Sunday, January 25, 2015

The EENERs Recommend That Water Use Penalties Kick In Now - And At Exponentially Higher Rates

EENER meeny miny moe, catch a townie by the toe
The wrath of the EENERs is apparently now upon us all. What you might have ever done to deserve such a fate is beyond me, but there it is.

Penalties for using more water than deemed appropriate were suspended by the City Council a few months back. These punishments had been established, but then were never activated. They were just there. However, the CC also tasked the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Commission (or EENRC, an unfortunate acronym then Councilcritter Nancy Walsh had swiped from those colorful cut-ups at "The COG"), to deliberate upon the punitory propensities of all this and return with some informed recommendations to the Council.

Well, long story short, it would appear that the EENERs want to crack you upside your water using head a whole lot harder than even the City Council dared suggest when all of this was first coming together. With penalty payment rates that are exponentially higher than before. And they want to start doing it right about now.

As you might know, my feelings for the EENER Commission have never been warm. My take on this rhythm has always been that when then Mayor John Buchanan first imposed the idea in the form of the Green Committee, his intentions were not exactly pure. His true purpose being that if you want to impose something on the townies that is extremely unpopular, you get a Green Committee type resident body to make the recommendation first.

Then, when whatever the unloved initiative might be does get brought up at a City Council meeting, all the elected would then have the luxury of saying this is being done at the request of the Green Committee. All of which conveniently gives a Mayor or Councilmembers the ability to deny that "this difficult decision" was ever their idea. Especially when it really was.

Today, of course, we have the EENERs, and apparently they are rather mad at you over your biological dependence on water. And should their recommendations actually go through Tuesday evening, you could get the holy hopping bejeezus fined out of you for not substantially curbing your use of it.

Here is the section of the relevant Staff Report containing this unhappy news:


There you go. Instead of the original 2 to 3 times penalty rate, you would now be dunned at a 2 to 10 times rate instead. How sweet of them. And it is not like this is a water rate increase requiring a Prop 218 "process" or anything, right? You know that? Good, then will you please tell me why it isn't?

Because that is what it looks like to me.

So what if you decide to appeal all of this crazy stuff? Fight back, as it were. Then you'd better have your "water audit done by water conservation-certified staff" in place first.


There's a visit you could live without.

Like I said, if you are a Mayor or City Council person who wants to get some unpopular piece of legislation in place, especially one that involves the taking of even more money, it is best to first find residents who will make that recommendation for you.

That's why they call them EENERs, I guess.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

74 comments:

  1. I see no problem with this, we are in a drought, measures need to be taken,

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    1. You see no problem with what?

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  2. Who are these nudniks?

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  3. Didn't Bruce Inman say water use in town is way down?

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    1. He also said he's had to contact something like 500 home owners, repeatedly, to tell them the basics, like don't water your lawn for an hour in the middle of the day every day. Apparently there are some residents who think the conservation doesn't apply to them.

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  4. Here are two response action plans, the first is from Placerville where drought is significant and the PDF explains ways to save water. The point is there are efforts made for drought relief with out fleecing the residents. In Porterville, where you are not allowed running water unless, have a chronic illness, or have children. That places many people with no running water, and violations there are only $500.
    http://www.cityofplacerville.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=8368
    http://www.ci.porterville.ca.us/depts/PublicWorks/waterconservation.cfm
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syl77809_ds

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    1. I guess it would be hard to fine people for water use if they have no running water. I mean, how would you use it? But what if you want to take a shower?

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  5. Water use is down throughout Ca despite the lack of monetary fines. This is about power, control and money.

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    1. Benefits and pensions for all! Except townies.

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    2. Did you forget the possibility of a $500 per day fine for that was included in the state mandated water restrictions that every water agency has adopted last year?

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    3. All the better to keep that water conservation-certified stiff out of your house.

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  6. are we out of yellow water too? is the Mosca pipe broken?

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    1. Joe is out of town. We can ask him when he gets back.

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  7. The real fines here should be on past councils. For many years the problem was known and nothing was done. There are still people alive in Sierra Madre who know the real truth on the lack of action to insure us of not running out of water. One Carter comes to mind also, how much has our water supply been affected by scraping the land bare? We citizens are suffering the results of past city councils only looking at how they can collect more money, not what our long term needs would be. I say we are in this mess because of the likes of the Bart Doyle's, John Buchanan's and the Nancy Walsh's of past councils. Its people like these that should be investigated and held accountable for what's going on. If I were younger I would form a group to dig up the real reason we never spent the money to prevent this situation. John Capoccia was practically yelling when he said we cant fix anything by bringing up and looking into the past. I say if the past was understood then we would not be doomed to repeat it again. If city councils and city staff knew they would be held accountable they would be working for the people not the money grabbers who are willing to pay big fees to scrape the land and history clean to make money on a Mac Mansion type building. John Capoccia doe's not understand this town and what has been forced on it's residents, he would rather sweep the facts under the carpet.

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    1. John Capoccia ran as an anti-tax candidate who, once elected, supported ever tax, rate and fee hike city staff put in front of him. Of course he doesn't want people to look into the past. That is where his failure to keep his promise to the voters is to be found.

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    2. Let's remember his weasel words from his campaign: "We do not need a UUT increase NOW.". I guess things are now different or Capoccia said whatever it took to get himself elected.

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    3. Absolutely great summation 7:48. But don't forget to single out Bruce Inman, the man who was in charge.

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    4. I get it that people will not forgive/forget Capoccia on his tax reversal, and on his turning into such a fan of Aguilar, but I don't think he's the jerk you say he is. He's been on the good side of every development issue that we've been facing this year.

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    5. Development is an important issue. It is also not the only one.

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  8. Why should Sierra Madre residents be fined more than other cities? You look at surrounding cities with their lush green yards and you wouldn't know we were in a drought. Why should we be fined for not being as compliant as city hall thinks we should be when other cities don't appear to be doing any conserving? If the city proceeds with such action I know a lawyer who will be glad to file a class action lawsuit in our behalf.

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  9. My guess is the eeners did what they were asked to do by city staff. Nobody imposes fines this big on their fellow Sierra Madreans all by themselves, do they?

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  10. Who is on the commission, and who do they think they are?

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    1. I know some of them, and they are concerned residents who were instructed to do this. Crawford's got it right - they are a fire wall.

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    2. More fund raising by city hall. It never stops, does it.

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    3. 9:06 do your homework their names and all commissioner"s names are listed better than that go to one of their meetings

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    4. Here's the link to the commission, but I don't think it's current. I heard that the expert on experts Alva isn't on it anymore.
      http://www.cityofsierramadre.com/commissions-boards-committees/579-energy-environment-natural-resources-commission-members

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  11. The Water Nazis are at your Door!
    This Elaine Aguilar inspired intrusion into our lives reminds me of Communist East Europe not freedom loving America. Political officials a.k.a. Water Dept. Auditors will come to your home. They will inspect it both inside and out. They will give you a budget. You WILL comply with their 'recommendations' otherwise you will be fined and your appeal will be rejected.
    Even in the darkest days of extreme rationing during World War 2 in Europe no family was subjected to such authoritarian intrusion. Despite the mayhem of war, common sense prevailed. Rationing was per person. Not per household, not based on what you used to eat/have. These (well intentioned?) totalitarian fools demand you open your home for their scrutiny for water use( and what else will they take note of?) .They will arbitrarily decide what your water allowance is. This is insane, odious ,malevolent and a frightening insight to the minds of City Officials who would dictate every menial detail of toilet flushing if we give them this opening.
    Next they will be offering us a ride to a place where "Work makes you Free" ?
    I suggest this needs to be strenuously opposed - but you probably came to the same conclusion?

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

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    2. I agree with 10:09...well said.

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    3. Some people really do like the f-bomb thing.

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  12. I am on a commission and we do not March to staff's orders or anyone else's.

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  13. It is clear that none of you attended the meeting in which this issue was discussed. It is also clear that few have read the documents that precipitated that discussion. The 500 $/day fine included in the State Water Resources Control Board has been adopted by every water agency in the state. In addition, some of those agencies have adopted even more stringent restrictions than Sierra Madre, including totally shutting off the water. Plus a fine.

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    1. Well, gosh. If Sacramento says so we just click our heels and move on. Isn't it you that just said "we do not March to staff's orders or anyone else's?" I guess that is not exactly so.

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    2. Nobody goes to EENER meetings, 9:16. Life is much too short for that.

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    3. What does the UN say?

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  14. Thank you 9:16, I never saw that information in the Star News and I guess I have missed all that info some where else these last few years. Guess one important factor of not having enough water would indicate we should be trying to cut down on our population density not increase it.

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  15. How many ways do we have to pay for the same old rotten water?

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  16. Obviously it is time to disband the EENER Commission.

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    1. Could we rename it first?
      Or how about bringing back the tree commission instead?

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    2. Bring back the Tree Commission. The city needs to stop using commissions to raise money.

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  17. If you print out the Agenda Report for January 27, 2015.
    "Initiated by: Bruce Inman: (unqualified) Director of Public Works"
    "From : Elaine Aguilar, City Manager"
    They are grabbing the power and authority to inspect your home. Their thinly concealed totalitarian veil is water shortage.
    If you have the temerity to beg for any change in your water allotment, they have the automatic Right & Power to withhold any adjustment unless you subject your family and home to their inspection.
    "Each Audit would take about an hour and a half..to 'visit' the subject property and 'evaluate' indoor and outdoor water use and prepare the audit document "
    Just the way the SS visited each Jewish family to evaluate them before..... This is an unprecedented and dangerous intrusion into Personal freedom and liberty in the name of water conservation !
    A simple per capita water allowance is the most equitable, simple and easily managed rationing system. "Audits" are the way for abuse, and snooping. The wealthy will refuse the audit and just pay whatever. The middle class gets the water Nazi inquisition. You really want such people as wrote this Agenda Report snooping into your home?

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    1. Great post. Thanks.

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    2. I'm curious about your per capita suggestion. By per capita do yo mean per meter or per person? If by meter, how does one account for the differences in occupants? If by person, how would one account for differences in need, perhaps a medical situation that requires increased usage? How would that be managed? How would it be measured? Who gets to decide on the per capita amount? What if one went over their per capita allowance? Would there be penalties? Would there be an accounting for different people, perhaps based on medical needs or children?

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  18. Just use less water it's simple and economical.

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    1. That is simple-minded.
      If you had already been conserving for years , you still have an arbitrary reduction target foisted on you. So if you had already taken extreme water conserving measures, you get stuck with an unachievable limit. So they punish you for having been frugal with water since years ago. My neighbor has this exact situation and the only way this dear 'hermit lady' can get a reprieve is to let the Water Dept. inspect her home. It is a draconian and sinister invasion of privacy using the cloak of Office and threat of financial penalty if she does not submit.

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  19. What would all of this additional revenue be used for?

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    1. Some of it should be set aside for a forensic audit, and let's see just why the water department used to be widely known as the city's "cash cow."

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    2. It's mooing now.

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  20. State Water Resources Control Board is bludgeoning every city and residential area in the state in order to favor ag water, used to grow massive amounts of almond and nuts in the central valley for shipment to China. 1 almond = 1 gallon of water. On top of that, Jerry Brown's twin tunnels in the bay delta, used to divert water to central California, will be built with bonds paid for by the residents of Southern California. It' all about politics and money, not actual conservation.

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    1. Kind of like cap and trade revenue (read: new gas tax) from the AB32 so-called "global warming solutions act" is actually being used to build SCAG housing.
      http://la.streetsblog.org/2015/01/21/ca-adopts-guidelines-for-cap-and-trade-affordable-housing-program/

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    2. As an Agronomist I can tell you :Almonds are not the problem. But you are close. The problem in terms of acre feet of water used/wasted/evaporated is:
      1.Rice
      2.Cotton
      3.Corn
      4.turf grass/sod production
      5.Alfalfa for export to China !
      6.Golf courses
      The first 5 should be grown in naturally wetter areas of the country or overseas.

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    3. It is more complex than just the almonds. Key issues surround the politics of growing crops in the valley; however, the profit motive is distorting the whole picture because the ag water is cheap and already subsidized by the urban areas of the state. Good article on it from Slate in May of 2014:

      "This year, farmers are fallowing vegetable fields and scrambling to save high-dollar fruit and nut orchards. The result is counterintuitive: In the midst of the worst drought in half a millennium, the most water-intensive crops are getting priority."

      http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/05/_10_percent_of_california_s_water_goes_to_almond_farming.html

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  21. Additional income to the Water Department to make up for the shortfall in water usage as a result of the mandatory water conservation measures. The more draconian the conservation, the greater the increase to the treasury.

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    1. Golly. Then why don't they just say so? Maybe we need a water rate increase every 90 days. By the year 2020 Pinot Noir will cost less than water from the golden springs of the SGVMWD.

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    2. Those fines are really high. I suspect they were inflated purposefully. If the residents complain, the city can lower the rates to satisfy the dissenters. The rates will fall to what they originally wanted, anyway.

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  22. Ask who recently resigned from the EENR and the minutes of the last two meetings of 2014 to see how the vote went on this City Council directed agenda item.

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    1. OK, I'm asking.

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    2. Caroline Brown resigned. High integrity can drive people to make decisions like that.

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    3. it had nothing to do integrity or she would not been there all this time

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    4. Depends on how you look at it. Sticking it out for as long as she did shows integrity in my book. If I am not mistaken Caroline's concern was with the Tree Commission. Once the EENER commission was turned into an operation designed to launder city hall rate increases it became obvious there was nothing to do but leave.

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  23. Good morning. My property is 11,250 sf. My conservation target set by the city is 21 units. I currently use 13 units and have been consistently at that number for 6 months. It's a very realistic number........

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    1. How's summer looking?

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    2. The summer rate is higher,I foresee no problems. I also took advantage of the turf rebate being offered by the city. My front yard is now dirt and with the landscaping I have planned will shortly require almost no water.

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    3. And when most of the people in town have done what you have done now, yet the city continues to raise the threshold higher. What will you do when it passes you by, as it has so many others now?

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    4. Snivel and whine..........

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    5. Not interested in the pitchfork and torch route, eh?

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    6. I have 3 properties and they all have around 20 units each and all of them are using less

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    7. I wanted to do the turf replacement rebate program, but my yard is not visible from the street.

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    8. My last water bill was the first one that I was able to meet my target. I have, however lost two fruit trees, all of my roses and a good portion of my vegetable garden. I don't have a lawn either back or front and save shower and dish rinsing water. I hate it. Should they have imposed a fine on my previous bills I would have to stop taking showers. Watch out, friends!

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  24. Who are these people? I am very fussy. I want to go to their homes and see how they live. I am sure I will be able to find things I don't like.

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  25. As a good citizen I will OBEY the law as conceived and written by my peers.

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    1. Unquestioning obedience to government is the fertilizer corruption grows in best.

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  26. When the water police come for the "inspection" turn off the water supply to all bathroom sinks,keep the water on at only 1 toilet (low-flush),put up a low flow shower head,say you wash only at the kitchen sink that has a low flow spigot. As soon as they leave and you have your additional allotment back to business as usual. But then they may do random obligatory inspections. So don't tell anyone ny plan. Thank God nobody reads The Tattler.

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  27. My dishwasher is now a drying rack

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