In the latest skirmish over Los Padres Del Mar -- 10 years after the city approved the project for the second time -- an appellate court has ruled that Pismo and the developer do not have to pay LAFCO's attorneys fees. >>read more
Water influences urban planning only in the broadest sense. It doesn’t tell us where to build or in what configuration. But it determines how many of us can live here. The Colorado River is the biggest determinant of the all. >>read more
The longtime battle over Newhall Ranch has spilled into unusual legal territory with a fight over the status of the private water company that would likely serve the development project.
Uniquely, the Valencia Water Company (VWC) may be California's only active large-scale water provider that is neither public, nor mutual, nor regulated as a private entity by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
VWC still supplies water day by day to some 31,000 existing hookups serving about 120,000 people in the Santa Clarita Valley of Los Angeles County. But legally VWC has been in an odd state of existence for a little over a year. Opinions differ whether VWC is public or private, what rules apply to its continued operation, and even by what right it operates at all.
As California's drought continues to worsen, the state's 500-plus local governments face a twofold challenge: complying with state-mandated reductions in urban water use while at the same time planning for long-term development. While the state's housing needs are manifest – 220,000 units per year just to keep up with latent demand – the long-term water supplies required to supply new development and redevelopment have become less certain thanks to the drought.
In the wake of Gov. Jerry Brown's recent executive order, many districts are imposing cutbacks on institutional users, such as park and school districts, and on homeowners collectively. But unlike the 1990s, only a few communities appear to be placing moratoria on new development as result of the drought. But experts predict that further water conservation measures – including more water-efficient new residences – could take the pressure off of development moratoria in the future.
The San Jose Water Company is one of the largest water providers at the high end of the reduction scale. It must cut 30 percent. That district is allocating thirteen 780-gallon units of water per home – as compared to the 2013 average of 19 units – regardless of a home's size. Homeowners will pay penalties for usage above their allocated units. Bakersfield is restricting outdoor water use to three days a week.
United Water Conservation District may charge urban water users higher groundwater pumping fees than agricultural users, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled. The court concluded that the fees are not property-based and therefore not subject to Proposition 13. In addition, the court concluded that the pumping fees fall under one of Proposition 26's exceptions, saying that the pump fees represent "payor-specific benefits" not subject to Prop. 26's requirements.
The City of Ventura sued United over the fact that the district charges the city fees that are three to five times that of agricultural users, as permitted in the state Water Code. United manages groundwater in a large area in western Ventura County. Historically, United relied on property tax revenue water delivery charges. But after the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, United began charging customers for pumping the groundwater. Pump charges are governed by Water Code Section 75522, which permits United to charge different rates for agricultural and non-agricultural users and also permits United to separate its service area into different zones.