We don't have sewer meters in Poway.
December 4, 2010
We don't have sewer meters in Poway.
December 2, 2010
In my last post, I talked about the years we spent coaching a youth soccer team. Our team was a "recreational" team. All of our players lived in Poway. All of our games were in Poway until the kids got older. When the kids got older, they played against teams from nearby cities, but all of the kids on the Poway teams were from Poway . Our season was from August 'til early December. We could sign up for tournaments during Thanksgiving break or after the regular season. We did that once or twice.
Green Teams: Green teams are comprised of the top talent in each of the specific age groups. A professionally trained and licensed coach is assigned to the team to provide education and training at the highest level and must meet certain requirements relating to their soccer background. Green team players are selected based on their desire to commit to the team for an entire season, which could be anywhere from 7 to 10 months, and will involve participation in local, and out of town tournaments, including regional and state competitions. Participation on a Green team is a serious physical, emotional, and financial commitment.
The PYSL has less than 1,400 members. It’s true that there are a number of non-Poway players. However,I would like to point out that most attend PUSD schools.
When parents drop off their child at practice many spend the hour shopping, doing errands, and then eating in restaurants within the city of Poway. This generates revenue for our local businesses that would otherwise go to businesses out of Poway.
November 10, 2010
October 29, 2010
Bruce Tarzy is supporting John Mullin, Don Higginson, and Carl Kruse for Poway City Council.
(The Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Nov 3, 1988. pg. B.8)
The seven-page letter contends that Emery's committee controls the FF committee and has violated Poway's campaign-finance laws by collecting contributions above the $100 amount allowed for controlled committees.
The complaint given to Knoepp contends that Poway Citizens for Limited Growth became a "controlled committee" Sept. 24, when two airplane banners touting Emery and Proposition FF flew over Poway during the city's Poway Days celebration.
The difference in the shared cost indicates that the Emery committee controls the Proposition FF committee's financing, the five said.
When a committee is considered "controlled," under Poway's campaign ordinance, a contributor can give no more than $100 to each campaign.
According to campaign disclosure statements filed with the Poway city clerk, nine contributors have given $100 or more to the Emery re-election committee and $100 or more to the committee for Proposition FF, which would require voter approval to increase density in rural residential areas. Three people, including Councilman Bruce Tarzy, have given the $100 maximum to Emery and $500 or more to Poway Citizens for Limited Growth.
Hmmmm. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? It is a classic campaign maneuver. Just before the election, one or several of a candidate's supporters file a letter of complaint against their candidate's opponent. The complaints get some press, and it goes to a special counsel who holds off on looking at the complaint until after the election and then he/she dismisses it.
One of the 5 people who signed the letter of complaint against Emery and the Prop FF committee was John Mullin. Mullin's complaints against Emery and the Prop FF committee were found to be without merit. But for the record, special counsels appointed to oversee election complaints generally dismiss all of the complaints. Serious complainers must file a signed grievance with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). During that same 1988 election, somebody did send a couple of complaints to the FPPC that resulted in stipulations and fines. One was against Emery's opponent, Larry Valente and the other was against developer Kuebler. Valente was fined $1500 for sending a late campaign mailer titled "The Republican Update"which did not identify Valente's committee as the true source of the piece. Richard Kuebler, a Poway developer, was fined for $17,500 for not disclosing campaign donations in Escondido and for failing to identify himself as the source of two "hit piece" mailers against Bob Emery.
Prop FF beat Prop GG 2-1 in the election. The rest is history.
Fast forward to 2010. Why is a slow growth guy like Tarzy supporting his old pro-development enemy, John Mullin? Mullin has made no secret that he wants to make development easier in Poway. He has proposed a "streamlining process" as a first step. The streamlining will allow staff to approve projects that now require public notice and council approval.
John Mullin is also a member of CALPASC, (California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors). In fact, Mullin is on Government Affairs Committee of CALPASC. When Poway Patch's Margie Palmer queried Mullin about his involvement in this group, Mullin didn't see the inherent conflict of interest.
"My being a member of Cal-PAC is no different than me being a member of the Chamber of Commerce," Mullin said. "It's a trade association. And people who continue to propose that having some sort of significance with regard to my role on the council are incorrect."
Uhmmm, no. CALPASC is not simply a trade association like the local Chamber of Commerce. Now if Mullin was referring to the US Chamber which spend buckets of money, some of it from foreign entities, to influence legislation in the US that is advantageous for businessfolk and disadvantageous for workers, well he may have a point. While the local Poway Chamber does advocate for their members, they don't bring it to the level that CALPASC does. Check out their CALPASC's webpage. They have paid lobbyists who help write and push for certain legislation, de-regulation and judicial remedies. Our local chamber is doing street fairs, not filing "amicus briefs" in court on behalf of contractors.
According to Cal-Access, the California Secretary of State's database, CALPASC has hired 2 firms to lobby for them: Government Strategies, Inc, (2003-2009) and California Strategies & Advocacy, LLC (2009-2010). CALPASC spent just under $300,000 lobbying in 2007-2008 and have reported over $73,000 spent so far in 2009-2010.
It is pretty unethical to be on a legislative body, even a local legislative body and to belong to a group that is lobbying for legislative remedies at the same time.
So why is Bruce Tarzy supporting John Mullin for council? I've got a theory, but I'll save that for a future blog. What's your theory?
October 13, 2010
In December 1999, owners of a protected vernal pool site off Arjons Drive, north of downtown San Diego in Mira Mesa, bulldozed a significant portion of the parcel, scrapping off native vegetation and filling in fragile pool basins. Destruction of a protected vernal pool site is a violation of state and federal Endangered Species Acts and would ordinarily be a clear signal for prosecution. However, in this situation, the City of San Diego issued a grading permit without first checking their files and completing a proper investigation. In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game coauthored a letter informing the city it violated state and federal regulations in addition to San Diego’s own municipal code for issuing permits. The pools were protected in the 1980’s by an agreement approved by the Fish and Wildlife Service with the land’s former owner and that information was communicated during the sale via a signed letter from both real estate brokers involved. Responsible parties claimed ignorance and Michael Cafagna, co-owner of the property, denied any wrongdoing. In late 2002, San Diego County prosecutors quietly dropped the case.
Higginson and Tabb Harass Staff
the Court believes the City's approval of the resolution was arbitrary, capricious, and entirely lacking in evidentiary support. Moreover, even if this were a CCP 1094.5, et. seq., writ petition, the Court finds that in the absence of any findings concerning the public nature of the road or the effect of its gating on the public, there is a lack of substantial evidence to support the City's passage of the Resolution.
During the remainder of our meeting, I argued with planner Patti Brindle over her various interpretations of the city code. For example, the code explicitly states how far a porch can protrude into a setback. Ms Brindle insisted that the porch which wrapped on 3 sides of the Victorian house was a patio cover that was "open on three sides" and not a porch. I am not an architect or city planner, but I know the difference between a porch and a patio cover and I was really peeved to see how vociferously she insisted on her screwy interpretation. Mullin wants the staff to be allowed to approve things like this without anyone else getting a peek at what they are doing.
Letting the staff approve projects like this leads to many intentional and unintentional errors. And a lot of anger and tension between prospective neighbors. The city is also at risk for additional court cases. It is a really terrible, horrible, no good, very bad* idea. No doubt John Mullin's supporters are in favor of it. I got a piece of campaign literature from him the other day. It was no surprise to see that John Fitch and his buddies had endorsed John Mullin, the developer's best friend.
September 16, 2010
A homeowner with a larger family or lot uses more water no matter how much they conserve. The five- tier system is unfair and a detriment to the conservation efforts. Tier 1 doesn’t even cover what Poway pays to buy the water. Apartment dwellers and businesses are charged the Tier 1 rate, no matter how much water they use. Homeowners are billed according to the five-tier system: if you use 15 units or less you’re billed at Tier 1 — once again, less than the cost of the water. How does this encourage conservation?
The five-tier system not only penalizes high water usage, but also subsidizes Tier 1 users. Are you charged a higher price for gas because of the vehicle you drive and the gas mileage it gets? Same thing here.Ms Ginsberg seems to be really worried that she might be paying more for water than an
August 25, 2010
I didn't speak about the water rates at the hearing. I addressed the inequities and abominations in the current tiered sewer fee structure. The staff told the council that they didn't have time to address the sewer issues. But because the sewer fund is overfunded, they recommended dropping fees 13% across the board. It speaks volumes about our city that the council has addressed and adjusted the water rates multiple times in one year, but cannot find time to fix the sewer rate structure.
Here is what the current and new sewer fees for single family residential look like:
The sewer fees (the chart says "rates" but it is incorrect) are lower, but all of the anomalies and inconsistencies remain. See the jump from Tier 2 ($44.07)to Tier 3 ($66.34)? That's still a 50% increase. A single glass of water from a customer who normally uses 12 units could push them into Tier 3 where they would have to pay an extra $133.62 ($22.27 x 6) per year.
And the rate is still lower for the big users. Someone who uses 44 units pays $2.23 per sewer unit and someone who uses 9 units pays $4.90 per unit. Why? Because the council is catering to the big winter water hogs.
There were few interesting or unexpected happenings at the workshop. Mayor Don Higginson cut off speakers he disagreed with with an abrupt, "Your time is up," and then let speakers he agreed with ramble on and on, and even allowed George Andreos to jump up out of his chair and speak even though he hadn't filled out a speaker's slip. Not unexpected.
There was one unexpected moment. Council member Jim Cunningham asked the consultant how many other cities and water agencies were reverting back to a uniform unit rate for water. The consultant indicated that not a single one has. Almost all still have tiered water rates. So Poway will be the first. Technically, Poway still has tiered rates, but the second tier starts at the extreme water hog level of 200 units, so it only affects a very small percent of users, and only after their water use exceeds 199 units.
I'm in favor of tiered water rates. I know a lot of people were aghast that somebody would be charged more than someone else for their water. What's funny is that some of these same people were, until very recently, getting a discount rate for their water. They seem to have a huge sense of entitlement. When they are being subsidized, that's OK, but when the reverse happens, it is the end of the world as they know it.
While some people call the old rates a "subsidy" to low water users, I prefer to call it an "incentive" for conserving. We have had incentives for buying water saving devices like low-flow showerheads and toilets. Tiered rates are another incentive for conserving water. Our SDG&E gas and electricity rates are structured the same way as our tiered water rates. I know that when I get my bill, I look to see if I have exceeded the baseline amounts. If I have, it is a reminder to renew my conservation efforts. This system provides benefits to the conservers and also to those who need the available resources to keep their businesses and industries humming. The same principles can be applied to our water rate structure. If conservation is incentivized, more water is available for those who need large amounts of it. Poway's return to uniform water rates eliminates the incentive for conserving.
The new rates will require a Prop 218 vote. One more than half of us would have to send in a written protest. That's unlikely to happen, but the city has to pay to send out the notice anyway. In the notice that I received, there is an example of how the new rates will affect someone who uses 25 units of water and is in Tier 3 for sewer. I decided to take a more in-depth look to see what the new rates will mean. Because I have water records (from Apr/May 09 to Feb/Mar 2010) for the city council members I decided to use that data and compare what they would have paid under our current rate structure and what they will pay under the new rate structure.
The only problem is that none of our current council members live on small RS-7 sized lots like the ones in south Poway. So, I used the data I had from some south Poway council candidates for the June election, just so people could see how the rates will affect people who live in south Poway too.
Percentage-wise, new water rates will hit small water users particularly hard. The increase in rates is about 25-28%. Large water users will see rates go up about 14-16%.
The fixed water fee will also increase from $26.00 to $28.00 per bi-monthly billing cycle. This fixed fee is the same for every user. It is like a "flat tax". Supposedly, it is to pay for some items which are not a function of how much water each customer uses. There is no such category in the Poway budget. There is no list or accounting of items that go into the fixed fee. In fact, all the money collected on our water bills for water go into the same pot and from that pot, all water related expenditures are subtracted. There are some items on that list which are not exactly consumption related, like, paying off the bonds for city hall, or paying the salaries and pensions of the city managers office. These items are traditionally paid for from property tax revenue, but have been shifted more and more to our water and sewer bills lately. We don't pay the same amount on our property tax bill for these items, so I am not impressed with the argument that we should all pay the same for them on our water/sewer bill. And to the argument that the fixed fees are an "access" fee, well, if we all pay the same access fee, then we should all have access to the same amount of water. And the right to sell that access to someone else if we aren't using our fair share of access.
As a reminder to how much the fixed fee affects the cost per unit of water, I have added the fixed fee in and divided by the total number of units to find the true per unit cost of water for each council member or candidate listed above. Here are the results:
The true cost of water is $4.41/unit for the highest volume user, Jim Cunningham (434 units). The guy who used the least amount of water, Roger Willoughby, pays $5.58/unit. That's more than a dollar more per unit than Cunningham pays. Another reason I favor the tiered rates is because it helped to mitigate the impact the fixed water fee has on the low volume users. Now that the tiers are gone (rates effective in January 2011), the low volume users will be paying more per unit for their water again. Until we see some change in the council makeup, the low volume users are going to continue to pay an unfair share of the costs for their water and sewer.