Thursday, May 20, 2010

How To Stop The Water Rate Increase Scam

This is how it can be done. Copy and paste the letter Don Watts has provided below, along with the attached reply form, and e-mail it to everybody you know. Then tell your friends to e-mail it to everyone that they know. Make sure it is understood that unless they fill out this form and send it in, they are going to get hit with a whopping 16% increase on their water bill. And soon.

Under Prop 218 we have the right to put a stop to wholesale rate increase scams such as the one currently being run on this town. But it will mean that 51% of the water rate payers in Sierra Madre will need to fill out Don's form and mail it in. A tall order for certain. Yet none of us should ever forget, we have some hard won Constitutionally guaranteed rights here in California. And among them is the right to review and reject de facto tax increases such as this one. Let's do it.

171 Adams Street

Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024


Don Watts A.I.A.



To: My neighbors

From: Don Watts


Date: May 19, 2010

Re: Your water rate increase

Dear Neighbor,

Under Prop 218 , the City is required to have your approval of a 16% rate increase. If you don’t respond , your non-response means you approve this rate hike.

I personally don’t approve of this rate increase because the added funds can be used to pay for new infrastructure development. This is simply welfare for developers. If they build they should be paying for their own increased capacity needs, separate from the existing residences

Your current water rate payments now are meant to pay for the overhead necessary to keep your water system working, not to expand development that will mean greater demand and possible water rationing. Water is becoming a scarce commodity, but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse to raise rates.

Take 15 minutes and send or give the City Clerk your no vote, otherwise your non response is a yes vote.

Attached is a note you can use to mail and pass on. Time is of the essence.


Don Watts

City Clerk City of Sierra Madre

232 West Sierra Madre Blvd.
Sierra Madre, CA 91024
Dear Sierra Madre City Council, City Manager, Director of Public Works, and City Clerk,

I protest the proposed water rate increase charges for 2010 to 2015.


Street Address:_______________________
Sierra Madre, CA 91024


  1. Don Watts and Sir Eric Thank you again. I copied this and now will walk my neighborhood and go door to door to the same folks who we canvassaed to get out the vote. I am sure in this economy no one can afford to pay for higher water rates. But, no one understands the beauracacy of government either.

    Again thank you for your explanation and convenient letter.

  2. Done! The new City Council has only been around for a month and already we're seeing the effects.

    Hey Sierra Madre! Is it a mistake yet?

  3. Printed and signed...sending it in...

  4. DON WATTS!!!!!!

    Anyone miss him yet?

    Thanks Don.

  5. Done, sent, and e-mailed to everyone I know.


  6. ex- city councilman Don WattsMay 20, 2010 at 8:03 AM

    I am a firm believer in participatory democracy, it's important to remember, we the people run the government, not the other way around. Prop 218 was cleverly written to take advantage of the apathy and the natural belief that the government works in our best interests.
    The rate increase may or may not be a necessity, but, I don't like the manner in which it is being done.
    To me it is wrong to make a "no-response", a yes vote for the increase.
    Seeing that a good percentage of the public does not vote, this is a great tactic to impose a fee hike.
    Perhaps the new city council should consider this worthy of putting it on a public ballot.
    I am appealing to the residents to pay attention to what goes on locally. Otherwise, you opt to allow government to work in it's own self interest, which is not always in your best interest.

  7. Don is 100% right, of course. John and Joe's greatest ally in Sierra Madre is ignorance and apathy. They're counting on it to help sell big time development as preservation. Something that is going to take a storm of fibbing on their part to do. This is the first test.

  8. I'll admit it! I'm not good at add and take away. But if someone else can calculate 16% of a typical H20 bill over five years and let us know what the real percentage increase is I'd be very grateful!

  9. let's see if I can figure this out

    we don't elect Don Watts but Josh Moran is elected?

    no, I can't figure it out

    how much you wanna bet that realtor Josh will believe that the rate increase is a solid idea? so him and mommy can sell some condos.

  10. It's not just a 16% increase but another 3.5% or so increase each year for another four years. e.g. Tier 1 goes from $1.79 to $2.072 in 2010-2011 to $2.380 in yr 2013-2014. That's a 40% rate increase over 5 years.

  11. I'm sorry, but for anyone who was paying attention this should not be any kind of
    a surprise. You're not going to be able
    to bring in large scale development in
    Sierra Madre without first building up
    our water infrastructure. This is a very
    logical first step for the phony slow
    growthers on the city council.

  12. So this water rate increase came from the city council right? The newly elected "slow growthers" or the prior city council? If it's indeed the new bunch then I think we're only seeing the beginning of what's to come.
    A huge Thank You to Sir Eric and Mr. Don Watts, I just sent in my form.

  13. 40% Rate increase over 5 years? Is everyone writing out their protest and getting it in the mail today?

    Will we see this outrage in,, or the I bet not!

    40%. Forty percent. 40 Percent. Anyway you write it, it's still 40%. An outrage. Sierra Madre thinks you are asleep at the wheel.

    Let them know you are watching their every move.

    Thank you, Anonymous.

  14. I suspect the Looney Views News will be suitably outraged that anyone would dare to speak up in opposition to the water rate hike. It is uncivil in the extreme to in any way question the rulings of the Joe Mosca City Council. Blind obedience is the only suitable response to their demands. Just reach into your pocket, shell out, and shut up. Otherwise you'll get slimed.

  15. Don Watts....

    It is interesting to note that Prop 218 mandates a tougher set of requirements for passing new taxes/fees. Typically an affirmative vote, or balloting, is required to pass new taxes. However, the water increases seem exempt from this process and only have to follow the previous requirement of a "majority protest". There have been several significant cases in California related to the water issue and I assume this is the result.
    Kudos to you, and everyone else here, for making the effort to get your voices heard on this issue.......make sure both owners of a property send in their opposition, otherwise I suspect the City will say the vote only counts as 1/2 a vote.

  16. And to all of your landlords out there... make sure you respond for each address with both owners of a property! It's your right to protest a rate increase!

  17. I have mailed my protest, signed by my wife and myself. I have also copied Don Wats letter, blank form as well as his post on todays blog. They will be hand delivered to the 21 homes on our block today.

  18. People I have spoken with today had no idea about being able to stake this thing. They did not get that impression from the letter from the City, and are not happy they were not properly told. I think the City needs to send out a clarification that spells out more clearly that the residents have the power to make this mess go away if they send in their objections.

    Should we pool some cash and send out our own letter?

  19. Damn!
    It's that same old ploy - I'm going to take what I want, do what I want, because I know best, and if you protest, you are not civil.
    It's narcissism run amuck.

  20. Mr. Watts, many thanks for your continued help.

  21. This is the kind of information we need to make public:
    "Your current water rate payments now are meant to pay for the overhead necessary to keep your water system working, not to expand development"
    so sign me up Tattler for throwing in some bucks to send out a mailing.

  22. Time to pass the hat. We need
    to let people know what is really
    going on here. Slow growth city
    council my donkey.

  23. Somebody posted before that we need to get how the city is going to tabulate the responses. More transparency problems?

  24. residents' Research Team participantMay 20, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    Editor, where do I send my check?

  25. I think there is a much better chance to stop this unecessary rate hike than there was to elect the truthful council members. It's hard to get voters' attention when it's about politicians, not so hard when it's about voters' money.

  26. 12:16 - the responses go to Nancy S. You
    know she'll get the right tabulation.

  27. hey 11:44 when you hand out copies of the info and letter, make sure you put copies at the houses that had Mosca, Moran and Waslh signs.

  28. walking the neighborhoodMay 20, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Absolutely 12:42. Just because somebody didn't get the right info about some of the candidates doesn't mean they won't get it about the water rate hike.

  29. channel 3 watcherMay 20, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Thank you very much for reporting on this. I found Mr. Inman's presentation somewhat confusing, while the expert seemed to be selling something. I doubted the expert had a clear understanding of Sierra Madre.

  30. Are there any rules & regs against putting 10 or 20 copies of the letter & response form in gathering places around town, like the post office? Mary's Market?

  31. Anonymous Y @9:56

    AND don't forget the UUT (tax) is added to that 40%. Also there are different rates depending on the size meter that ones has! Is that the reason City Hall has been installing new meters?

  32. I too found Mr. Inman's presentation confusing. When clarification was needed, M.M. cleared the air by stating "so you want the MOST revenue from the MOST people?"

  33. I like the point about this rate increase being compunded by the already existing UUT one.

    So what if the UUT goes up to 12%? Wouldn't that be double jeopardy?

  34. 2:12 PM,
    How does one determine what size meter one has? Where does one find that information?

  35. Water meter sizes are printed on the face of the meter. Pull up the concrete cover, clean off the face of the dial, and it should say clearly if it's a 5/8 or 3/4 meter, which is the vast majority of older connections. If there's been an upgrade in service due to house addition/pool/sauna etc. then there may be a 1 inch connection, but that's still rare.

    Also, the meter size should be listed on the top of your water bill near your address.

    I had to demand that Cal Am come out to my house and put back the 5/8 meter they surreptitiously took off of my original line and replaced with a 1" meter in order to raise the fees. City Hall never did a damn thing about it.

  36. During some of the bad old days, the Carter hearings, Measure F, the DSP, the city manager Gilison put out a FAQ sheet to answer all the questions residents were asking, from the city's perspective.
    It would be good to get one on the water hike, because I agree with the previous posters that the public works presentation was muddled.

  37. Sometimes things are muddled because people don't know what they're talking about. And sometimes they are muddled because people do. Being a one time true believer who was turned into a skeptic by the govt and crooked pols of Sierra Madre, I definitely suspect the latter.

  38. Thanks for the schooling 2:42. I will check it this evening after work.

  39. I hear ya, your neighbor. And sometimes it's a combination - somebody knows, somebody doesn't, and the dog 'n pony shows go on. Seems like some of the Tattler posters have more information, and can set it out straight.

  40. The several hundred Tattlers cannot by themselves overturn this rate increase! Talk to your friends and neighbors! Print copies of Don Watt's letter and hand it out!

    Go to the podium on Tuesday nights from now until July 13th. We're talking 40% increase on top of the UUT!

  41. Go to:

    click on documents & forms

    Proposed Water Rates, Guidelines for the Submission & Tabulation of Protests

    This document gives conflicting instructions for delivery of protests to the City Clerk.

    Read it immediately!

  42. 4:09, thanks for the heads up.
    But the form letter with this article is good. What has to be there is a signature of the parcel owner, and address (or assessor's number if you're so inclined - address is easier.)
    One protest per parcel.
    What do you see as so different?

  43. Sounds like the "water meter size" is a can of worms!!! Couldn't find it on my last bill. Would it not be legal to continue to charge on the smallest size meter until 100% of the meters had been changed, and charge equally (not on the size of the meters) This is a real SCAM.

  44. We will need 1940 signatures(50%+1) on Don's letter.
    Only one per water customer.

    We'll need to work hard, get the word out.
    Possibly set up tables downtown where people can get the form letter.

    They will need to be turned in to Nancy Shollenberger. She may be the only one we can trust besides MaryAnn MacGillivray at City Hall.

    Most people will want to sign, because NO ONE will fancy paying for the Stonehouse and One Carter development.

    Let's do it, Sierra Madre. Make up for the terrible mistake of not electing Don Watts, John Crawford and Pat Alcorn. You have three of the worst people possible who will not be representing your interests.

    You people who voted for these three, will be very, very sorry, when the awful truth begins to surface.

  45. Well, 5:33, if you open the doc you would immediately see that it requires an assessors' parcel number and states that it must be delivered (not mailed) to the City Clerk at City Hall or given to the City Clerk at the hearing on July 13th.

    Call Bruce Inman on Monday and ask for clarification. Call Elaine Aguilar on Monday and ask for clarification.

    Go to the City site, click on contact the city and send an e-mail to Aguilar with copies to Inman, Mosca, Buchanan, Moran, Walsh, MacGillivray, and Sandy Levin. The reason you copy them all is that your letter then becomes a matter of public records.

    Demand to know which document prevails. It's our money and they're trying to set it up so we lose no matter what we do! Resist!

  46. 6:40, the document on line with the City detailing how to protest says that all property owners (husband + wife) must sign the letter! Residents! Read the letter the City sent this week and go on line and read the document the City has said is the only way to protest! If we don't do it right they'll through out the protests!

  47. 5;54 nobody is changing the size of the meters,

  48. 6:59, it says assessor's number OR street address. It's ok.

  49. Clarification - "by delivery" to the office - so that includes mail delivery?
    The postmark reference is in case of getting them in under the wire?

  50. Silence means Yes. Don't you love it? What next?

  51. That is pretty much what the dirts count on. An aware, active public being their worst enemy. Shut up and pay is their message.

  52. Height of cynicism. Smart though.

  53. The water hike protest does not need a parcel number just the address of where the water bill is being delivered to and who pays that bill. The city website is wrong and look up Proposition 218, it states how the majority protest must be written. Boy what an out right lie by the public works department and the City.

  54. Delver your protest directly to the City Clerk and your protest will be counted. don't walk them up to the city counter....

  55. Perhaps if people make up signs directed to our new leadership at the July 4th parade, to not vote for the increase, and let people know they must send in a "NO" response to stop the tax increase.
    A non-response APPROVES the tax hike.