• I’m Tired of Lies and Exaggerations

    I went home the other evening and was preparing to recycle my daily missive from Cal-Am (and who doesn’t know that’s who is funding the “No on O” campaign?) when I was taken by the beautiful photograph on the cover. It reminded me of Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the San Lorenzo Valley, or  the Fall Creek Unit of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton.

    Felton. The mouse that roared. A small town of just a little over 1000 where the citizens revolted against Cal-Am’s skyrocketing water rates, forced an eminent domain court case, and saw Cal Am capitulate on the courthouse steps.

    I ought to know – at the time, we owned three parcels in Felton: a 5-acre parcel in the watershed, a residential lot, and a commercial office building. We supported F.L.O.W. in 2005.

    We knew the bond would run about $600 per year for 30 years and be added to our property taxes. Today a check shows the payment is about $466. And in 23 years it will be paid off.

    So who is this woman in TV commercials and popping up every time I open a page on the Internet, who claims her property tax bill has gone up by $13,980 as a result of the buyout? She must have purchased half of downtown Felton and be paying on multiple parcels, because that simply cannot be the increase for one residential parcel, though the commercial would have you believe it. Maybe she was talking about the next 23 years?

    Scare tactics. And untrue.

    Follow the money, as the saying goes. For some reason, Cal-Am is willing to spend more than $2.2 million in efforts to fight Measure O. They have to tear down a dam they didn’t maintain and they have to find some new source of water, being under a court order to stop drafting from the Carmel River.

    Wait. There was an appeal. We all got on a bus, for which Cal-Am paid, rode to a State Water Resources Control Board meeting and begged them to give us a little more time, despite the fact that we had made absolutely no progress in finding a new source of water in the previous 15 years. If you had seen the looks on the faces of the Board members, you’d have despaired. They did not extend the CDO. Cal-Am bought pizza for the ride home.

    But Cal-Am, thanks to the PUC, is not going to pay for tearing down the dam and building the desalination plant plus the aquifer storage and the groundwater replenishment project, which should have been going on for the past 20 years.

    In Felton, Cal-Am’s proposed increases would have had residential customers paying some $1,300 per year just for water, while today Felton water users are paying in the area of $1,200 per year…including the bond. So don’t let that woman, whoever she is, tell you that Felton ratepayers are being scalped. They’re not.

    Don’t let them tell you either they would not have done it had they known At a hearing in 2011, San Lorenzo Valley Water district manager Jim Mueller reported on a poll they’d taken which showed that voters in Felton said, overwhelmingly, they’d do it again.

    We’re not going to get away as easily as the Felton folks. We still need to build a desalination plant. And Cal Am’s infrastructure is in as sad need of upgrading here on the Peninsula as it was in Felton.

    Measure O doesn’t halt the plans for a desalination plant. It is not a “risk we can’t afford.” That was the risk Cal-Am and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District took by not doing anything for all these years. All Measure O does is fund a study by the MPWMD to see whether or not a public takeover of Cal-Am is feasible and beneficial. (Maybe that’s why Cal-Am attacked the MPWMD in one of those daily fly-swatters they send.) Then if it is found to be feasible, the MPWMD will commence proceedings to acquire Cal-Am’s water assets here. And if those negotiations fail, the district would have to begin eminent domain proceedings. We’ll pay for the study, but hey, we’re paying for the Mayors JPA to the tune of more than $400,000 per year, with no end in sight. We didn’t elect them to look for water, they don’t represent a good portion of the ratepayers, and they have no authority but they have managed to vote themselves a budget of more than $400,000, shared proportionally by the cities. (It started out at $33,000 for some stationery and a website, but you know how these things go. Spending money like water.)

    Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett, Chairman of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority (the Mayors’ JPA) admitted at a debate in Seaside a couple of weeks ago that a takeover was not a bad idea. I heard him. But he insists that now is not the time for it.

    If not now, when?

    I for one am tired of the lies and exaggerations. I’m tired of paying for rented water and posturing. I urge a yes vote on Measure O.


    posted to Cedar Street Times on May 12, 2014

    Topics: Snarkin' With Marge

    One Response to “I’m Tired of Lies and Exaggerations”

    1. Kristen Thompson Says:
      May 15th, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks Marge. I always appreciate your informed opinion and you have helped me make up my mind regarding Measure O. Keep up the good work!


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