By Brian Park
San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Derek Reeve is asking residents to send in letters of protest against the city’s plans to increase water rates.
In an email titled “Together We Can Fight City Hall!” sent to local media on Tuesday, May 13, Reeve urges water customers to fill out and submit forms to City Hall. He cited Proposition 218, a state law which requires rates to be relative to cost of service and for cities to hold public forums to discuss rate increases. If the majority of the city’s water customers protest, Reeve said the council cannot approve the rates.
Since January, the council and Utilities Commission have held several workshops to consider a new tiered rate structure put together by Raftelis Financial Consultants. Mayor Sam Allevato and Councilmen Larry Kramer and John Taylor voted to approve 5 percent increases over the next five years but also to increase the amount of water customers can use at the lowest tier.
The new rate structure will go into effect July 1.
The city’s current rate structure was declared illegal by an Orange County Superior Court judge last August in a lawsuit brought against the city by the Capistrano Taxpayers Association. The city has appealed the ruling and continues to charge customers based on that model.
The city is hosting two additional water forums to answer questions and receive public input on Thursday, May 29 and Tuesday, June 10, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Community Center.
The CTA is also hosting an informational meeting on Thursday, June 5, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Capistrano Community Church.
Reeve said residents must submit their protest forms before the end of the council’s June 17 meeting, when they are scheduled to conduct a public hearing about the rates.