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Water Rate Inequity for Multi-Family Residences

From: domainremoved <Dave>
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2015 20:46:25 -0700

Members of the City Council,

I’m a resident home owner at Sharon Glen; a community of 57 property
owners, where water is provided by a single, legacy, community meter.

Prop 218 defines charges for domestic water consumption as on-going,
property-related fees which are an incident of property ownership.

AB2882 states that such revenue cannot exceed the cost to provide that
service and that conservation fees shall not exceed the proportional costs.

Menlo Park’s water rates are blind to the number of households served by
each meter. Sharon Glen’s metered 5 CCF basic allocation provides only 2
gallons per day per home with over 95% of consumption priced at Tier-4.
That conservation fee is thus punitive considering Sharon Glen household
consumption is only half the California average.

Menlo Park’s Rate Studies Failed-to-Disclose the substantial financial
impact of single-meter billing on MFRs; effectively obscuring these
over-charges from Sharon Glen’s view. Yet, the 2015 Study admits that
Prop 218 requires revenue-neutral basic domestic water and further states:

"The current [rate] breakpoints do not have a strong correlation to the
multi-family, ... classes, given that the consumption patterns ... vary
widely. Because the tiers are set in line with the water usage of a
typical single family home, the tiers are less relevant (and arguably
less equitable) to a user that consumes large quantities of water." [pg33]

In 2014, I spoke with Revenue Coordinator Mr. McGirr and Assistant
Director Mr. Nino of the Public Works Department. Both officials 1)
admitted prior awareness of this inequity, 2) stated it was not an
oversight and 3) dismissed the issue outright claiming they’d followed
Prop 218. They would not acknowledge AB2882.

On February 24, 2015 a presentation and written request for remediation,
was provided to the Council. The Council has not responded and Director
of Public Works, Mr.Quirion, gave the same dismissal as his colleagues.

On July 21, the Council passed new 2-Tier rates but admitted, by
objection, that single-meter billing for MFRs is inequitable.

While over-simplified billing requires less thought to administer, the
resulting inequity violates California state law. There are no
exceptions for simplicity.

Fortunately, a zero administrative cost solution is easy; simply
multiply per-meter, consumption allocations by the number of households
served.

The Council is now clearly aware of this violation and so has an
opportunity to bring Menlo Park back into compliance with state law
through 1) remediation of the last 5 year’s over-charges and 2) through
one simple change for all future billing.

Since July 2010, Sharon Glen has suffered financial damages in excess of
80% of lawful water consumption fees and remediation is past due. I urge
the City to address this issue in a timely manner.
Received on Tue Aug 25 2015 - 20:45:08 PDT

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