GROVER BEACH, Calif. - A small victory for water customers in Grover Beach Monday night as the City Council decided to increase water rates but not nearly as much as recommended.
Having had no water rate hikes in the city in the past seven years apart from CPI adjustments, Grover Beach residents were looking at a 25% rate increase in April, another 25% in October followed by three more rate hikes of not less than 6% each with the average bi-monthly bill increasing by at least $40.
That despite successful conservation efforts by city water users amid the drought and recent winter rains that have helped partially re-fill Lopez Lake, a major source of water for the city.
Residents, particularly those on fixed-incomes, were not happy and pleaded with the City Council to reconsider the rate hikes.
"We're being asked to conserve water, we do conserve water, and now that we have conserved water, the water fund isn't as much as it used to be, so hence we're all going to be taxed for the water", said long-time resident Anita Shower.
Residents and the City Council were told the rate increases for water and wastewater use were necessary to replenish the depleted city water fund but more importantly pay for more than $5 million in water infrastructure improvements in the city including new water lines, water meters and wastewater and storm water conservation efforts.
"You want those bigger increases, you take it to the hotels, you take it to the people visiting here, not the people that own homes", resident Stacy Weissman told the City Council, "I really don't want to have to sell my home, but I'm ready to because this is b... well."
The City Council voted 4-1, with Councilmember Debbie Peterson voting no, to adopt a one-time rate hike of 25% effective July 1, with any future rate increases to be considered individually by the Council.