Last evening the people of our
community spoke and, for a change, somebody listened. That
California Water District, had proposed a BUILDING MORATORIUM by
eliminating eliminating the issuance of water availability letters and
the installation of new water meters. That would have deleteriously
impacted residential and commercial development in the City of
Temecula, some in the City of Murrieta, the Wine Country and other
unincorporated areas including the vineyards and avocado and citrus
The effort brought out
am avalanche of community response, hundreds of letters and emails
generated by the business and Real Estate community, and a parade of
speakers in opposition to the proposal - a true
Grassroots effort. City and County leaders, developers,
wineries, Realtors, attorneys business owners and 'just plain folks'
spoke out against this poorly conceived and ill-timed matter.
The outpouring was so
large that RCWD
had to bring in workers to direct traffic in their lot and post
security. As one Director noted, there were more people assembled last
night than they've seen in total in the past ten years.
The dog-and-pony show
that preceded public comments included presentations from RCWD General
Manager Matt Stone as well as representatives from the Metropolitan Water District
and the Eastern and
Western Municipal Water Districts. I suspect RCWD brought these
folks in thinking they would bolster RCWD's position in
playing up the water crisis. Unfortunately these representatives did
just the opposite. They spoke of being 'under
allocation', the positive
effects that conservation measures have provided and the
variety of projects underway
and planned to address the shortage at the local and state
level. Kinda takes the wind out of your sails when the people you get
the water from poo-poo your whole rationale. As Eastern's GM told us
- the problem is not No water
but rather no CHEAP water.
There is no denying that
California is experiencing a drought - a combination of natural drought caused by
less rainfall and snowpack the past 3 years, and a regulatory drought caused
by a federal judge responding to environmentalists concerned about the
possible extinction of the Delta Smelt. This last aspect has actually
contributed more to the problem than the lack of rainfall, leading to
greatly restricted water flowing to 20 million Southern Californians
and to the Central Valley.
The Central Valley of
our state, often referred to as the foodbasket
of the nation, has allowed over 200,000 acres to go fallow from
lack of irrigation water, entire groves of fruit and nut trees are dying and unemployment is over 40%.
New tiered water rate structures have boosted everybodies bills by 20%
- 40% with more coming in spite of the fact that demand from our
largest wholesaler - Metropolitan, has declined in each of the last
Our water companies have
borrowed a page from the oil company playbook - whenever there's a shortage, whether
real or perceived, don't miss that opportunity to jack your rates.
But as I told them last night, not even the oil companies are
shortsighted enough to propose a moratorium on building automobiles.
Our local economy is built around positive growth - shut that down, you
shut down the whole revenue stream,the job market and critical city
The problem with the
Director who proposed the moratorium, Jack Hoagland, is that he is
being myopic to a fault. He is looking at the issue as if water is the
only player in the game. He has consistently refused to acknowledge
that he is surrounded by an entire forest as he focuses on a single
tree, that water is but one
tile in the mosaic that makes up our economic
The efforts of our
cities, our EDC, our Chambers has been to support the businesses that
are trying to hang on during these challenging times and attract new
ones bringing much needed job growth to the area. Currently over 60% of
our residents still commute to San Diego, Orange or LA counties to
moratorium is a job-killer for our community while chasing
those jobs and tax revenue to nearby cities not subject to RCWD. It shuts off the spigot not just for water
but for much needed jobs.
Last night five out of seven
RCWD Directors got it. Thankfully.
But as they and other
pointed out, we need an El Nino
this winter, Colorado needs a
lot of snow, and we as a state need to pass the recently enacted $11 Billion
water bond measure next year to bring some long term
relief to our over burdened water infrastructure. Otherwise this moratorium proposal may
be revisited and next time we may not prevail.
If the meeting
accomplished nothing else, it elevated the discussion to a whole new
level and provided a good education to a lot of people who may not
otherwise be engaged. RCWD is evaluating other alternatives now and a
new dialogue has been opened between them and the community they serve.
Let's hope we can all make the most of this reprieve.