwash. Williams is now a mind reader. People landscape their yards for all sorts of reasons but mainly for aesthetic reasons and for practical reasons like creating shady areas. Where does he get this stuff??

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  • Matt WilliamsMay 08, 2014 - 8:41 am

    Clay, you are 100% right. Aesthetics and practicalities like shade do drive landscaping decisions, and higher levels of aesthetics and practicality translate to a higher quality of life, as well as higher property values. Water is simply one of the components of the maintenance costs for those aesthetic and practical features that produce increased capital value.

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