Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Staff Report For Tuesday's Special City Council Meeting On Mandatory Water Use Restrictions Is Now Available On Line

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The City's agenda report for Tuesday evening's "Special City Council Meeting on Mandatory Water Restrictions" is now available on-line. You can access this rather vast 103 page staff prepared document by clicking here. I'll warn you though, much of it is cut and pasted boilerplate taken from City documents that have been available before. That said, there are also some things you can find there that seem to contradict information given out by the City not so very long ago. The one thing we have been focusing on here in particular is the proclaimed city-wide water use increase percentage. Here is how it is introduced into the City's report:

Increased consumption - Water consumption is currently up over 50% from the same period last year (April 2012 versus April 2013). There has not been a population increase in Sierra Madre.

On an intuitive level this seems fairly hard to accept. Sierra Madre is by and large a community of middle-aged and retired homeowners, people who are not given to sudden radical behavioral swings. Particularly in an en masse and spontaneous lemmings gone wild sort of way. A 50% increase in anything from so staid and respectable a community as ours just doesn't seem very likely to me.

And correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't it not too long ago that City Hall was informing us that water revenues were down because the people of Sierra Madre had embraced water conservation maybe a little too enthusiastically? You remember that one, right? The claimed result being that because of this the City's water billing was down considerably, making our Water Department a financial victim of our virtue and concern. So how could water consumption be up 50% now?

I hope we're not looking at another one of City Hall's infamous and all too convenient midstream message adjustments. The claim that our current water crisis might actually be the fault of irresponsible resident behavior when something quite different might be in play would not only be unfortunate, but also a public relations tactic that we have seen before. Blaming the victim sadly being not as unusual here as many in town might think.

Any insight that you the reader can share on this matter will be appreciated. The research team is looking long and hard into this one, and if they come up with anything good we'll post it on either Monday or Tuesday. Along with any insights that you might want to offer.

Last Tuesday Evening's Best Speech?

(Mod: Apparently the outpouring of public unhappiness over mandatory water restrictions and fines at last Tuesday's City Council meeting had so profound an effect on our elected officials that we're going to do it all over again next Tuesday. One of the better speeches of that evening was given by Charles Hunter. I have been given a copy of his talk and I am adding it below.)

"I'm here to express my concern about the recently adopted Mandatory Water Rationing resolution. Something that was done rather hastily with minimum public awareness and input. This conservation plan is, in my opinion, very inequitable and discriminatory in application.

First there is the matter of choosing to average a customer's annual use for a base year and then imposing a target of 20% less than that average for all water billing periods beginning with the current period - instead of looking at the individual billing period's usage and setting a target of reduction from that level.

What this means is that single-family homeowners who are likely to have summer spikes for water usage because of their landscaping wind up with an unreasonable target as determined by your resolution. Thus making it likely they will be fined once we get into the hottest months of the year, a time that requires more water usage to avoid losing their investment in landscaping.

The vast majority of business users will not face such situations since they tend to use fairly consistent amounts of water from one billing cycle to the next. Thus there is discrimination in favor of businesses.

Most apartments do not have as much of their property dedicated to landscaping as a single family homeowner and will also be less likely to encounter fines for water usage in the coming months. To that we can also add condominium developments that, even if they have large landscaped areas, can share the cost of any fines amongst the many owners.

This is a case of discrimination primarily against single-family homeowners.

Next you chose not to unite the community in a common goal of conserving water, but instead divided it into three different categories of users subject to different treatment and requirements.

First you have created a group who are asked to make no effort to conserve any amount of water by totally exempting them from any usage target.

Secondly you have created a group who are told to reduce their usage by 10% from their average.

Finally you have placed the main burden for conservation on a 3rd group - some of whom are the most likely to face impossible to meet targets and fines or lose their landscaping. Those being the single family homeowners that i mentioned earlier.

I urge you to amend this Water Conservation Resolution so that it is more equitable and involves the participation of the entire community in the effort to conserve water."

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

72 comments:

  1. Staff cherry picked the 4/12 to 4/13 comparison for the 50% figure. In 4/12 los Angeles had 1.71 inches of rain - twice the average for April. This year we had 0. That's right, 0. I wonder if that explains the increase?

    This is why only fools rely on one data point to make policy. The council needs to ask for five years of monthly usage figures to see what the real trend is. And perhaps it needs to stop taking staff reports at face value. Better yet, hire new staff.


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    1. The water crises will magically be over when the new water rates go into effect.
      Just like last time when the pipes magically stopped bursting all over the city.

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    2. True. This is really about bringing in more money until the new water rate increases kick in this winter.

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    3. Pipes are still bursting all over the city

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    4. The Water Dept has to pay a million dollars a year to cover its bond debt obligations. The reason the pipes don't get fixed is because they're up to their eyebrows in debt.

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  2. Sierra Madre has one of two things going on with it's water accountability program administered by City Hall.

    1.) you have serious water leaks in your receiving and or delivery system of pipes?

    2.) Poor metering recording system for water received and delivered.

    3.) No one can add or subtract in the water department?

    4.) Sierra Madre is paying for water it doesn't receive at all?

    5.) Someone is robbing you blind?

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  3. The reason for the 50% increase number is just as it says here. To establish that the fault lies with the childlike and careless residents and not the city. The city is never wrong and is only instituting fines because you people have forced it to. Every naughty dog needs a whack on the snout with a rolled up newspaper once in a while.

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  4. Time To Walk The BlocksJune 15, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    The week end is the best time to get signatures asking for a moratorium on all construction. Why should some of us be fined even when cutting down on use and others are given building permits that will consume thousands of gallons more. There is a fly in the ointment from city hall and a moratorium will get it out. Get your signatures ASAP demanding a moratorium.

    MORATORIUM MORATORIUM MORATORIUM MORATORIUM MORATORIUM

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    1. A couple of recall petitions would be good as well.

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    2. And all you would need are one hundred committed petition foot soldiers. Let me know when you've got that organized.

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    3. But wouldn't a moratorium affect the building of the middle school?

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    4. Oh dear God, he's back.

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    5. Yes I am! I don't want anything to get in the way of building the school. A building moratorium just might.

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    6. We took a poll. The consensus is we want you to blow up.

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    7. A complete moratorium is not going to happen. Lobby for a specific moratorium, a moratorium on new water meter connections, and you have something possible.
      Also, then the middle school can be built - those meters are in place.

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    8. No existing meter, no building.
      It'll work.

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    9. Holding the school hostage so you can build and flip mansions and condos? Interesting move. "Oh no! I'm afraid a moratorium just might get in the way of our new school!" Nice try. But here's the thing--- the 'official documents' state that an increase in population makes water usage go up.

      So first of all, we obviously will impose a moratorium on any and all new housing construction. Because that would, you know, increase the population. I'm sure that's the responsible and sensible path that city government will take: no new housing construction. It's a no-brainer.

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    10. Somehow city staff claims that water usage has increased 50% this year with no increase in population. Maybe they have been taking too many trips to the wine tasting room?

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  5. Several other cities have tried the "blame game" on the residents, but after further investigation it was concluded the fault lied entirely with City Hall and it's OWN water usage program, not the residents at all.

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  6. It's not the crime, it's the cover-up.

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  7. And you thought "prism" was a bad snooping system?

    Look what you have to do to be about to read a "public document on Sierra Madrea's" city web page. This is worse than the darn Communist Chinese!

    You must be logged in to access the requested page

    Registered Users - Enter User ID and Password, click Registered Users Login button to search for documents.

    Public Users

    Registered User ID

    Password

    Forgot your password?

    Public access is being restricted and they are keeping a running log of who access this public information.

    I SMELL ANOTHER LAWSUIT COMING DOWN THE SEWER PIPE ON THIS STUNT BEING PULLED BY CITY HALL.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the city website is clumsy and badly designed - obviously by someone who is not really proficient at computer programming.
      However, you don't have to sign in. Here are the steps:

      From the home page, click on Current City Documents
      Enter the start date and end date on the calendars provided
      Choose the relevant commission or committee from the box to the right of the calendar, and press enter.
      If the documents are there, the link will display on the lower left, and click on it.

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    2. You can also get to a document from the calendar on the home page. Click on the date. Not as complete a method or menu as 9:13 describes, but it'll get you to the basics. No signing in required.

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    3. I clicked on the link and it went right to the staff report.

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    4. 9:42, I think the comments above are referring to when you go on the city site to search, not when the Tattler so kindly provides the link.

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    5. I access the city documents all the time. I have also guided people through the process.
      No log in is required.
      Go to recent city documents
      Type in the dates--use the pull down calendar
      Choose the logical department
      Hit search.
      Not log in requied

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  8. Please post the date, time and location of this special water issue meeting for Sierra Madre, California

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    Replies
    1. Upper right hand corner of this page. You almost can't miss it.

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    2. One stop shopping keeps the interested parties in step.

      Special City Council Meeting Regarding Mandatory Water Conservation on June 18, 2013

      The meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 18th at 6:00 pm in the City Hall Council Chambers at 232 W. Sierra Madre Boulevard.

      The meeting is open to the public and the Council encourages interested individuals to attend the meeting.

      On May 28th, mandatory water conservation measures were implemented due to the declining supply of water in the underground aquifer that supplies 90 to 95% of Sierra Madre’s water.

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  9. Mr. Hunter's speech is indeed excellent, but remember to add to it the extreme fire and flood danger increases we will face if people who live at the boundary between the hillsides and town are forced to kill the vegetation that acts as a buffer.

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  10. 50% increase - how much of the drinking water went to the irrigation systems at Stonehouse and Carter? How much went to the construction sites on the Blvd, Dr. Sami's and the Subway building? How much went to dust control on the new condos on the Blvd.?

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    1. This came up at a recent City Council meeting. Chris Koerber, who seemed to have some doubts about the 50% increase himself, asked the City Manager how this could be. She replied that they haven't been able to figure it out. How can water usage go up 50% and the city can't figure it out? Don't they read water meters?

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    2. They've got their figures wrong.
      Or there's a massive leak somewhere, or 20 new medium sized ones, because all the water department revenue goes to pay interest on Bart's Folly.

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    3. Our month before last water bill was exactly double the same time period from the previous year. The only change in our household is that we have been out of town at least 25% of the time since October 2012. No lawn, no dishwasher, no driveway to wash, no leaks, nada! We've asked twice for an explanation and so far received none. We think it's a meter reading issue.

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    4. The city council majority doesn't want to talk about the $19 mill in water bond debt because to do so would embarrass some of their closest allies. So they spend all their time making up crap like this.

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    5. 9:50 - she knew. But it would have been "off message" for her to say so.

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    6. Don't forget all the work that is going on at Alverno....

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    7. One billing period a received a 0 usage.
      The next billing period the wanted to charge me 4 months at the highest tier.

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  11. Nancy Walsh has a plan to solve the water problem. She is going to demand that all of the people she doesn't like move out of town or face big fines. That would leave around 12% of the city.

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    1. That 12% figure seems high...

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    2. we have 3 mental lightweights on the Council deciding our future?

      we are so screwed by incompetence

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    3. The city is facing one of the biggest crisis in its history and we are being led by Nancy Walsh. Think about it.

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    4. If it's any solace, I really don't think the people you see on the dais are the people running things and deciding things. Other folks are in charge of this puppet show.

      We've already met the Water-Master. There has to be a Puppet-Master, too. And it's certainly not Mayor Nancy-Pants.

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    5. Her other plan is to spend a bunch of our money to xeriscape the front of City Hall.

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    6. A lot of the development misery inflicted on Sierta Madre and cities like us is out of Sacremento. The lobbies than own those crooks got the laws they paid for.

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    7. Sure, there are a lot of bad guys in 'Sacramento'. But that's a big city a long way from here. Let's clean up our town first. Sierra Madre is getting robbed by small time thugs with water pistols. We don't have to look too far for these particular crooks.

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    8. Some are on our local TV station on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.

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  12. Is Tuesday's meeting going to be televised?

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. Spoke with a neighbor about this 50% increase of usage and it is a real puzzle. They had a 0 units (meter reading snafu) bill April 2012 (which under allots for their target year) and then 10 unit reading for April 2013. So what % Increase is that?

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  15. And you know what SNAFU means. Definitely the situation here.

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  16. We maybe screwed on this Moratorium call for 1 Carter. There are meters there now for the landscape watering, many with overdue bill notices fading in the sun for the last two months, unpaid amounts of roughly $130.00 or so.

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    1. Those bills need to be paid before the Planning Commission reviews any of the plans for houses there.

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    2. Too bad the meters are in place. So what can be done to prevent the 5 and a half bathroom boondoggles?

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    3. The Planning Commission shot down three of the ugly brutes just the other week. It was a glorious sight, too.

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    4. I saw that playback last night, close to midnight. Thanks to the people who spoke, make me proud to live here.

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  17. the Mayor, Council majority and city hall can't have it both ways

    they can't tell us to conserve water

    meanwhile pushing forward with new development

    as far as I am concerned, this is just another scam by the city

    they've lied since day one about water so I assume they are lying now

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  18. what fines etc are being enforced with the schools?

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    1. No fines have been levied yet.

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    2. Schools are exempt from water rationing, to a point but not has severe as residents will experience in the coming days and weeks ahead.

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    3. Middle school landscaping will be out of the question.

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  19. If there are meters there now, then meters won't be the sole criteria for the moratorium. Very simple. No new housing. Because of the serious water shortage, increasing the city's population endangers the town's health, safety, and well-being. And if the City Manager and Council allow that, then we've got Trouble right here in River City.

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  20. Another thing to consider: the meters there now are doing a minimum of watering for minimum landscaping, almost none to speak of. You can bet 5 1/2 baths, flushing and bathing/cleaning up and water for cooking/washing in the kitchen and laundry is going to be considerable consumption.

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    1. Each Modern Family McMansion (MFMM) will require its very own MWD hookup.

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    2. No new KIds

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  21. Did anybody take a look at the staff report (click here in the first paragraph above) ? Slow Saturday here, so I plowed through to the 411 on the H2O or somewhere along there and this jumped out at me:

    Question? What is the City doing to conserve water?

    ".....Just like our customers, the City will also have a conservation target and will pay penalties if consumption is exceeded."

    And the funds from which this penalty will be paid comes from where?

    The taxpayers, from your pocket and mine.

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    Replies
    1. Nice catch 2:53. That is humorous.
      And maddening.

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    2. I guess city staff thinks it is their money. Even though most of them do not live in Sierra Madre and therefore pay almost nothing in taxes here. The entitlement does leak through once in a while.

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