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Activist Group Urges Opposition to Santa Monica Water Rate Hike Proposal

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

February 17, 2015 -- Calling the plan “precipitous,” slow-growth activist group Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City (SMCLC) issued an email to supporters Monday urging them to oppose the proposal for a nearly 80 percent water rate hike.

A reluctant City Council approved the plan in concept in December. The approval could be finalized next Tuesday, but residents and others will also have their say that day during the public hearing.

In its email, SMCLC told supporters they could oppose the plan by filling out an objection form and sending it to the City Clerk before before the public hearing.

Santa Monica Water Resources Manager Gil Borboa told the Lookout earlier this month that the plan cannot go into effect if a majority of property owners submit written protest before the meeting.

“Resident opposition to these huge rate increases is extraordinarily broad and deep,” SMCLC wrote in a letter to the City Council that is linked to the email. “The City has not made the case for these precipitous, jarring increases.”

The letter continues, “Residents are rightly upset by a proposal to nearly double rates at the same time mandatory water cutbacks are being implemented.”

The plan calls for a 9 percent rate hike this fiscal year and another 13 percent each year after that for the next four years.

It is based on a report from consultant Kennedy/Jenks that determined this was the best method for Santa Monica to achieve the council’s goal of a self-sufficient water supply by 2020 and paying for the structural improvements to do this.

The City currently receives a significant amount of water from the Metropolitan Water District.

SMCLC called the 2020 goal “overly ambitious,” and said a “more reasonable” time period should be established.

“Water self-sufficiency has been a long time, important, and oft delayed Santa Monica goal,” SMCLC wrote. “To now try to achieve it in such a compressed time period without a good plan to pay for it, is poor planning.”

SMCLC said the council should adopt a one-year plan “with a modest rate increase” that would allow time to come up with what it said would be a better plan. The group’s specific idea is a water bond.

“This would permit current and future Santa Monica water users, who will reap the benefits of these projects, to pay for them over time,” SMCLC wrote. “This is how cities customarily address these issues and Santa Monica has done so in the past.”

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