letters to the editor

Majority of ratepayers being left behind

It’s hard to believe the San Lorenzo Valley Water District promotes this rate increase as supporting water conservation. Anyone taking a few minutes to run the numbers out will see right away it’s the opposite.

None of the four board members voting for this want to admit the increase intentionally targets and punishes conservation and low water users, like that single retired person on social security who will be faced with the equivalent of a month’s worth of groceries increase over the first year.

It’s a plan made by people who don’t represent everyone in our community, board members and others giving poor advice like the overbearing “Friends” political group, who are entitled only to their opinions, not to shoving their control needs ahead of the rest of us.

I’m turning in a Protest Ballot in support of water conservation and to protest for better representation for the majority of us being left behind.

Ed Frech

When is enough, enough?

San Lorenzo Valley Water District wants another water rate increase. They want an increase to begin March 2024 and end in 2028. The total increase will be 48% spread over five years.

We just finished a 65% increase from 2017 to 2022. That will be 100% in 10 years. Yikes! It is almost four times the rate of inflation. Water is a basic need. These costs have to get under control.

We need all ratepayers to send in their Protest Ballots to say, “Enough!” The deadline is Feb. 15. Remember: If you do not submit a signed protest ballot, it will be counted as a “Yes” vote whether you support it or not.

You can download a Protest Ballot at their website: SLVWD.com.

Let’s stop this insanity together!

Donna Fertig
Ben Lomond

New rate punishes low water users

San Lorenzo Valley Water District sold 600,000 units of water in each of the last two years and billed customers $12 million. That’s already $20 per unit, which needs to increase so they can pay employees more.

But they propose to charge most customers less than that for years. SLVWD wants to sell water below cost and make up for it through high fixed charges.

The buzz phrase at SLVWD has been “revenue stability.” That means making every household pay equally, no matter how much water they use. The proposed increase in fixed charges for zero units of water—45% next month and 67% in a few years—is a highly regressive tax and terrible public policy.  

Low water users will be punished to subsidize those who use more.

Water conservation should always be a goal. But by reducing the price of water for most customers, the proposed restructuring will provide less incentive to maintain reduced consumption. Meanwhile average cost will increase due to the proliferation of fixed charges.

A better solution would keep the current price of $12.66 per unit as an absolute minimum, which would allow a lower basic charge.

It also doesn’t make sense to have apartments and bars pay less for water than our public schools. SLV Unified School District is SLVWD’s biggest customer and deserves SLVWD’s best rate.

If you have thoughts about SLVWD’s rate restructuring, please come to the rate increase hearing on Feb. 15 to let our water board know and see how they respond.

Bruce Holloway
Boulder Creek

Latest water rate hike is too severe

Like others, I’m trying to understand why San Lorenzo Valley Water District proposed rate increases are so high.

We know the district recently took out loans for $30 million and spent $15 million, leaving millions for FEMA-backed capital projects. Yet, many other projects are being delayed, causing them to become even more expensive.

The district continues to rely on expensive consultants and contractors, and highly paid rate consultants that only reverse-engineer rate increases to meet these ballooning expenses caused by ill-planned cost overruns, lacking responsible accountability and planning.

This same problem has existed for at least 15 years, all the while SLVWD continues to blindly increase rates without any public checks and balances.

SLVWD continues to demand higher rates, especially from those who conserve water because they want to apply for more loans, putting all 7,980 SLV ratepayers under greater duress and pressure to rescue them from a disaster of their making caused by poor planning and execution of replacing and repairing our infrastructure.

This is why we, as SLV ratepayers, need to slow down these proposed inequitable and unaccountable rate increases and ask the Board to withdraw this severe rate increase and adopt a rate schedule that is more affordable to all ratepayers.

This is why sending in our Protest Ballots is so important, so they will listen. A Protest Ballot not sent in is a “yes” vote. Get your Protest Ballots into the District on or before Feb. 15.

Vincent Rolf
Boulder Creek

New fish ladder is a work of art

I live next to the pedestrian bridge crossing Fall Creek. That’s where heavy construction caused turmoil in the neighborhood these last many months. Ear-catching beeps of trucks backing up, pounding of powered hammers, the cry of drills and the shouts back and forth between men hard at work. The construction is now finished and the noise and nuisance have ended.

I am not writing to complain. Just the opposite. I am writing to express my admiration and gratitude for the envisioning of this project at its very beginning and for the San Lorenzo Valley Water District’s carrying that vision into being.

The fish ladder that was created is a work of art. It also is breakthrough proof of how humans can add to nature’s way. As Fall Creek rushes around a bend toward the pedestrian bridge, the fish ladder has created five pauses for the water, each connected with slight sluices for fish migrating upward.

The salmon and other worthy ones have not yet arrived, but I have no doubt they will when the news spreads. The ladder will guide generations after generations of fish as they create new life for themselves and us.

Usually the words “taxpayer dollars” is part of a rant by short-sighted, let’s say cheap, folk who make noise trying to undercut rather than build. But the fact is that taxpayer dollars is capital, which can create good work, even beauty. SLVWD’s project shows that. 

Cynicism and complaints now infuse our culture. But here, right in front of us as we walk over the creek, is an example of how a community can make life better not just for ourselves, but for the creatures living with us.

Nice work on our behalf, San Lorenzo Valley Water District.

Dick Lemon
Fall Creek

We welcome letters to the editor and commentaries on all topics of local interest. Email your submissions to [email protected]. Letters must include the writer’s name and hometown (for publication) and phone number (for verification). Submissions may be edited, and will be published as space permits. Letters are limited to about 300 words, commentaries to 500 words.

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  1. This rate increase is outrageous. It’s like these people are World Economic Forum agents. They want to jack up rates for people who use the least water after increasing rates 150% over the past ten years, which is FOUR TIMES the rate of inflation. Most of the increase goes to people who use one to two units of water per month, which are people who conserve water. The idea like with everything else is they keep raising the rates and raising the rates until they drive more people into poverty and then they have a program where if you are really poor (partly because everybody keeps raising rates more than is necessary), you can apply for the special you don’t have to pay that much because you’re poor program.

    There aren’t a lot of new houses and new residents in the SLV water district over the past ten years. The population hasn’t doubled. It hasn’t risen 10 percent in the SLV water district. But rates have gone up 150 percent before this increase 75 to 85 percent of the increased rate money did not go to any infrastructure improvements. They are asking for rate increases rather than issuing bonds because if you issue a bond and you don’t use the money for exactly what you said it was for, you go to jail. If you talk gullible homeowners and renters into raising rates to pay for infrastructure improvements and you don’t actually spend any of the money on infrastructure, it’s totally legal. The law says that if people are gullible enough to believe you that you’re going to most likely probably spend the money on infrastructure, that’s their problem. They can spend the money on whatever they want to including bigger offices, more consultants, more contractors – doing who knows what. These are the same people who did that corrupt real estate deal where a water district official’s wife was a real estate agent and she got the deal to buy or sell property for the SLV water and got money for this and somebody sued and said that was illegal. Instead of just saying, “you’re right, that’s illegal and we shouldn’t have done it. She will give the money back.” they told the person to screw off. A judge held that the transaction was corrupt and that the board wasn’t allowed to do corrupt transactions enriching spouses of SLV water officials. SLV water APPEALED the decision and spent a lot of money in legal fees and then lost and had to pay the legal fees of the guy who sued over this. ALL OF THAT MONEY CAME FROM THE RATE PAYERS. These people are reckless and arrogant.

    Now we have the new American democracy where they can raise the rates unless enough people vote against it. That’s crazy. It’s like, we’re going to make Tom Johnson president of the United States unless at least 50 percent of the people come out and vote against it. What kind of democracy is that?

    Also, some guy on the board who is among those pushing for the rate increases built two giant red unpermitted illegal retaining walls on Wispering Pines Dr. just up the hilll on the curve about half a mile south of Mt. Hermon Road. He built the walls on a very steep hill a few months ago and one is leaning over and might fall into the street and hurt somebody or block traffic. It’s amazing that these people apparently want to save money by doing illegal construction on their own property but they want to jack up everybody’s water rates to spend extravagantly on SLV water operations – that keep going up even though the number of houses connected to the system sure hasn’t doubled.

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