Montara Water Rate Hikes Unfair to Families


By on Mon, October 11, 2010

Ah, it’s that time of the year on the coastside, Pumpkin Festival, Parcel Taxes and MWSD rate hikes. If you live in Montara and Moss Beach and you are not on a well, you should have received a notice from Montara Sanitary District dated Sept 10, 2010 with the proposed new maximum rate increase for your drinking water along with a schedule of both the current and proposed fees and charges. If these changes go through families in the water district will be unfairly affected by the proposed changes. I have written the District Board and I appeared at their regularly scheduled meeting this month to try to understand how they decided on the model they proposed but as yet have not been given an adequate explanation. Time is running out for rate payers to protest this change. We have until November 4, 2010 to respond (details at the end of this letter).

Why are the proposed rates unfair to families?

In looking over the information in the notice two things struck me as being inconsistent with the MWSD stated goal to “encourage further water conservation practices”.

First, since water consumption is measured by connection and not by person, it is easy to see how a single person or couple living in a home would have a better advantage with the new rates than a family with children. They would take less baths, less laundries and less flushes by connection, but not necessarily be conserving more water per person. There is no way to tell with the current metering system.

This brings me to my second observation. In changing consumption from a two tier system to a four tier system and discounting lower brackets while penalizing higher brackets on a connection based system may be fair from a raw usage point of view except for the way they choose the brackets. In the old two tier system anything less than 19 HCF was charged one rate while anything over 19 HCF was charged a higher rate. But with the 4 tier system with the two lower brackets each being 7 HCF and the third bracket be 14 HCF, it will again punish families who will now enter the third tier more quickly than under the old system and have to pay a penalty for the excess water consumed.

It would seem to me that the larger bracket (14 HCF) should be Tier 2 where a majority of the rate payers fall and where the median (11 CCF) and average (13 CCF) consumers fall. Or simply make all the tiers 9 HCF which would be closer to the previous system with a small incentive to the middle tier to conserve. I am sure there are other ways to adjust these tiers which would impact all demographics fairly but time does not let me explore those here. 

What can you do?

I know the fact that the MWSD data is skewed positive has probably caused some of the inequities in their proposal and it needs to be addressed but not on the backs of families whose budgets are already stretched in this current economic climate. I urge everyone who is a water customer of MWSD to protest these changes. A majority of the parcels need to protest these changes to prevent the current proposal from becoming effective. Written protest against the proposed fees must include identification of the property by assessor parcel number or address. Send your protest to:


District Board
Montara Water and Sanitary District
P.O. Box 370131
Montara, CA 94037

This brings me back to my opening line about this time of year. Most of you probably received your parcel tax bill for 2010-2011 where you can find your parcel number in the upper right corner. And this weekend being Pumpkin Festival with many of us trapped in our homes for the weekend makes for an opportune time to write a protest to the MWSD.

Also, I urge you to attend the public hearing on this matter and voice your concerns:

Date:      November 4, 2010
Time:      7:30 p.m.
Where:  Boardroom
      Montara Water and Sanitary District Administrative Offices
8888 Cabrillo Highway
Montara, Ca 94037
(Adjacent to the Pt. Montara Lighthouse & Hostel