On a 4-1 vote, the Santa Fe Irrigation District voted to increase water rates using the same formula we previously reported on. The SFID water rate increase portal is here. Dr. Marlene King, the SFID Director responsible for Division 3 which includes the Eastern portion of Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks was the sole vote against the rate increase. Division 1 Board member Ken Dunford, who represents the south western portion of Rancho Santa Fe and western Solana Beach, voted for the rate increase. Click here for a SFID Board Division map.
At the January 16th meeting, Dr. Marlene King presented prepared remarks about the rate increase. Her comments criticized the SFID for lack of transparency in their communications regarding the rate increase. More worryingly, she pointed out that this rate increase may very well be insufficient, and that more increases may be forthcoming. The rate increase language specifically allows additional rate increases of up to an additional 5% per year in years 2 and 3 due to wholesale water rate pass throughs. Any such additional rate increases would have to be passed by the SFID Board, but no protest could block it. So a 3% per year average for three years may very well end up being lower that what actually happens.
King also points out that the new rate structure imposes a 16% increase in agricultural rates, something of interest to all Rancho residents since the RSF golf course (as well as Lomas Santa Fe golf courses) will be hit with this rate increase. She points out that these golf courses have reduced water usage by around 30% in the past 11 years, yet they continue to be assessed punitive rates.
King contrasts how SFID treats large water customers to other nearby water agencies and notes that other agencies treat their large volume customers considerably better.
King’s remarks then launch into a technical critique of the basis for the tiered rate structure. This boils down to the fact that the SFID rate structure allocates cheaper local water largely to low water consumers, leaving more expensive water for the larger customers to shoulder. She concludes stating that her preference would have been a two tier rate structure.
The ball is in the Association’s court. They sued the SFID over a year ago based on their last attempt to inequitably raise rates. While they have not publicly stated their next move, presumably they are analyzing this latest SFID action.