Hang On to Your Wallets; City OKs 25.6% Water &Sewer
Rate Increase

By John Perry

Based on City documents, a planned water & sewer rate increase will hit consumers harder than first thought. The Water Rate Study that was approved by the City Council in February 2010 provided authority for the City Council to levy a series of rate increases on your monthly water bill.

The initial rate increase in February and July 2010 amounted to 40% for water usage plus another 5.5% for a service charge. The Council also approved a continuing yearly rate increase of 3% for water, 5.5% for service charge and 5.5% for sewer.

However, the City Staff is now calling for a “readjustment” of customer sewer rates to more accurately reflect the cost of providing the sewer service.

The residential service will be “readjusted” from 5.5% to a whopping 17.1%. Mobile home residents will be hit with an increase of an astounding 19.8%.

Meanwhile, the City is giving rate decreases to commercial users at an average of 6.5 %. So, that means that the hotel or business with many toilets pays less for their service than a homeowner with a couple of toilets, even if the commercial users are placing more strain on the infrastructure.

This “readjustment” is an obvious way of increasing “revenue” to the Utilities Department in an election year without disturbing the politically sensitive issue of the faulty and costly water plant. Most people will likely shrug off a 3% increase in the cost of water. But if you look at the total water bill, you will see a 25.6% increase, not a small increase.

From the "Gridlock Files"…

 The “Award-winning” Rancho Viejo & Junipero Serra intersection

By Kim McCarthy

During a City Council Meeting awhile back, I watched as then-Mayor Sam Allevato gushed over staff as they were presented a “Project of the Year” award from the American Pubic Works Association for “improvements” to the intersection of Junipero Serra and Rancho Viejo Road. Then-Mayor Sam was all smiles as he held the award while posing for a photo op with other bureaucrats.

Since then, every time I attempt to get through this gridlocked million-dollar intersection (no less than 4X a day), it occurs to me that the award should have been for “the latest traffic nightmare” brought to you by the City of San Juan Capistrano, at taxpayer expense.

If you don’t travel this way (but instead get your share of gridlock on the other end of town with the “Ghost Train” at Del Obispo where traffic is regularly backed up) let me offer you a glimpse of this traffic nightmare. The City has erected pylons separating the lanes. This forces cars into lanes that ultimately back up traffic even more. I have heard from so many neighbors and friends about their frustration level with the traffic congestion created by this intersection that it’s a small wonder the City finally hired a consultant to “fix” this “award-winning” million-dollar intersection.

When I went down to City Hall to ask why this intersection hasn’t been fixed, I was assured that they have hired a consultant and the intersection will be better than ever, plus safe! Does it bother you as much as it does me that it’s Other People’s Money that paid for the intersection “improvements” and it’s the same taxpayers who are now forced to pay to “fix” the “improvements”?

Oppose Water Rate Increases; Join the CTA!

The Capistrano Taxpayer Association, a California 501(c) (4) corporation, was established to serve as a watchdog over elected officials and bureaucrats who spend taxpayer monies in order to assure that the public interest is protected. The organization was formed by local residents who have an interest in assuring that governing bodies comply with State and Federal regulations.

The CTA is offering Associate Memberships for $25 per year. Membership fees will provide the member with a mailed copy of CCS newsletters for a year, access to the CTA website that contains insider information including research and reporting of issues of concern to Capistrano taxpayers and for establishment of a legal defense fund.

Membership is open to all San Juan Capistrano and nearby residents who have an interest in determining and protecting how their tax dollars are spent. To become a member or to support the CTA’s efforts, please visit the CTA website at: Capotax.org  or mail check payable to the CTA at:

Capistrano Taxpayers Association 
P.O. Box 1452 
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675 
SDG&E Requests “No Public Hearing”

SDG&E submitted an application to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on 5/18/12 for approval to double the size of the substation on Camino Capistrano and more than double the voltage on the transmission lines. Despite (or because of?) the huge impacts to our town, SDG&E is requesting that the public not be granted a Public Hearing with the Public Utilities Commission. The proposed project will:

- Build a massive new substation (doubling the size) with two 45 to 50-foot tall buildings and a 360-foot long, 10-foot high wall the length of a football field at the Northern entrance to historic downtown.

- Increase Electro Magnetic Fields (EMFs). This project will more than double the voltage on the transmission lines running throughout town, including through many neighborhoods. Health risks are unknown, but so were the health impacts from smoking and asbestos exposure for many years. Some studies suggest that prolonged exposure to high levels of EMF may contribute to health problems such as childhood leukemia and brain tumors. Families living near smaller electrical substations have experienced problems ranging from hair loss to cancer.

SDG&E employees admit that this project is to increase power to the region, not just to our town. Why are we absorbing all the risks and the visual blight with no direct benefit?

Utility expansion has been stopped or at least mitigated by community opposition in the past. You can email or write to request a Public Hearing HERE IN SAN JUAN and to express your opinion about this project to the CPUC via email at: public.advisor.la@cpuc.ca.gov , Application # 12-05-020 or via mail to: Hon. Darwin Farrar, CPUC Director, Energy Division, 505 Van Ness, San Francisco, CA 94102,  Application # 12-05-020  .

To our City Council’s credit, they recognize the impacts this project will have on our town and have drafted a letter to the CPUC requesting that hearings be held in San Juan. We will provide updates to this issue in the CCS…stay tuned!

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