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Pleasanton council approves alternative two-year water rate increases

Original post made on Nov 8, 2023

Pleasanton residents can expect to see an increase in their water bill starting in January after the City Council voted to raise the rates over the next two years following a contentious discussion and many residents in opposition...

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 8, 2023, 12:58 PM

Comments (18)

Posted by Dean Wallace
a resident of Stoneridge
on Nov 8, 2023 at 2:46 pm

Dean Wallace is a registered user.

“As the city manager said, ‘Nobody wants to be in the situation we're in right now, to say there's a rate increase,’ Mayor Karla Brown stated at the council meeting. ‘There are just not a lot of options. Bankrupting our Water Enterprise Fund is not a solution.’”

She’s correct; nobody wants to be in this predicament—facing staggering water rate hikes. And yet, here we are, a direct result of her failed leadership. Mayor Brown has served on the Council since 2012, over a decade. Throughout this time, her stewardship of Pleasanton’s finances has been lackluster at best. This mess along with the absence of better viable alternatives, rests firmly on her shoulders—as well as on those of the City Manager and the Council majority.

Posted by Dean Wallace
a resident of Stoneridge
on Nov 8, 2023 at 2:58 pm

Dean Wallace is a registered user.

"City officials said no one was turned away from speaking, though they may not have been in the room the whole time."

This is not a wholly accurate representation of what occurred. Mayor Brown explicitly announced on several occasions that those outside were out of luck because the room had reached its full capacity. She further created the impression that the city was extending a courtesy by allowing comments at all in the meeting, since it was the second meeting on this topic. She also deemed it necessary to deter residents from clapping or expressing discontent by pointedly reminding them of the fire chief and police chief's presence in the room, and threatening to close the comment period if so much as one clap was heard. Who in their right mind thinks using the heads of our fire and police departments as an intimidation tactic against city residents wishing to express their opinions to their elected city council, as is their right, is an appropriate use of those civic leaders' time and reputation? It's disgraceful.

The City Clerk, commendably, did later invite anyone outside to enter and speak. Nevertheless, to suggest that individuals were not dissuaded from commenting after the room filled to capacity is incorrect.

Posted by MsVic
a resident of Mission Park
on Nov 8, 2023 at 4:56 pm

MsVic is a registered user.

This meeting was disgraceful! Letting 80 year old people sit outside in the 50 degree weather. We are better than this Pleasanton. Karla knew there would be a crowd. She arranged for the crowd control and there by silencing residents. Shame on you Karla Brown. And shame on Testa and Nibert for not listening to residents. Arkin, what can I say, political ploy at its best, yep you are up for reelection and knew this would be passed by your cohorts. Ugh can’t wait for new council members, current majority of 4 have to go.

Posted by Robertbush81
a resident of Mohr Park
on Nov 9, 2023 at 9:27 am

Robertbush81 is a registered user.

So when do we abandon groundwater? It hard to believe with 300,000 people living on top the risk of toxins getting in is not going to go down. The hard water seems to only be getting worse in addition based on the wear on appliances.

Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Nov 9, 2023 at 10:01 am

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

The Council hands a $20 million taxpayer subsidy to Costco (which won't break even for 20 years according to the city's own analysis) and now is raising water rates significantly and even wants to float a tax to prevent the city finances from going down the tubes. Pleasanton had award-winning fiscal policies and has stayed solvent for many years, even through the Great Recession. While COVID was certainly a problem, this "new" Council and city management seem intent on driving it into the ground. Or perhaps its incompetence. But it certainly doesn’t warrant raises for the Council and City Manager (three for the City Manager is the last year?).

Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 9, 2023 at 11:55 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

According to Michael Warning, Environmental Services Specialist City of Pleasanton:

"Our water ranges from 100mg/L to 450mg/L (6 grains per gallon to 26 gpg) depending on the source of the water. If we are receiving only groundwater, the water measures on the high end {400-450mg/L or 23-26 grains per gallon (gpg]. Because our water is a variable blend of surface and groundwater, hardness changes throughout the year and by location in the city."

I researched further for average water hardness in the United States:

For perspective, the average hardness for the six cities with the hardest water is 18 grains per gallon or 309 ppm. (Cities are Pensacola Florida, and Riverside CA. Las Vegas, Riverside County CA, Reno.

That study was 2020. Pleasanton drinking water on average exceeds those six worst cities and is probably the worst in the nation.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the following:

Soft water - 0.60 milligrams (mg/L.
Moderate hard water - 61 - 120 mg/L.
Herd water - 121-180 mg/L.
Very hard water - 180 mg/L,

Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 9, 2023 at 12:02 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

I apologize for the typos.
Herd water should be hard water.
Very hard water is over 180.

Posted by Bob12
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 9, 2023 at 2:01 pm

Bob12 is a registered user.

First the highest 30% charge is applied to the lower water users - e.g. if you a good guy conserving water for years to help out, now you get charged the highest rate for being good while the water wasting higher users rates rises at a lessor percent. GO FIGURE?

Secondly if the city council really wanted citizen response, 80 year old people would not be out in the cold while they do their boring routine business first so as to discourage citizens having to wait under such conditions who might criticize their questionable leadership.

Posted by Sanjay
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Nov 9, 2023 at 2:32 pm

Sanjay is a registered user.

Please correct the 62% increase claim about the original plan.

Annual compounding made it 74.72%. If the increases were uniform, a $100 water bill would increase to $130 in 2024 (30%), to $156 in 2025 (20%), and then to $174.72 (12%) in 2025.

For the two-year plan that won the 3-2 vote, the compounded increase is 45.6% (1.3 * 1.12).

The bigger math problem is the inexplicable nonuniformity of the hikes.

1. Why does only the very-low (10 ccf) user’s increase in water bill (44.4%) resemble the two-year average (45.6%)?

2. All the remaining single-family residents see bill increases 10 to 15 percentage points above the average. Who is pulling down the average? Since the SFR category dominates the revenue, could they subsidize others?

3. For argument’s sake, suppose they convinced us it is fair to impose a higher proportional increase on heavier users. Why is the 60 ccf high user handed the highest hike (60.4%) while her two neighbors, 40 ccf medium-to-high user and 90 ccf very high user, both receive 56.3% hikes?

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. This one smells funky. Being forced to swallow two scoops instead of the initial punishment of three is no consolation.

This pudding was/is not the only option to avoid starvation.

A Zoom session with the consultant the day before the vote raised more questions about the model behind the proposal. I shared my analysis with the city and raised the questions that needed to be answered before the vote.

Is it an unfair expectation of our elected leaders to help us understand what we don't by pushing the staff to share the relevant data and answer all the questions on time?

Posted by MsVic
a resident of Mission Park
on Nov 10, 2023 at 8:44 am

MsVic is a registered user.

Testa should be censured or at the very least admonished/reprimanded for her comments about Jack Balch’s comments being political. He was the only one listening to his constituents. Mayor Brown also should be admonished/reprimanded for not correcting the behavior and also her comments that Jack Balch’s financial expertise not being of value. Those two council members reek of lousy leadership and lousy values.

Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 12, 2023 at 9:43 am

Fact Checker is a registered user.

Water delivered to Pleasanton meets or exceeds all federal and state standards. Hardness has nothing to do with safe drinking water.

Posted by Dean Wallace
a resident of Stoneridge
on Nov 12, 2023 at 12:59 pm

Dean Wallace is a registered user.

@Fact Checker - The current debate over our city's water quality has some proponents missing the forest for the trees. While our water may 'meet or exceed all federal and state standards,' this doesn't fully capture its real-world consequences. We're dealing with water that not only tastes unpleasant but also comes with an extremely high level of hardness, causing significant damage to appliances, plumbing, and countertops. These concerns are far from minor issues – they can incur substantial costs to residents.

And I'd posit that those who praise our tap water's taste and quality might not have experienced better. This isn't just my observation; it's a widely held view in the community. The majority of people I know have resorted to filtering or softening their water. But this issue goes beyond taste – it's about recognizing the complexities of the water issues Pleasanton is facing, listening to the concerns of residents, and pushing for better solutions.

Thankfully, there's a growing movement among people in this city. Folks are finally raising their voices, united in their message: 'ENOUGH!'

Posted by John
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 12, 2023 at 2:03 pm

John is a registered user.

A growing movement rising up and raising their voices? All I see on this forum is 6 or 7 of the same chronic complainers who post all the time. Have a nice day.

Posted by Dean Wallace
a resident of Stoneridge
on Nov 12, 2023 at 2:06 pm

Dean Wallace is a registered user.

@John, if you've been missing the Council meetings or the discussions people are having about these issues on Facebook, I suggest checking out the video of the latest meeting on YouTube -- where resident comments start at about 1:30, and proceed for the next hour.

Hope you also enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

November 7th Pleasanton City Council meeting: Web Link

Posted by John
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 12, 2023 at 3:21 pm

John is a registered user.

Have to wait for the next elections and see what happens.

Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 12, 2023 at 3:35 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Next election will not change water quality.
Water source does not change.
It is what it is.

Posted by John
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 12, 2023 at 5:16 pm

John is a registered user.

Pretty obvious that election do not change water quality, but it may or may not change who and how water is processed. Enough of this for me. Continue with the complaining. Out.

Posted by MsVic
a resident of Mission Park
on Nov 14, 2023 at 7:23 pm

MsVic is a registered user.

Latest on this water issue. Zone 7 bod voted to begin work on two new wells and to try to partner with Pleasanton. Doing so would reduce their costs and Pleasanton’s costs. Pleasanton’s costs for the necessary 2 wells would decrease from 29 million to 8 million! Huge decrease in cost. Proposal sent to Pleasanton from zone 7. But wait - get this - zero response from Pleasanton, no response. This ultimately lies directly on our mayor and city manager for non response. Maybe there is no campaign contribution in it for our mayor. I always say follow the money. Time to step up and partner with zone 7! Get it done!

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