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Santa Monica City Staff Recommends Lower Water Rate Increase
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

November 21, 2016 -- Santa Monica residents and businesses will likely see a hike in their water bill next year, but not as high as previously proposed.

With more money coming into the so-called water fund than expected, City staff has recommended that the rate hike for 2017 be decreased from the previously approved 9 percent to 5 percent.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on this recommendation at its meeting on Tuesday.

In a report to the council, City staff wrote that revenue for the fund was $2.2 million greater than anticipated for the 2016 fiscal year.

Also, expenditures were $16.8 million less than expected in the same time frame.

"The recommended rate adjustment would be sufficient to allow the City to fund necessary operating and capital programs; to deliver potable water to Santa Monica customers reliably, safely and sustainably in compliance with federal and state regulations; and stay on track to achieve water self-sufficiency as planned by 2020," staff wrote.

The rate hikes began in 2015 when the council was told that the water fund was at risk of falling into deficit.

At a February meeting that year, the council voted for a 9 percent hike for the remainder of 2015. Thirteen percent was also on the table.

Also at that meeting, the council determined that a hike of as high as 9 percent should be considered each year for the next four years.

Earlier this year, a 5 percent hike was chosen for the remainder of 2016 ("Santa Monica City Council Approves 5 Percent Hike in Water Rates for This Year," February 26, 2016).

Another major item on the council agenda is a review of the City's progress on updating its coastal land use plan (LUP).

The LUP is a document that addresses local coastal policies, including development, as required by the State's Coastal Act.

The City is in the process of updating its LUP, something that has not been done since 1992.

Among the issues that are addressed in the LUP in addition to development are coastal access, sea level rise and scenic views.

City staff is expected to release a draft of the updated LUP document for public review soon.

Another item on the council agenda is the finalization of an ordinance for new building code standards, most notably addressing energy use, that were given preliminary approval last month.

Included in these updated standards is what City officials say is the first example in the world of requiring all single-family homes be constructed to meet "zero net energy" efficiency.

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