Urges Attendance to CVWD Meeting

Crescenta Valley Water District is having a board meeting on June 25 to discuss and possibly vote on increasing our water and sewer rates for the 16th time in 16 years (date/time/place here: https://nextdoor.com/events/3030484/). I say possibly because even though the front desk just verified the meeting over the phone, the date and agenda are not currently on their website.

CVWD continues to raise our rates by 4% to 8% every year, year after year. In times of drought, they say they need the increase to cover the cost of water; when it’s rainy they claim they need to cover for the lack of usage.

The main items for this meeting:

1. The prop 218 notice they sent to customers incorrectly asked for protest letters *only from property owners* as opposed to any ratepayer. I’ve attached a copy of one ratepayer letter on this subject that I’ve been asked to include here.

2. The prop 218 notice sent to customers didn’t specify what the rate increase would be spent on. It gave generalizations like “clean water” but it should have identified specific areas that need an increase in expenses. Proposition 218 specifically says that rate increase notice have to show where the rate increase will go.

3. CVWD refused to accept protest letters that were obviously real protest letters because they did not meet their undefined criteria. For example, they required an inked signature when electronic signatures are legal signatures in the United States. They required a written service address and would not accept letters with the service account number. Here they published for the world to see the letters they refused to accept (http://cvwd.com/uploads/files/agendas_packets/2019/june/protltrs_NonConf_june10_sm.pdf) and here are the accepted ones (http://cvwd.com/uploads/files/agendas_packets/2019/june/06112019rmpp2.pdf).

4. We want a new Cost of Service analysis that justifies a rate increase – the last one is from 2016 and is no longer accurate. There are many people who feel that their bills subsidize other users. People who use a lot feel they are paying for the service for people who use a little and vice versa. People in the lower altitude part of the district feel they are subsidizing people at higher altitudes that require additional pumping and extra water treatment. A new COS would should put these issues to rest.

5. We want a proper Prop 218 notice sent to customers – one that explains who the notice is for and how someone can protest the letter. We also want to see how the increased rates will be used.

6. We want a form on the website that allows people to easily submit protest letters.

7. We want a better breakdown of the increase costs to homeowners. Choosing to use the average of 17 units doesn’t show the increase for people who use a lot or a little water. Where does the 17 average come from? What is the median usage? Does that include vacation properties that use zero? Does that include apartment blocks that use 50?

Before the June 11 meeting, I was asked to join a new Community Budget Advisory Committee that met on the June 5. I went to the meeting and I assumed they would announce this at the June 11 community meeting. They did not. The CBAC is a group of four or five ratepayers who are given a chance to go over the budget and ask questions quarterly. We asked questions and they gave answers. The meeting was only an hour so we didn’t have time to cover much. Forming that committee, it feels like parts of CVWD are operating in good faith. But, their treatment of the Prop 218 issues listed above and their disjointed handling of the protest letter submissions sure make it seem some are operating on bad faith. I honestly don’t think there would be 4200-plus protest letters even if they made it a one-click protest vote. People just don’t pay that much attention to water bill inserts or to NextDoor posts for that matter (lol). But if they did make it easy and the issue passed then they would have a much stronger case for community support.

Burt Culver