Tag Archive for: San Diego LAFCO

Water Authority OK’s Suit to Keep Districts from Leaving as They Rush to Pack

San Diego’s biggest water seller will sue the boundary referees that allowed two of its buyers to leave its business territory.

After hours of deliberation in a closed meeting last week, the board of the San Diego County Water Authority voted to sue the Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO. That’s because LAFCO’s board agreed to let Rainbow Municipal Water District and the Fallbrook Public Utilities District divorce from the Water Authority last month so they could buy cheaper water from Riverside County.

San Diego County Water Authority to Negotiate with Fallbrook, Rainbow Over ‘Divorce’

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors held a special meeting Thursday to determine whether to file a lawsuit to keep the water districts in Fallbrook and Rainbow from leaving to join a district in Riverside County.

In the end, the board voted to enter into settlement negotiations with the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District.

“We’re going to try to meet with Fallbrook and Rainbow to better understand some of the challenges they have presented through this process,” said Nick Serrano, vice chair of the Water Authority Board of Directors.

Water ratepayers-LAFCO decision-detachment-San Diego County Water Authority-water rates

LAFCO Decision Could Raise Region’s Water Bills by Nearly $200 Million

Updated figures released July 3 show that disadvantaged communities, working families, farmers, and others across San Diego County will be forced to pay nearly $200 million more over the next decade for water service unless agencies seeking to leave the San Diego County Water Authority are required to fully cover their costs.

On July 10, the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission’s board is expected to vote on a plan for the Fallbrook and Rainbow water agencies to leave the Water Authority, possibly with the inclusion of an “exit fee.” However, LAFCO’s figures are based on years-old data and flawed projections that understate the annual costs of detachment by at least 50%. Like everything else, costs related to water supplies have inflated significantly over the past three years.

LAFCO decision and data

LAFCO’s data don’t reflect the inflationary realities or the fact that the financial impacts of detachment will continue far beyond LAFCO’s five-year horizon, which does not reflect the actual lifespan of water infrastructure or the debt used to finance it. The LAFCO staff report acknowledges impacts will continue far longer than five years, suggesting that the rest of the county should pay for benefits to Rainbow and Fallbrook.

“From the start of this process, one of our top priorities was making sure that residents across the region aren’t harmed financially. It’s critical that ratepayers who are struggling to make ends meet, independent farmers, and small businesses aren’t forced to subsidize Fallbrook and Rainbow for years to come,” said Water Authority Board Chair Mel Katz. “We encourage the LAFCO Commissioners to require Fallbrook and Rainbow to fully cover their costs.”

LAFCO’s staff recommendation to approve the detachment proposals by the Fallbrook and Rainbow water agencies does not include substantive analysis of impacts to disadvantaged communities, or to agriculture in the Water Authority service area. Nor does it include environmental analysis required by law.

The LAFCO staff recommendation includes an exit fee of about $4.8 million a year for five years, which isn’t close to covering the actual costs that will be shifted to residents elsewhere in the county.

Here’s how much retail water agencies in the region may have to pay each year to cover the projected $18.9 million bill from Fallbrook and Rainbow leaving:

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority response to the proposals by the Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts to leave the Water Authority and annex into the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County addressed the wholesale water agency’s concerns in September 2020. San Diego LAFCO’s website provides addtional details on the detachment process.)

LAFCO Votes to Move Up Detachment Vote Following Last Minute Legislative Amendment

On Wednesday morning June 14, LAFCO held an emergency special meeting to vote on whether to support or oppose AB 530/399, a methane gas bill that had an amendment added to it at the last minute, which would not allow Fallbrook and Rainbow to detach from San Diego Water Authority without allowing the entire county to vote on the detachment.

Six LAFCO members voted to oppose the amendment and 2 members, Joel Anderson and Steve Whitburn, voted for the amendment to change any future detachments to a county-wide vote.

LAFCO also voted to move up the Aug. 7 meeting, when the detachment was supposed to be voted on, to July 10. This would thwart the sneaky amendment by superseding it.

Everyone Is Racing to Decide a San Diego Water Divorce

San Diego’s boundary referees are rushing to push up a vote on a controversial water divorce before the state Legislature can step in.

The Local Agency Formation Commission is holding an emergency meeting Wednesday to push up a vote on whether two small farming communities can break up with the San Diego County Water Authority in search of cheaper water in Riverside County.

LAFCO Votes to Table FPUD/RMWD Detachment

Just before 4 p.m. on June 5, the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted 5 to 3 to table the vote on the FPUD/RMWD detachment from San Diego Water Authority until their Aug. 7, 2023 meeting.

County Supervisor and LAFCO Director Jim Desmond made a motion for an “option 2” for detachment. Director Willis seconded the motion and then Director Jo Mackenzie asked for a 5-minute break. Upon returning, Director Joel Anderson motioned for the vote to be tabled for 60 days.

Detachment Committee Introduces Consultant

San Diego’s Local Agency Formation Commission has an Advisory Committee on the Fallbrook/Rainbow Detachment which met Dec. 7, and the focus of that meeting was to introduce consultant Michael Hanemann and provide feedback on his proposed approach.

Vanderlaan Selected as LAFCO Vice-Chair

Bonsall resident Andy Vanderlaan will be the vice-chair of San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission for the 2020 LAFCO board meetings.

Vanderlaan, who is the public member on the LAFCO board, was chosen as the LAFCO vice-chair Dec. 2. County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who was LAFCO’s vice-chair for 2019, will be the 2020 chair.

Pair of North County Water Districts Vote to Detach from SDCWA

The boards of the Rainbow Municipal Water District and the Fallbrook Public Utilities District have each adopted resolutions of application to detach from the San Diego County Water Authority.

Board Supports Countywide Vote on Potential Member Agency Detachment

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors last week authorized actions to seek to ensure all San Diego County voters are heard on plans by the Rainbow and Fallbrook water agencies to leave the regional water wholesaler and instead join a Riverside County water agency.

The Board of Directors approved a resolution to ask the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission – known as San Diego LAFCO – to require approval by voters across the Water Authority’s service area of any proposed “detachment” by the Rainbow Municipal Water District and the Fallbrook Public Utility District from the Water Authority. Detachment from the Water Authority has potential impacts for water agencies, fire districts and water ratepayers across San Diego County.