Dear Friends, Neighbors and Residents,
Other neighborhood associations and resident groups are doing extensive
research on important local issues. Their efforts are to be applauded
as all have jobs, families, and other activities which would no doubt be
less aggravating than the work you will find below. We thank them and
are fortunate to be able to share the results with you.
Santa Monica Mid City Neighbors
To: Santa Monica City Council
From: The Board of Northeast Neighbors
Re: 10/28/14 City Council Meeting Agenda Item 8B – Stage 2 Water Supply
Shortage Implementation and Proposed Drought Surcharges
Dear City Council:
California is experiencing a significant drought and all effort possible
must be made by all communities to increase water conservation. To achieve
the 20% reduction in water use called for by the State, a proposed Water
Shortage Response Plan has been crafted by City staff that sets surcharges
or fines for water users who exceed designated allotments. Differing wat-
er conservation thresholds are being proposed for Single-family home con-
sumers, Multi-family customers and commercial customers. After consider-
able study and discussion, it is the position of the Board of Northeast
Neighbors that the proposed surcharge plan should be revised in many res-
We ask that the City Council take the following actions in its direction to
Staff regarding Agenda Item 8B:
1. Increase the water conservation threshold for Single-family home
customers. The proposed threshold is too low and will impact a significant
number of households that have already made great progress in reducing their
water consumption. Many households responsibly began water conservation
efforts in 2009 in response to the City Council directive to the community
to reduce water usage by 10% and ongoing City water conservation programs
since then. The drought surcharge program should be structured to incentiv-
ize heavy water users to reduce, not penalize households that have already
The City is setting a threshold to try not to penalize those who are conser-
ving water. The question is: What is the right threshold? If you are below
the threshold, you are not subject to the drought surcharge. If you are above
the threshold, you have to reduce by 20% compared to your 2013 water usage or
be penalized. Under the proposed plan, if residents of Single-family homes con-
tinue to use water as they did in 2013, 58% of them can expect to be fined.
That bar for Multi-family households has been set higher, such that if resi-
dents of Multi-family homes continue to use water as they did last year only
20% will be subject to fines.
It’s worth noting that Single-family home customers as an entity use only 26%
of the city’s water and yet they are being targeted for the greatest reduction. Multi-family home customers in comparison use 41% of the city’s water.
The thresholds for Single-family home water use should be increased so that homeowners don’t bear a disproportionate burden for water conservation.
2. Increase the water reduction target for commercial customers to 20%
as proposed by Staff so that the threshold is commensurate with what will
be required of residential customers.
3. Do not allow exemptions of individual water meters as proposed by
Staff. Removing the requirement to install individual water meters from
apartments will not incentivize water conservation. To the contrary, it
will result in end users who are less educated about and less accountable
for their own water usage and consequently will make the water reduction
program less effective.
4. Make enforcement of the individual water metering of apartment units mandatory, and immediately stop Staff’s current practice of exempting new
development from having to meet this Code requirement.
5. Explore programs to retrofit existing multi-family unit buildings
with mechanisms to monitor individual dwelling unit usage. Many apartment
buildings do not have individual water meters. Consequently residents of
these buildings cannot know their individual usage or be held accountable
for overuse. Providing a mechanism to monitor individual dwelling unit
usage would create a system where residents could be incentivized to reduce
water consumption through pass-through water billing based on actual usage.
It is our understanding from a recent meeting with Planning Director David
Martin that there are devices that can be installed that monitor usage to
individual units in existing buildings with only one water meter.
6. Do not approve the proposed increase in staffing or employ contract-
ors to implement the surcharge program through the creation of a new bureau-
cracy described as a “Water Conservation Unit.” The City already offers and implements a number of effective rebate and conservation outreach programs
and has been doing so for a number of years. The drought surcharge is a minor
change to our billing structure that can and should be handled by existing
staff. Santa Monica already has one of the highest staff-to-resident ratios
in the state. The proposed new staffing would be funded by the very drought surcharges that they are working, ostensibly, to prevent. Any new program
can and should be handled by existing personnel in the Office of Sustainabil-
ity and the Environment, which should be directed to set priorities accord-
Instead of using funds generated from drought surcharges for additional staff,
the revenue should be used to offset any anticipated reduction in revenues
associated with the expected decrease in water usage due the water conservation programs. This surcharge revenue could be used to offset the cost of operating
the current water system, replace and upgrade existing facilities and fund the
SWMP. This will create less pressure or need to increase general water rates.
7. Delay the 32 development agreements in the pipeline to avoid further
burdening our local water supply. The staff report observes that despite an
increase of roughly 3,000 new housing units in the last ten years, total water
use in Santa Monica decreased by 1%. Whose water reduction practices were responsible for this reduction despite the additional housing? It is important
to understand how new development can be expected to impact demand for water.
Surely no one believes that the addition of 3,000 new apartment units over the
last decade result in reduced water use in our city. While new units are more
water efficient, they are still generating additional demand and existing resi-
dents should not be required to bear the burden of this new water drain. Curr-
ently three new hotels have been approved by Council and there are 2,300 apar-
tment units pending Council approval.
8. The drought should not become an excuse to increase taxes on residents
and existing businesses and to hire additional City staff. The City of Santa
Monica already has one of the highest staff-to-resident ratios in the state.
Members of the community are very concerned that plans to manage water use in
Santa Monica are carried out in a manner that is fair to all existing residents
and businesses. While Santa Monica gets most of its water from our own wells,
we also purchase water from the Metropolitan Water District. Unless develop-
ment is constrained until the drought emergency has been addressed, water con-
umption will increase in Santa Monica and the price is one we will all have to
The Board of Northeast Neighbors
City Clerk – Please include this letter in the public record for the 10/28/2014
City Council Agenda Item 8B.
From Ocean Park Association (OPA):
Two Critical Meetings on Drought and Water Restrictions
OCEAN PARK ASSOCIATION – SEVERE DROUGHT IN CALIFORNIA – FIND OUT WHAT CAN YOU DO
The state of California has declared a severe drought situation and is calling
for a 20% reduction in water use by everyone. Come to a special community meet-
ing, organized by OPA, on Water Use and the Drought at the Ocean Park Library in Monday, October 27, 2014 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. Gil Borboa, SM Water Resources Manager; Dean Kubani, Director of Office of Sustainability and the Environment;
and Kim O’Cain, Water Specialist with the Office of Sustainability and the Environment will be there to inform us of the coming water restrictions and to
answer your questions.
CITY COUNCIL MEETING ON WATER RESTRICTIONS
WHEN: Tuesday, October 28, 2014
WHERE: City Hall
TIME: 6:30 PM
City Council will be discussing Stage 2 Water Emergency Recommendations
including penalties for use beyond daily allocation for homes, apartments
and businesses. So far, recommendations to reduce water usage by 20% have
been voluntary; with the continued drought, water use reduction may become
A group of Santa Monica residents known as the “Transparency Project” (https://www.facebook.com/SMRevealed) is alleging that Santa Monica Mayor
Pam O’Connor has been accepting illegal campaign contributions. A complaint
detailing thirty-one (31) instances – accompanied by over 70 exhibits – has
been filed. It alleges and enumerates Mayor O’Connor’s repeated violations
of City Charter Amendment XXII, the Taxpayer Protection Amendment of 2000
a.k.a. ‘the Oakes Initiative’) for illegally accepting campaign contribut-
ions from developers, after voting to approve their projects.
In the latest move, Santa Monica’s City Attorney has referred the Transpar-
ency Project’s complaint to the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles
District Attorney’s office. Santa Monica City Attorney Marsha Moutrie stated
that because she “reports directly to the City Council” (of which the mayor –
and subject of the complaint – is a member) “her office has a conflict of in-
terest, as does the Santa Monica Police Department.”
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division describes its responsibility concerning public officials as follows: “Public officials are
elected to positions of public trust. In the event of any breach of this trust
the Public Integrity Division will investigate, and if appropriate, prosecute criminal misconduct by any elected public official.” Specifically, concerning election and campaign violations, the PID explains: “Because the integrity of
the election process is crucial to a free and democratic society, the District Attorney’s Office must be vigilant in enforcing all laws that regulate the el-
ection process. In this regard, the Public Integrity Division is charged with investigating and prosecuting allegations of voter fraud, illegal voter regis-
tration practices, illegal campaign practices, illegal campaign contributions
and falsification of candidacy papers.” (See http://da.co.la.ca.us/pid.htm).
The Transparency Project alleges these serious allegations relate to serial
batched, coordinated contributions that Ms. O’Connor accepted from owners, principals, or senior officers of three of the biggest developers in Santa
Monica – Hines, Macerich, and Century West – after she voted to award each
developer a substantial public benefit.
The Transparency Project describes itself as an all-volunteer group of Santa
Monica residents concerned about openness and accountability in Santa Monica
city government and politics. The Transparency Project formed in 2010 after a developer-funded PAC refused to timely disclose contributor information to
Santa Monica voters. Project members track political contributions to city
council candidates and officers to ensure that representatives serve the
public’s best interest.
The above is reported information. The Wilshire Montana Neighborhood Coali-
tion nor Santa Monica Mid City Neighbors express an opinion on the validity
of the allegations contained in the complaint at this time.