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San Diego's City Attorney is already looking for legal justification for what appears to be an upcoming pitch to increase water rates in order to make up for the rising cost of wholesale water prices.

The problem, reads an April 26 legal opinion, is that the Public Utilities Department, through Assembly Bill 3030, could enact a five-year increase without providing a cap on the increase and at the same time only giving the public one opportunity to register complaints.

But AB-3030, passed in 2008, appears to be in conflict with Proposition 218, the state law that requires a cap be placed on any such rate increases. The dueling laws may be an issue if the Public Utilities Department tries to get City Council to sign off on the increase.

Talk of water increases for San Diego residents, however, comes more than six months after former mayor Jerry Sanders placed a freeze on any rate hikes for Fiscal Year 2012/2013. At the time Sanders said the Public Utilities Department would be able to cover what was a 9.7 percent increase in wholesale water rates.

But with the new fiscal year approaching the Public Utilities Department appears poised to ask residents to pay more.

To protect the City from any legal challenges City Attorney Jan Goldsmith recommends that should the council take up the increase in water rates, they place a limit on the amount that rates could rise.

From the opinion:

AB 3030 arguably takes away from one of the main substantive requirements of Proposition 218: namely, the obligation for the agency to calculate the amount of the proposed fee and to provide notice of the amount of the proposed fee.

The California Constitution prohibits the Legislature from amending an initiative measure like Proposition 218 unless the initiative measure itself authorizes legislative amendment. Proposition 218 contains no such authorization. Although no trial court or appellate decision has addressed the issue, an argument could be made that AB 3030 amounts to an impermissible amendment of the substantive requirements of Proposition 218.

Although courts have been silent on this aspect of AB 3030 to date, there is a possibility that AB 3030’s lack of a cap on pass-through water rates violates the substantive provisions in Proposition 218; i.e., that the “amount” was not calculated or contained in the public notice because it was unknown at the time of the public hearing on the rate increase. This issue can be mitigated by placing a defined, maximum cap on the amount water rate increases being authorized.

I am waiting to hear back from Mayor Filner's Office on whether he plans to propose a freeze on water rates.

Comments
1
 why does san diego or anywhere else in cali for that matter need a water rate increase.

they want to raise rates in riverside county also. I do know this and it is a fact. money for water is a scam. there are several underground rivers in cali that run right into the ocean. these rivers are larger than any known rivers in the United States. will someone in government please step forward and stop the scam.Oil is also a scam but who will stop it. If only the american people will rise to the occasion in great numbers can all scams be stopped.

May 15, 2013

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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