Monday, May 4, 2015

Tuesday's Special City Council Meeting: Dealing With Jerry Brown's Water Conservation Regulations

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“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.”― Oscar Wilde

In case you were not aware there is a "Special City Council" meeting taking place tomorrow night. The beginning of what I have come to believe will be one of the more momentous years in this city's history. I don't know if newly minted Mayor John Capoccia feels he is a man of destiny for this town yet, but he is quickly going to discover that there is quite a work load to deal with. I'm not sure the city's problems have ever been much worse than they are right now. Almost everything is running out, and there might not be any more.

There are three items on the agenda for tomorrow night. The most time consuming of these is going to be the budget, which is now going into its second Special Meeting. This in preparation for the rather urgent roadshows on the budget the city is now rolling out. Maybe they aren't 100% sure what needs to be said yet.

We'll try and tackle that one tomorrow, but suffice it to say the can has reached the end of the road and there is no place left to kick it. The City of Sierra Madre will either reinvent how it does government, or it will try for the third time in 6 years to raise utility taxes. The first two efforts at doing so having badly failed at the polls.

The other two items up for discussion deal with water. The first of these two items attempts to come to grips with Governor Jerry Brown's rather draconian water reduction demands. The staff report contains a lot of information about this, including all of Sierra Madre's many attempts to deal with the drought previously. Having run out of water earlier than just about any other locality in the state, the Foothill Village has been at it longer than most other municipalities.

No matter, as far as the Governor is concerned it was nowheres near enough. Here is the paragraph from the staff report on Jerry Brown's water conservation mandates that gets it all down to the real nitty gritty.


Considering what it took already to get water use down 12.6%, this will be a pretty difficult goal to hit. It is going to take some real sacrifice and exponentially increased resident awareness to reach these goals. And while that $10 grand a day fine might seem abstract to some, a year of such dunning would come to $3,650,000. That would have the effect of pretty much wiping out much of this city's General Fund.

So how heavy a role in this does City Hall believe it needs to take? I'm not sure I know the answer to that. And while the staff report does offer some suggestions on how to accomplish all this, I'm not certain that they've quite gotten to the "get serious" level yet. Here are two examples.


I wonder what City Hall feels is more important than coming to grips with its water crisis. Are there other things that city staff is doing that are more important than dealing with water use enforcement right now? Aren't there just a few things that can be put aside for a moment or two each week in order to free up a little staff time?

Renting the picnic areas at Memorial Park perhaps? Or planning pingpong table housing at the Hart Park House?

Fans of irony, please take note. This paragraph directly follows the one I cited above.


So how is it city staff would have the time to design classes for a resident water school, but they can't get out of the office and do some resident water use monitoring instead? Nothing says education quite like the government knocking on your door.

I sense a little confusion over priorities here.

The other water item on tomorrow's Special Meeting agenda deals with the apparently escalating water war with Arcadia. Always a topic that excites us here at The Tattler. This time we're talking about a draft letter to the Raymond Basin Management Board about Arcadia hogging up a lot of the water it is supposed to be sharing with us.

Apparently all of those 5 bathroom modern family houses they been slapping up there are having a seriously large effect on Peacockville's ballooning water needs.

It is good some stuff. You can link to that and more by clicking here.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

68 comments:

  1. The City better think about enforcement. The General Fund isn't going to absorb potential $10k/day fines. I've slashed my use, ripped out some grass and let the rest turn yellow. I am not paying more for water that I'm not not wasting but my neighbors are. Residents still watering daily and enjoying their lush, tropical yards ought to be fined. Outrageous to think the City thinks it needs additional staff to do this. Better outreach and enforcement are absolutely necessary.

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    1. Thank goodness the council is there, or tha majority on the council, to put a stop to Aguilar's bad ideas.

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    2. Fines will not work -the Water Hogs can just say "I can afford it! "
      What will work is a Restrictor. Slowing the Water Hogs water supply to a trickle will actually save water and educate !

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  2. Water Reeducation classes? this incessant drip of government into everyone's lives will drive us all crazy. Why not just attach electrodes to our brains and reprogram us all into the tax paying drones they want us to be. it would be a lot faster.

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    1. Even paying a fine would be preferable to that.

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    2. Is there a test at the end? Do you need to repeat the class if you fail?

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    3. Your water gets turned off until you pass.

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    4. Using neighbors and govt employees to be the informant 'eyes' of government is odious. It was common practice in Communist countries.It pits each citizen against the other,rewards informants and creates an atmosphere of toxic mistrust and fear .I know ,I lived there.
      Our excuse for tolerating it was a fear of the tyrannical power of Secret Police. In Sierra Madre the excuse is an apathetic ,uninvolved citizenry. Who can change that?

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    5. So you are saying there is no way that a city such as ours can enforce water restrictions because it involves people reporting scofflaws to the city? Thereby reminding you of the old country? Can I call you an idiot yet, or do you have more to add to the above ridiculous statement.

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    6. Insults are unlikely to advance the discussion.
      Water meter restrictors would be my recommended sanction.
      All that is necessary is to compare the bimonthly meter reading with the "target'.
      No big brother govt,no snooping neighbors. Low cost and simple.

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    7. Snooping can be done electronically, you know. Which is what you are advocating. It is probably the most popular method for snooping the government has these days. Just ask the NSA.

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  3. It would be nice if Arcadia's allowance of unrestrained development only affected themsleves and only allowed them to ruin their own city but unfortunately, all those teardowns and housing projects mean that more water is drained from water used by Sierra Madre. So here we are trying to save water and letting our lawns go dry and just across the way, our neighbor is neutralizing any of the savings and, in fact, making things worse because we both draw water from the same basin.

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    1. That makes sense. Since McMansions are the epitome of self-involvement and narcissism, why should city govt in Arcadia not reflect that?

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    2. It's not the McMansions that are the problem. It's their highly watered yards that are the problem. They aren't even cutting back water use to just what the yards need. Nobody is turning off water after a rain. They're just moving on as if there's no problem at all.

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  4. I get the feeling city staff dreads one on one street contact with residents. They don't like to leave city hall.

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    1. I'd be afraid of some of our residents also

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    2. Bring along Detective Amos.

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    3. You are now entering Sierra Madre.....

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  5. if we build more houses, larger houses and a whole tassel of condos, our water consumption will go down

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    1. Of course it won't. But beat the crap out if the middle class anyway.

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    2. no, that's the argument and position of a few developers that have swayed the opinions of Goss and Harabedian to become advocates and negotiators for the cause of developers

      why do we keep electing Councils that consistently put the interests of "maybe" residents or "future" residents ahead of those that already live in the city?

      I think we may have 3 Councilmembers who want to deal with the issues and we have 2 that are creating issues when there aren't any. One is hearing "nebulous" forces in head and has had hundreds of phone calls to him supporting whatever he is in favor of - or was it three? not sure

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  6. So for 11 years Bruce has hemmed and hawed while Arcadia took more than its share...

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    1. blame it on the rusty pipes

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  7. No water school! No extra help for the water department. Just make city hall do their jobs. I was driving around randomly yesterday and counted ten lawns being watered at 1:00 P.M. That doesn't include any I saw in Arcadia. Fine these people already! What is the big deal? Get volunteers to drop off notices and knock on doors reminding people of their obligation. Elaine is an idiot.

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    1. Elaine has a one size fits all solution for everything. Raise taxes.

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    2. Holding the city hostage for more money during a serious crisis is not a best practice.

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    3. Concocted crises are standard operating procedure for socialist governments throughout the world.Sierra Madre is no different.
      It is also used by animal predators -stampede the herd and have some easy pickings.
      If the herd stands fast ,the ruse fails.

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    4. They do it in fascist countries as well. Like here.

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    5. Fascism is a form of socialism. But rather than using class warfare, it scapegoats minority communities.

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    6. And it lionizes one ethnicity . See a pattern at City Hall?

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    7. Never let a crisis go to waste.
      ~ Rahm Emmanuel

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  8. In that first bit of boxed text it says we have to reach the state's goal by February 2013. That is going to be tough.

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    1. I think that is the benchmark date.

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    2. Right. It is also the due date. See the fifth to seventh lines.

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    3. It is a mood memo.

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    4. No problem for time travelers.

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  9. Unbelievable!
    City staff has had to send out notices and talk to residents who have received the notices?!
    Oh what an inhuman workload! The pressure!

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  10. The staff has time to design and teach a water school, but not observe resident lawn use. Huh.

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  11. Sierra Madre's insane water use has long last caught up with us. Lucky Baldwin and Nathanial Carter got in a water war and we ended up with Little Santa Anita Canyon, linked to some water from Arcadia’s Big Santa Anita Canyon. Sometimes.

    Then there was the 1959 decision to form up a water district with Azusa, Alhambra and Monterey Park as if that made sense, all the while we were sharing the East Raymond Basin with Arcadia who was down slope from our wells. Our “straw” in the basin is in the shallow end of the “pool” and Arcadia’s is at the deeper end, so Arcadia always is at an advantage. Both cities are limited to how much to pump but you can’t pump sand.

    We turned off our wells October 2013 and started up with chloramine-treated (http://www.chloramine.org) imported Metropolitan Water District water.

    Water wasting Arcadia also has access to the San Gabriel basin and if you look at their city map you can see it zigzag around to water wells sources (at least that is one interpretation).

    Check out our water districts web site to see the full extent of this issue:
    http://www.sgvmwd.org/home/index.shtml

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  12. Maybe you can do the school on line, present your certificate of completion and fake it like so much else is done these days.

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

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    1. How can the city be expected to enforce water use restrictions when there is so much new development to work on? You just know they're going to go to where the big bucks are.

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    2. Enforcement is vital. The inability of the City Manager to recognize that is very troubling.

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    3. Why not let the EENER Commission members do the enforcement? They are the ones who are charged with saving our environment, after all. This is an they are in existence. If the Community Services Commission members are charged with actively working with the events committees, which involves hours of time, why can't other commissioners volunteer their time as well?

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    4. Wouldn't the EENERS need special uniforms? Yellow rain slicks with hard hats and flashing lights would serve as a warning to water hogs that they are in the presence of a true city authority.

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  14. Tattler readers, you should check out that www.chloramine.org website. There is a growing concern nation-wide about the use of chloramines.

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    1. We're all GONNA DIE!!
      (At some point.)

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  15. Tattler readers are well informed on the hazards of chloramine. We discussed it at length in late 2013. Apparently Bruce Inman is a slow learner so he hired a consultant to prove it is harmless and he has "no complaints" of discolored water anyway -so he says !
    Actually the discoloration is the least of your worries. Filter all drinking/cooking water.
    Chloramines cause pinhole leaks in copper pipes. If this occurs under your concrete slab, it could take years to discover -and thousands of gallons in wasted water.
    Simple test - turn off all faucets and check the meter.It will show if there is flow.

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  16. http://www.vce.org/ErinBrockovichChloramination.html

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  17. None of these elaborate "water classes" and water police are necessary. For home use, simply have the water company record of used number of gallons for each property tracked against the size of the property. Period. If the residents are wasting water above an allowance computed this way, the costs go up exponentially, with a shutoff if it hits a determined absolute maximum. Apartments and condos will have to be allocated within the building water meter use, which gets trickier because they're not submetered; they'll have to be self-policing.

    But this has to go hand-in-hand with major ag water reform, there's still huge waste with that (thirsty crops and thirsty cows and pigs) . And for God's sake, ban the fracking that's polluting our water supplies statewide. California doesn't even tax the oil pumped out of the ground, it's the only state still not doing that. Dead giveaway to the oil/gas companies.

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    1. All the damage is being put on homeowners who only use 20% of the water. Brown is protecting special interests. Again, it is all about the money given to Sacramento pols to protect big ag, big oil and big development. Welcome to Corruptafornia.

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    2. I've heard of a building owner movement of making individual renters responsible for their own water bills. That'll do it.

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    3. Let's not exaggerate the Fracking issue.
      What evidence have we that ground water in California has been polluted by fracking ?
      Yes, there is lots of fuss by so-called environmentalists but little evidence.And P.R. -like Fracking is now banned in Water-Hog Central= Beverley Hills!
      A stronger case can be made against fracking if you cite the amount of water used for hydraulic fracturing.If there is verified evidence of ground water pollution from fracking ,that would be different.Leakage and contamination from landfills may be a much greater issue.

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    4. Are frackers going to be hilt with $10,000 a day water usage fines? Of course not. They bought off Jerry and the crooks in the legislature.

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    5. Front page of the LA Times today: Central Valley's growing concern: Crops raised with oil field water

      http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-drought-oil-water-20150503-story.html#page=1

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    6. Ban Fracking Now! I wanna pay $5/gal. for gas.

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    7. Must be happy hour at the Buk.

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  18. I'm sure I don't need to sugest this to any of you, but I will anyway. Write the councilman. Goss and Harabedian will tell us they have received only e-mails from alien beings if you don't. Scream, yell and rage at the city manager, the water school, not passing the second story ordinance without hacking it apart, no more taxes, a freeze on hiring, have the police monitor water they don't do much else in their high paying jobs. Do it everyday until you get an answer that satisfies you. Go to the meeting. Watch it on TV and write them immediately if there is something you don't agree with. Nothing will change until the council realizes we need a new city manager, water man, and no more alien e-mails that Goss and Harabedian say they receive with no proof. Goss as mayor pro tem grosses me out!

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  19. Please follow 12:03's advice. Innundate Goss and Harabedian with emails. Don't let them get away with their idiotic statements. New For Sale signs at the Camillo atrocities - for sale by Jon Butler with a 310 area code. Anyone know anything about this guy? I wonder if they did that so that the "Asian influence" will disappear.

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  20. Based on today's discussion, I fear that the entire town has lost its marbles. It sounds like an angry mob comprised of a weird amalgom of "I hate government" tea party types and crazy "fine the crap out of the neighbors" lefties who want to force complicance with water laws that focus on observed behaviors (watering at 1 pm, oh my!) rather than results as reflected in family usage.

    Take a deep breath. We had a drought similar to this in 1976. We were wise enough to treat it seriously, while recognizing the wisdom in the saying "this too shall pass." In other words, we didn't rip out every blade of CO2 eating grass and replace it with heat reflecting astroturf and rocks. We also didn't start attacking our neighbors and screaming for their jailing in water education camps.

    Unfortunatlely, we were not wise enough to invest in infrastructure. We should.

    Aw screw it. Let's build a bullit train from Palmdale to Oakland so we don't have to take one of those Southwest planes that leave Burbank every hour or so.

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    1. Here is a clue. That way nobody can say you don't have one. The state is going to fine cities just like this one $10,000 a day if they don't cut their water usage by as much as 36%. All while protecting the interests of big ag, big oil, and even bigger development. There is extremism involved without a doubt, but it is all up in Sacramento where the big money trading goes on. Just because you click your heels and kiss that Jerry Brown poster on your wall doesn't mean everyone else a nutter. Just you.

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    2. Leave us Tea Party types out of this, we need water just like the rest of you.

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    3. Hey 4:41. Its happy hour at the buck and there is a stool with your name on it. Go drink yourself sober.

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  21. That nice post at 4:448 proves my point. It starts with a tea party complaint about big government fining little government, and devolves into a lefty diatribe against "big ag" and "big oil."

    And that dude at 5:19 needs new material, as he is posting the "buck" comment over, and over and over . . . And by the way, the local "floyd the drunk" sponsored alcoholic parlor is not the "buck" - its the "bud" - you know, like a pirate.

    finally, i don't love jerry brown, though he seems to be doing a good job as governor by holding he worst tendencies of the legislature in check. and he is bluffing about the fines. he'll go after one big, bad offending city as a show trial and leave it at that. after all, he doesn't want to piss of the unions who own and operate the cities and need the cash. finally, take a lude everyone. i'd say smoke a joint, but it takes too much water and energy to grow.

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    1. Who would have ever thought Joe McCarthy took 'ludes? So complaining about big government fining little government is a tea party thing? $10,000 dollar a day fines is your idea of political moderation, Joe? And all the bribes being paid by big corporations in Sacramento to those corrupt bums in the state legislature, that is all lefty talk in your widdle noggin? Wow. It certainly does look like the middle-of-the-road is now littered with a larger and fatter variety of dead skunk. Go water your lawn, 'lude boy.

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  22. How much of our water waste is because over the years we spent our water money on things other than fixing the leaky pipes.

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    1. The City didn't reinvest in its water infrastructure. They instead used the water enterprise as a cash cow and literally ran it into the dirt. All the while accumulating a huge amount of debt. It is a disaster.

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