BY DONNA WESTFALL
The Prop 218 process to protest increasing utility rates allows for a couple of things:
1. The owners/rate payers have only 45 days to hit their magic number. In this case, this afternoon at 4:13 pm the city has graciously shared the magic figure and advised me that there are 3,391 unique parcels. Mind you, I requested this information a loooong time ago. We now have 20 days left to collect the rest of the needed signatures. The City has no incentive to help us achieve our goals. We’re at cross purposes.
2. To win, we must turn in 50% + 1.
50% of what?
50% of 3,391. Then add 1 which totals 1,696.
That means we need to turn in VALID, let me repeat, VALID protests. No Post Office Boxes are allowed. Only your street address. No sloppy printing. It must be legible.
Then, we have been advised by Attorney Tim Bittle from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to get an additional 20% so that if there are any disputes with the city, and we think we would win, they may take our case to court.
On November 4th, we turned in over 2200 signatures on the water rate protest. Over 900 were disqualified. Some really should have been counted. But aside from that, at that time we were under the impression that any tenant could protest. That was a mistake. Only the tenant responsible for the utility bill can sign. Or the owner of the parcel can sign. Only 1 vote will be counted. But get this. There are 2 potential people that can sign.
Let me repeat.
Only 1 vote per parcel will be counted. Ether the owner, or the tenant that pays the bill.
Again, you do not need to be a registered voter to sign a protest letter because this comes under Proposition 218. This is not an election and you do not get a ballot.
If you live in an apartment where the water/sewer is part of your rent, YOU CAN NOT SIGN A PROTEST. It’s a waste of time.
If you live in an apartment where you PAY the water/sewer, you can sign. We are trying to get the owners to sign first thus eliminating the need for tenants to sign. We only need 1 tenant to sign for the entire parcel.
If you rent a space in Spruce Haven Mobile Home Part, you can NOT sign a protest because you pay your water/sewer to the manager with your rent. Spruce Haven has a master lease with the city. So, even though each mobile home has it’s own assessor’s parcel number, they are not counted individually. 85 spaces and the park only gets 1 vote.
If you have questions, call (707) 951 3650. It would be best if you provided us with the name, address and telephone number of the owner of your park or apartment.
Also, this time, we are double checking owners and tenants. That’s why volunteers sitting at tables around town are now asking for your phone number. So if there is any question, we will call you up and ask for your sewer account number and clarify who lives at that address and who the owner is at that address. The City will not provide that information to us. Although it may seem like we’re fighting a battle with one hand tied behind our back, it’s a win-able battle.
You see, losing is not an option.