presents
Voter’s Edge California
Get the facts before you vote.
Brought to you by
MapLight
League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
KPBS Voters Guide@KPBSNews
November 6, 2018 — California General Election
Special District

Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
Measure J Initiative Statute - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passing

23,757 votes yes (55.81%)

18,810 votes no (44.19%)

The Monterey Peninsula Water System Local Ownership Feasibility Study Initiative
— undefined

Shall Rule 19.8 (Policy of Pursuing Public Ownership of Monterey Peninsula Water System) be added to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District Rules and Regulations, to address public ownership of all water delivery systems in the District, to acquire through negotiation or eminent domain, all assets of California American Water to benefit the District as a whole, and within 9 months complete a written plan addressing acquisition, ownership, and management of all water facilities and services within and outside the District?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

A “Yes” vote is a vote to approve mandating that the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District establish a policy of public ownership of water systems by acquiring those systems, if feasible, currently owned and operated by Cal Am, through negotiation or eminent domain, and thereafter control the assets and manage the system. 

NO vote means

A “No” vote is a vote against public ownership and control by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District of Cal Am’s Monterey water system. A “No” vote would allow Cal Am to continue as the owner and manager of the Monterey Peninsula Water System. 

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Monterey County Elections Dept.

This Initiative would add Rule 19.8, to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District Rules and Regulations, to ensure public ownership of all water delivery systems in the District, by acquiring such systems through negotiation or eminent domain, all assets of California American Water (Cal Am) serving the District.  The purposes stated in the Initiative include to “ensure the long-term sustainability, adequacy, reliability, cost-effectiveness and quality of water service.”  

Adding this rule would make it District policy to pursue public ownership of water production, storage and delivery systems within the District boundaries.  To implement the policy, the District shall, within 9 months, complete a written plan addressing acquisition, ownership, and management of all water facilities and services within and outside the District.  While the “Policy” and Rule to be adopted require the acquisition of the water system to be “feasible,” this Policy/Rule does not mandate implementation of the purposes stated in the Initiative, such as “long-term sustainability, adequacy, reliability, cost-effectiveness and quality of water service.”  Presumably, the mandated Plan will address these critical purposes of the Initiative and to effectuate the Initiative’s purpose acquisition should occur only if the plan shows it would result in reliability, quality service, cost-effectiveness and is financially feasible.

This measure was placed on the ballot after a citizen sponsored Initiative Petition entitled, “Monterey Peninsula Water System Local Ownership and Cost Saving Initiative,” was circulated and obtained the requisite number of verified signatures. Pursuant to Elections Code Section 9310, the governing body of the Monterey Peninsula Water District ordered that the measure be submitted to the voters. 

A “Yes” vote is a vote to approve mandating that the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District establish public ownership of the water system, currently owned and operated by Cal Am, through negotiation or eminent domain, and thereafter control the assets and manage the system.

A “No” vote is a vote against public ownership and control by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District of Cal Am’s Monterey system.  A “No” vote would allow Cal Am to continue as the owner and manager of the Monterey Peninsula Water System.

This measure requires a majority of voter approval within the District.

Dated:  August 8, 2018 

/s/ CHARLES J. MCKEE

Monterey County Counsel

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Vote YES for more affordable water.

Vote YES for local control.

Vote YES to get the facts on public ownership.

 

Public Water Now volunteers put Measure J on the ballot with signatures of 11/557 fellow voters who are fed up with their skyrocketing water bills under California American/s monopoly ownership.  Public ownership is our only way to lower water costs. 87% of the people in the U.S. get their water from public agencies for good reason.

 

A YES vote requires the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to do a feasibility study. If it's financially feasible and in the public interest to buy Cal Am/s system, negotiations would

proceed for the District to become the new public owner. 

The Monterey Peninsula has the most expensive water in the country according to a comprehensive study of the 500 largest water companies in the U.S. conducted by Food & Water Watch in

2015/2017*.  That's outrageous and unacceptable!

 

Private water companies like Cal Am are profit driven and intend to provide the highest return to their shareholders. They are not accountable to us. Public agencies are non-profit and we can hold

them accountable.

 

Cal Am can/t be trusted. It promoted water conservation, then charged us $64/000/000 to recover lost revenue for water we saved. Cal Am initiated three new water supply projects since 1995, failed

all three times, then sent us the bill totaling $34,000/000. Cal Am mismanaged our watershed, over-drafting the Carmel River and

the Seaside Groundwater Basin. Now it/s threatening Marina/s water supply with its slant wells.

 

Every resident, business and worker is affected by the high cost of water, even if they don/t pay a Cal Am bill directly. 

 

YES on J is the only way for the public to get all the facts.

 

*Study available at publicwaternow.org/mosCexpensive_water

 

/s/ Dennis Mar, President, League of Women Voters of Monterey County

/s/ Clyde W. Roberson, Mayor of Monterey

/s/ Karin Strasser Kauffman, Former Monterey County Supervisor

/s/ Richard Stillwell, Business Owner

/s/ David R. Pacheco, City of Seaside City Council

 

— http://www.mpwmd.net/wp-content/uploads/ImpartialAnalysisArgumentinFavorArgumentAgainst.pdf

Arguments AGAINST

We share your frustration with Monterey Peninsula water rates. Kicking out Cal Am may sound appealing - until you examine the

facts.

 

Remember, it's not water itself that costs money - it's the cost of delivering that water to your house. 

 

Water has to be pumped, purified, stored, and delivered through miles of pipes, pumps, water testing facilities and storage tanks. Cal Am has invested many millions of dollars to build and maintain this water system.

 

If we pass Measure J in 2018, the history of similar takeover attempts shows it'll be 5 to 7 years of legal battles before the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) could seize the system from Cal Am by eminent domain.

 

By then, Cal Am will have completed the desal plant that will solve our chronic water shortages.

 

By then, the cost of buying out Cal Am's property will have soared to approximately $700 million or more. That's $1,100 a year on every customer's water bills or property taxes - for the next 30 to 50 years. Depending on how it's financed, that's $35,000 to $55,000 per household.

 

That's on top of the rates you're currently paying. And promises of lower rates have no basis in fact, because no government takeover of a water system in California has resulted in lower costs to customers in the last 20 years.

 

In the Santa Cruz County community of Felton, the government takeover campaign claimed buying the system wouldn't cost more than $2 million. After years of litigation, it actually cost $13.4 million - plus $2 million in administrative and legal fees. Every household is now paying over $16,000 in bond payments. Plus water rates themselves have gone up 96% since the government takeover.

 

We're progressives and conservatives. We're liberal Democrats and anti-tax Republicans. But we're united in opposing Measure J.

Stop the Costly Water Boondoggle VOTE NO on Measure J.

 

www.5toptheCostlyWaterBoondoggle.com

/s/ Mary Ann Leffel, Co-Founder, Monterey County Business Council

/s/  Brian LeNeve, Conservation Chair, Carmel River Steel head Association

/s/ John V. Narigi, Chairman, Coalition of Peninsula Businesses

/s/ Rick Heuer, President, Monterey Peninsula Taxpayers Association

/s/ Sue McCloud, Former Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea

 

— http://www.mpwmd.net/wp-content/uploads/ImpartialAnalysisArgumentinFavorArgumentAgainst.pdf

Replies to Arguments FOR

These same backers who tried to pull the wool over our eyes in 2014 are at it again.

 

Water on the Monterey Peninsula is costly because the state mandated cutbacks on drawing water from our primary source - the Carmel River - and ordered rate structures that encourage conservation - so large users pay more.

 

During the drought, water usage dropped, but the cost of running the water system - maintaining the pipes, water storage tanks, pumping facilities and personnel - didn't go down.

 

So dozens of publicly-owned water systems across the state are raising rates.

 

Cal Am owns the pipes, storage tanks, pumps - everything that brings water to homes and businesses across the Monterey Peninsula.

 

We/ve studied these issues carefully - and simply put - there's no way buying over $700 million worth of hard assets - including the desal plant beginning construction this fall- will reduce our water costs.

 

That buyout bill alone will come to $1/100 per year per customer for the next 30 to 50 years - over and above your water bill.

 

Don't be fooled. This isn't a fact-finding mission. Measure J allows the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to seize Cal Am's assets by eminent domain and force every water user to pay for it - without going back to voters for permission.

 

Every attempted takeover of a private water company in California in the last 20 years has cost ratepayers more money in higher water rates, legal bills and buyout costs. Monterey Peninsula won/t be any different.

 

Don't fall for pie-in-the-sky promises.

 

Vote No on Measure J.

 

www.NoMeasureJ.com

 

/s/ Carlos Ramos, Jr., Chair, Latino Water Coalition

/s/ Jody Hansen, President & CEO, Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

/s/ Ron Chesshire, Former Director, Monterey Peninsula Water Management District

/s/ Paul B. Bruno, Director, Seaside Groundwater Basin Watermaster

/s/ Moe Ammar, President, Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce

— http://www.mpwmd.net/wp-content/uploads/ImpartialAnalysisArgumentinFavorArgumentAgainst.pdf

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Vote YES on J to get the facts that Cal Am doesn't want you to

know.

 

There's no risk in exploring public ownership.

 

Measure J will determine if it's financially feasible and in the

public interest to buy Cal Am.

 

Despite claims of investing in our future, Cal Am is actually investing in "their" future with "our" money. According to Cal Am's financial reporting they took $19 million in profit and taxes out of our community in 2016.

 

Public ownership eliminates profit, thereby lowering water costs. Cal Am charged us $34 million for three failed water projects. They over-pumped our local water supplies. They charged us $64 million for water we didn't even use. Should we trust Cal Am to deliver a cost-effective desal plant? Our skyrocketing bills suggest otherwise!

 

For over 20 years Cal Am's solution to our water shortage has been "on the horizon," but never delivered.

 

The facts of Felton's successful buyout of Cal Am differ greatly from Cal Am's version. Felton expected to pay from $10 to $12 million. Initially Cal Am claimed they were worth $46 million. The final purchase price was $13 million.

 

In the past 10 years, Felton's water cost under public ownership has increased 39%, while our cost under Cal Am has increased 170%.

 

No matter what Cal Am claims they are worth, in an eminent domain procedure the court will determine their value. Is community-owned water or corporate-owned water the best choice for our future?

 

Vote Yes on J to find out.

 

PublicWaterNow.org

 

/s/ George Riley, Managing Director, Public Water Now

/s/ Marc Del Piero, Water Rights Attorney

/s/ Pris Walton, President, Carmel Valley Association

/s/  Alvin Edwards, Retired Fire Captain

/s/  Alan Haffa, Professor, Monterey City Council

 

— http://www.mpwmd.net/wp-content/uploads/ImpartialAnalysisArgumentinFavorArgumentAgainst.pdf

Read the proposed legislation

Proposed legislation

Full text of Measure J

The people of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District do ordain as follows:

Title: The Monterey Peninsula Water System Local Ownership Feasibility Study Initiative

Section I -- Name                                          

This Measure shall be designated as the Monterey Peninsula Water System Local Ownership Feasibility Study Initiative.

Section II -- Purpose

The purpose of this Measure is to ensure the long-term sustainability, adequacy, reliability, cost-effectiveness and quality of water service within the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District area, to lower the cost of service to ratepayers, to promote and practice sustainable water management measures, and to establish public ownership of water system assets by establishing regulations requiring the District to take affirmative action, to the extent financially feasible, to acquire the water system assets owned and operated by the California American Water Company that currently provide water service to the District and its ratepayers.

Section Ill -- Findings

1.          Water service in the Monterey Peninsula is currently supplied by the California American Water Company ("Cal Am"), a private, investor-owned utility that acquired the current water system in 1966.

2.          Under Cal Am’s ownership and management, the Monterey Peninsula's water service has become the most expensive water service in the entire United States, according to a Food and Water Watch report in June 2017.

3.          In 1995, the State Water Resources Control Board ("State Board") ordered Cal Am to cease illegal pumping from the Carmel River, and to plan for a new water supply. In 2009, the State Board issued a follow-up enforcement order, and threatened Cal Am with mandatory water rationing for its failure to make adequate progress after its initial order 14 years earlier.

4.          In 2007, a Monterey County Superior Court ordered Cal Am to cease its over- pumping from the Seaside Groundwater Basin that threatened the long-term sustainability of the Basin.

5.          After Cal Am customers conserved substantial amounts of water in response to drought conditions, Cal Am sought approval from the California Public Utilities Commission ("CPUC") to add a surcharge to ratepayer bills to make up for its lost revenues. The CPUC approved the request and ratepayers are now paying a surcharge of $8 million per year through 2021 for water that Cal Am did not deliver.

6.          Since 2007, the total cost of water billed to ratepayers by Cal Am, including surcharges, increased from $2,501 to $6,484 per acre-foot, a 159 percent increase. During the same period, the consumer price index increased by merely 12.5 percent.

7.          The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District ("District") was established in 1977 by State Law, which charges the District with the integrated management of the ground and surface water resources in the Monterey Peninsula area. The District retains broad powers under State Law to do any and every lawful act necessary in order that sufficient water may be available for the present or future beneficial use or uses of the lands or inhabitants within the District, including owning and operating water system assets within and outside its boundaries.

8.          Whatever entity owns and manages the Peninsula's water system in the future, whether Cal Am or the District, it will face significant challenges  to meet the water supply needs of residents and businesses on the Peninsula, while at the same time satisfying the requirements of the State Board's 1995 order. This will require the highest level of managerial capacity, competence, and integrity.

9.          Since State Board's order was issued in 1995, the District has provided strong leadership by implementing five new water supply projects: aquifer storage and recovery using Carmel River winter runoff; Peralta Wells in Seaside; the Pebble Beach Reclamation Project; Pure Water Monterey in partnership with Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency (now Monterey One Water); and reclamation of stormwater with Pacific Grove. This record shows that the District has the capacity and competence to own and manage the Monterey Peninsula's water system assets so as to provide reliable, efficient, and cost-effective water service to ratepayers far into the future.

10.        By contrast, Cal Am has failed to complete three water supply projects it initiated after 1995 (Carmel River Dam, Moss Landing Desalination, and Regional Desalination Project). As a result, stranded costs in excess of $34 million were approved by the CPUC to be charged to Cal Am's ratepayers. None of these stranded costs were charged to Cal Am or its investors. Cal Am's record shows it lacks the capacity to manage the Peninsula's water system to ensure provision of reliable, efficient, cost­effective water service to ratepayers, now and in the future.

11.        Approximately 85 percent of water consumers in the United States receive their service from public agencies. Public ownership of water system assets also carries the benefit of lower interest costs of financing infrastructure improvements, while eliminating perverse, investor-driven incentives associated with a for-profit monopoly.

12.        Public ownership of the Monterey Peninsula's water system will benefit residential and business customers and ratepayers by lowering water service costs, guaranteeing transparency in meetings and actions by governing bodies, assuring public access to records, and full accountability of local elected officials in water system management and water service delivery.

Section IV-- An Ordinance of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District.

The following Rule 19.8 shall be added to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, Rules and Regulations, Regulation I, General Provisions:

Rule 19.8. Policy of Pursuing Public Ownership of Monterey Peninsula Water System

A.          It shall be the policy of the District, if and when feasible, to secure and maintain public ownership of all water production, storage and delivery system assets and infrastructure providing services within its territory.

B.          The District shall acquire through negotiation, or through eminent domain if necessary, all assets of California American Water, or any successor in interest to California American Water, for the benefit of the District as a whole.

C.          The General Manager shall, within nine (9) months of the effective date of this Rule 19.8, complete and submit to the Board of Directors a written plan as to the means to adopt and implement the policy set forth in paragraph A, above. The plan shall address acquisition, ownership, and management of all water facilities and services within and outside the District, including water purchase agreements as appropriate. The plan may differentiate treatment of non-potable water services.

Section V-- Modification Only By Vote of the People

No provision of this Measure shall be changed, amended, or repealed except by a vote of the People.

Section VI -- Effective Date; Application.

The provisions of this Measure shall take effect immediately upon certification of its passage by the appropriate Election Official. Pending actions or proposals otherwise governed by this Initiative that have been initiated by the Board of Directors of the District, but that are not yet final as of the effective date, or that are the subject of pending legal challenge, shall be subject to the provisions of this Measure.

Section VII -- Severability

This Measure shall be broadly construed in order to achieve the purposes stated in this Measure. If any section, sub-section, sentence, clause, phrase, part, or portion of this Measure is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a final judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of the Measure. The voters of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District hereby declare that this Measure, and each section, sub-section, sentence, clause, phrase, part, or portion thereof would have been adopted or passed even if one or more sections, sub-sections, sentences, clauses, phrases, parts, or portions are declared invalid or unconstitutional. If any provision of this Measure is held invalid as applied to any person or circumstance, such invalidity shall not affect any application of this Measure that can be given effect without the invalid application.

Section VIII -- Conflicting Ballot Measures

In the event that this Measure and another measure or measures relating to the same or similar subject matter shall appear on the same election ballot, the provisions of the other measures shall be deemed in conflict with this measure. In the event that this Measure shall receive a greater number of affirmative votes, the provisions of this Measure shall prevail in their entirety, and the provisions of the other measure or measures shall be null and void.               

More information

Videos (1)

— October 11, 2017 you tube
Measure J Debate with Mark Kelly and George Riley

Contact Info

Yes on Measure J
Public Water Now
Phone: (831) 778-4885
Address:
1340 Munras
Monterey, CA 93942
No on Measure J
Email info@nomeasurej.com
No on Measure J
No on Measure J, Sponsored by California American Water
Use tabs to select your choice. Use return to create a choice. You can access your choices by navigating to 'My Choices'.

Please share this site to help others research their voting choices.

PUBLISHING:PRODUCTION SERVER:PRODUCTION