Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Bob Dunning: Water rates are now in the people’s hands

BobDunning2W

By
From page A2 | February 13, 2014 | Leave Comment

You may want to take note of this date, for I come not to bury the Davis City Council but to praise it.
Yes, at the end of a long and arduous Tuesday night meeting, with the fate of the free world hanging in the balance, the Davis City Council did the right thing by agreeing to put the citizen initiative to overturn our new water rates on the June 2014 ballot.
The council had several foot-dragging options available that could have delayed the vote all the way into 2016 or perhaps even have prevented a vote altogether, but it wisely decided that the spirit of the initiative process should be respected in the shortest possible time frame.
For sure, the initiative does not represent the so-called “will of the people.” While 1,700 valid signatures on a petition were more than enough to qualify the measure for the ballot, 1,700 is far short of a majority of this town’s voters.
The “will of the people” on this issue will be on full display for everyone to see and assess once the votes are counted come June 3.
If the rates are overturned, it will be back to the drawing board for the city, with the future of the surface water project on uncertain ground.
After all, if you go back to the language of Measure I, which passed with 54 percent of the vote last March, it asks “Shall ordinance No. 2399 be adopted, which grants permission to the City of Davis to proceed with the Davis Woodland Water Supply Project, to provide surface water as an additional supply of water, subject to the adoption of water rates in accordance with the California Constitution (Proposition 218)?”
In other words, the water project appears to be legally dependent upon the “adoption of water rates.” Thus, if those very rates are overturned by a vote of the people, one could argue that the water project itself fails. The city, not surprisingly, would argue otherwise.
In any regard, as a practical matter, if the rates are overturned the city won’t have the money to fund its share of the project, which presents a number of interesting, if troubling, scenarios.
Last month, of course, Yolo County Superior Court Judge Dan Maguire ruled that our new water rates do indeed fit the proportionality requirement of Proposition 218. In other words, the rates are legal. To use the judge’s words, they meet “constitutional muster.”
Maguire’s ruling, however, does not in any way prevent a citizens’ initiative to overturn those very rates.
Additionally, he didn’t necessarily rule that the rates were “fair” to all ratepayers, since the fairness issue was not before the court.
In a legal sense, the term “proportionality” is not the definition of fairness. Rather, according to Proposition 218, “The amount of a fee or charge imposed upon any person as an incident of property ownership shall not exceed the proportional cost of the service attributable to the parcel.”
In this case “proportional” simply means equal to the cost of providing the service. Some would call that “fair,” while others would say true fairness would reflect a ratepayer’s ability to pay.
Fairness, after all, if a highly relative term.
Is it fair that high-income citizens are in a higher tax bracket than low-income citizens? Some would say “yes” and others would say “no,” but as a society we’ve decided it’s something we can live with despite frequent protestations from those paying the higher tax rates.
Is it fair that some kids get a free lunch at school and other kids don’t? Is it fair that some states tax Social Security benefits and other states don’t? The list goes on and on.
What we’ll be voting on in June, thanks to the council’s ruling Tuesday night, are the rates, pure and simple. The beauty of that is that the rates are now in the capable hands of the good citizens of this town to decide as they will.
And while the recent decisions of a thoughtful Superior Court judge or five dedicated City Council members or the many hard-working members of the Water Advisory Committee are to be respected, it’s never a bad thing to let the people have the final say.
I’m confident we can all live with whatever the voters decide come June 3.

— Reach Bob Dunning at bdunning@davisenterprise.net

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

Going green at church, school, everywhere

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Former caretaker convicted of murder, elder abuse

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

Old friend helps Brad and others find kidneys

By Dave Jones | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Chuck Rairdan joins school board race

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Ukraine insurgents reject call to quit buildings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 4 Comments

 
For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

UCD to host Global Health Day event

By Cory Golden | From Page: A2

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
‘Hitchhiking’ dog looking for new home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Online K-12 school holds info night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Schwenger lawn signs available

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

Volunteers needed for Grad Night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Davis grad makes rain collection a business

By Jason McAlister | From Page: A4 | Gallery

A few spots left on history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Chipotle fundraiser boosts Emerson tech upgrade

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Event to provide nature scholarship

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Students have new options on leasing front

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Groups join for a day of service

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
NAMI backers walk in Sacramento

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Food for the hungry

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

.

Forum

Dad makes mom look bad

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Early help is a great investment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

More tax money? Answer the question

By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

 
UCD IS responsible for students

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

In search of great ideas

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Please keep the nursery open

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

.

Sports

Sharks double up Kings in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Aggies lose a slugfest in opener at Riverside

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Fox coming to UCD; Riffle heads to Florida

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
DHS’ Golston goes full-bore on the diamond

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devils show more life in loss to Mitty

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
DYSA roundup: Intensity has big week; 10U games dominate schedule

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sports briefs: Aggies set the academic bar high

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Pro baseball roundup: Susac sends Sacramento to a rare loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

‘Transcendence’: A whole new level of tedium

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
‘The Bloom’ paves way for Whole Earth Festival

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

DHS tribute to Tony Fields slated for April 25-26

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
UCD, city team up for Music on the Green

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

.

Business

Ford turns its Focus to domestic market

By Ali Arsham | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, April 18, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A9

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

Lyon Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

Acacia at Huntington Square

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Jamie Madison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Yolo FCU

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Travis Credit Union

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

Kim Eichorn

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Suzanne Kimmel

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Lynne Wegner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Kim Merrel Lamb

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Patricia Echevarria

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Chris Snow

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Andrew Dowling

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Sheryl Patterson

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Don Guthrie

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Heather Barnes

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Julie Partain & Dick Partain

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Malek Baroody

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER13

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Willowbank Park

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Team Traverso

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Julie Leonard

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Tim Harrison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Tracy Harris

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Lori Prizmich

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Joe Kaplan

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Raul Zamora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Open House Map

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

F1rst Street Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20