Town Square

Post a New Topic

Pleasanton residents weigh in on proposed water rate increases -- and they're not happy

Original post made on Sep 6, 2023

More than a thousand people have recently signed a new petition to ask the Pleasanton City Council and city staff to postpone the upcoming decision to increase water rates.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 6, 2023, 4:38 PM

Comments (8)

Posted by Dean Wallace
a resident of Stoneridge
on Sep 6, 2023 at 10:20 pm

Dean Wallace is a registered user.

This article underscores the lack of responsible leadership in the City of Pleasanton. Here’s a clear example of the City responding to serious concerns from residents—the petition has over 1,630 signatures—and rather than acknowledging these concerns with clarity and transparency, this is *still* being treated like a PR issue. Notice who's conspicuously absent from commenting here: the City Manager, Mayor, or a subject-matter expert. That’s because, instead of hiring staff to handle the many complex water issues facing Pleasanton, the City has outsourced most of its expertise to external consultants, costing taxpayers millions.

When asked about Pleasanton’s overreliance on pricey outside consultants for handling the City’s water issues at a recent City Council meeting, the City Manager quipped that a full-time water expert would have to focus solely on the contamination issues facing the City’s water wells. Isn't that the point? Pleasanton prides itself on self-sufficiency, especially with water. Given the long-term water challenges, not having in-house expertise is irresponsible—from both a financial and policy perspective.

And it's incredibly disconcerting that the City has decided to double down on its PR approach to the rate hikes here. Their messages around the water rate hikes aren’t just unclear; they’re misleading. They're adding more confusion to a situation that desperately calls for clarity. Some of these paragraphs read like convoluted math problems.

The bottom line is these aren't mild hikes—they’re huge increases. And they will hit many residents hard. We have many retirees in Pleasanton living on fixed incomes, as well as working families grappling with making ends meet, so rate increases that could add up to $1,000+ annually will be a significant burden. The continued lack of candor from the City, through its reliance on obfuscating language and confusing statistics, is a symptom of the greater leadership deficit facing our City. We need better.

Posted by vp
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 7, 2023 at 2:14 am

vp is a registered user.

The comments provide by the city are again obfuscating the issue.

The typical 20ccf/ user cited here currently pays $20/ bill to Pleasanton for their water.

If as cited in their examples, you increase it by $33 (to $53) in Year 1 what is the percentage increase (it’s $33/$ 20= 165%).

By Year 3 this actually increases by $75 and you will be paying $95/ bill to Pleasanton a hefty increase from your original $20 / bill.

This is a $75/$20 = 375% increase in your Pleasanton water bill.

It’s as clear as day, yet they keep insisting on a PR spin about various “components” of the bill, which make this $95/ bill (in 2026) increased from $20/ bill (in 2023), a 375% increase in actuality, somehow become a 30% or a 13% increase. (!!?)

Posted by Dean Wallace
a resident of Stoneridge
on Sep 7, 2023 at 6:13 am

Dean Wallace is a registered user.

The way the City is couching all these rate increases in terms of “bi-monthly” bills, with different percentage increases each year over the course of the three years, is adding to the confusion. The graph in the article above that shows how much residents’ current bills will increase from now to 2026 is most instructive. As these bills occur “every other month,” if you multiply them by six, you get the annualized rate increases for the different types of users the City is showing in that graph.

Here’s another way to look at that graph, with the increases from what a current bill is paying "every other month," versus what they will pay by 2026 (putting the annualized rate increases in dollar amounts, without percentage increases or bi-monthly terms):

Very low use (10 ccf): $244.62 more per year (from $59.23 to $100 per bi-monthly bill)

Medium-low use (20 ccf): $449.82 more per year (from $98.53 to $173.50 per bi-monthly bill)

Medium-high use (40 ccf): $999.42 more per year (from $186.93 to $353.50 per bi-monthly bill)

High use (60 ccf): $1634.22 more per year (from $280.53 to $552.90 per bi-monthly bill)

Very high use (90 ccf): $2552.22 more per year (from $446.43 to $871.80 per bi-monthly bill)

Note: One CCF is equal to 100 cubic feet, or approximately 748 gallons of water.

Posted by MsVic
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 7, 2023 at 7:41 am

MsVic is a registered user.

Our City Council and City Manager once again are showing how tone deaf and out of touch they are with residents of this city. Sending out a brochure that contains errors, lacks clear information is just not excusable. City Manager’s response, call the city and they will help you understand what you will be paying. Really? 22,000 rate payers calling the city? How about pausing the process, getting the accurate, understandable information out to the rate payers. Testa’s comment “it sounds like a big increase”, um hello Julie Testa it is a huge increase, it doesn’t just sound like one.

Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 7, 2023 at 8:04 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

In that "How to submit a protest flyer", the city stated they will not accept any electronic protest. All protests must be by written letter.

With that, they allow only one person per account to submit a letter of protest. That in effect eliminates 50 percent of the property owners. Both names of a married couple are on the parcel listing.

This city council systematically has eliminated half of the registered voters from participating with their voice, regarding city council decisions that impact the entire community.

This is what a liberal democracy is, communist ideology, where all property and wealth are shared equally with the local government.

Posted by keeknlinda
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 7, 2023 at 1:12 pm

keeknlinda is a registered user.

The legal requirement of 50% + 1 written protest letters is the one thing in this whole circus I do not find fault with. I don't like it, but under Prop. 218 law, I have to accept it as accurate.
The rest of it has gone from complex, as are all things related to water, to complicated, by failing to be consistent with or defining terminologies,(Dean Wallace's example of Ccf=100 cubic feet=Hcf= 1 unit is just one of those), to downright convoluted, by inconsistencies in comparisons (bi-monthly vs annually for example).

When coupled with poor proofreading before sending out documents, missing vital information that would enable the end user to make comparisons, omissions of explanations of volumes and numbers of customers compared to when this crisis began, the entire proposal is falling on deaf ears and eliciting angry voices.

And the increase doesn't even address PFAS mitigation, nor a change in the quality of water, which many folks view as far less than satisfactory.

How many of us know that the city currently has 4,000 fewer customers than it did in 2015, when there were 26,000 water utility accounts? That should result in requiring less water purchased, thus reduced cost, right? Nope. Because of PFAS, instead of buying 80% of the water, we're now buying 100%. That's one way to mitigate PFAS, but hardly appears sustainable. There are options being considered, but we've not really been privy to them.

Comparisons with neighboring cities appear to have some serious inaccuracies when saying we will be the lowest rates in the Tri-Valley. A quick look at Livermore's water rates on their web page seems to contradict that.

Lots of things are wrong here, and some corrections are urgently needed, but until the facts are transparently presented and some hard questions are answered by staff, the council would be seriously remiss in approving the resolution before them on September 19.

Posted by Swagu
a resident of Avila
on Sep 7, 2023 at 1:20 pm

Swagu is a registered user.

Sorry middle class! We're selling our homes to investment banks and foreign millionaires in cash. And IF you're lucky enough to get a home you'll be bombarded with high water and property tax rates.

PS: Don't ask about insurance and PGE bills

Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 16, 2023 at 1:18 pm

Billie is a registered user.

Attention single-family residents: Are you aware of the following?

"Single-family residents have previously not paid for the first 20 Ccf (hundred cubic feet) of water used per billing cycle (bi-monthly). The proposed new rates will require single-family residents to pay for all water used."
Web Link

This note is in the footnote explaining the differences between the current and proposed Utility Bill for the line item "Pleasanton Water Var Charge Single Famil." This is not to be confused with the line item "Pleasanton Water Fixed Charge" which remains and is also, I believe, being increased - along with Zone 7 rates and sewer charges.

The latest info from the City is that for a 2-month billing period, a single family water account that has consumed 20 Ccfs can expect to see an increase of $33 per bill the first year (30%), $25 the second (20%), and $17 (12%) the third year.

So, since the single-family water accounts are *not* currently charged for the first 20 Ccfs in the billing period, the initial 30% increase is an increase to what rate? The FAQ published by the City points to a chart for current rates that is blank for 0-20 Ccf for a single family. Web Link

Which begs the question, at least in my mind, until and unless we know what the starting base rate is, we really have no idea what our water bill will be.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Common Ground
By Sherry Listgarten | 4 comments | 2,419 views

Tri-Valley Nonprofit Alliance grew from chance meeting
By Tim Hunt | 0 comments | 494 views