City government

Mobile home park still looking for special water rates

By From page A1 | August 27, 2013

Residents at the Rancho Yolo mobile home community in East Davis haven’t given up their fight for more affordable water rates just yet.

When the City Council reconvenes Tuesday after its summer recess, council members will have to consider a request by the mobile home park to revise the rates it was assigned as part of the rate setting process the council finished up in March.

On March 19, the council approved five years of rate increases in order to raise enough revenue to pay for the city’s share of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water agency surface water project, now priced at about $110 million.

In five years, as a result, the average water bill in Davis is expected to triple and continue to rise thereafter.

Just before the council approved the rates in March, residents of the mobile home park began to raise concerns that, because of their unique set-up, they would be charged unfairly under the rate structure the city approved for the first two years of the five-year rate schedule under Proposition 218.

The first round of increases went live on May 1.

Under that tiered rate structure, Rancho Yolo is considered a multi-family water customer because the 262 individual homes on the property all receive their water through only two water meters, similar to an apartment complex, rather than their own individual meters like single-family homes do.

The cost-of-service analysis the city performed before the rates were passed reveals that multi-family properties put more of a load on the overall water system than single-family houses and consequently cost the city more money to maintain water service delivery.

But Jerry Hallee, president of the Yolo Rancho Community Association, still believes that Rancho Yolo shouldn’t be considered a multi-family water customer.

Hallee says Rancho Yolo’s property owner passes along the utility costs to all the residents dollar for dollar, meaning, because the multi-family rate is set higher than the single-family rate, every extra gallon of water consumed costs more than it would if the community was charged on a single-family rate.

“The 2013 variable/consumption rate for Rancho Yolo increases 58 percent from the present $1.41 to $1.81 per ccf and then the 2014 rate increases another 24 percent to $2.24,” Hallee said in a March letter to the city.

“Other Davis single-family homes will see their 2013 variable/consumption rates decrease 22 percent and then return to levels slightly higher than present levels in 2014.”

So, rather than accepting the imposed increases, Hallee and Rancho Yolo have asked the city to implement a new rate structure specific to trailer home neighborhoods that only would increase rates at the same level as single-family homes.

But staff will recommend to the council Tuesday to deny Rancho Yolo its request, for a number of reasons.

First, staff says that if the city accepted the proposed rate structure, it would cause the entire city’s rate billing system to be disproportionate.

“The city’s rates must be proportional, based on a cost-of-service analysis and one customer class cannot subsidize another,” the city’s water rate consultant, Bartle Wells Associates, wrote in a memo to the city. “… The rates proposed by Rancho Yolo are not based on a cost-of-service analysis and therefore would not comply with the requirements of Prop 218.”

Further, staff says that if the city accepted the revision proposed by Rancho Yolo, it actually would result in a 19 percent increase in costs to the mobile home community.

It also appears that if the council chose to change the rates it has assessed Rancho Yolo, it would have to restart the rate setting process.

“It would be impractical to incur the cost and delay of repeating the noticing and adopting requirements of Prop. 218,” staff writes in its report to the council.

Other regular items of note on Tuesday’s City Council agenda:

* Consideration of Mission Residences proposal, a 14-unit condominium complex geared towards seniors on the 200 block of B Street downtown.

— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected], (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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