Monterey Peninsula Water Management District "Water System Local Ownership and Cost Saving Initiative," Measure O (June 2014)
|Voting on Water|
|Not on ballot|
- 1 Election results
- 2 Text of measure
- 3 Support
- 4 Opposition
- 5 Path to the ballot
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
- 8 Additional reading
- 9 References
Measure O would have done the following:
- made it district policy to establish and maintain public ownership of the district water system,
- commissioned a report, to be completed in nine months, on the feasibility of the acquisition of the water system assets and the formation of a plan and schedule,
- instructed the board of directors to begin the process of acquiring all water system assets and infrastructure, provided the report is positive.
At the time of the measures proposal, the water system of the district was owned and operated by California American Water (Cal-Am).
- Election results from County of Monterey Elections
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
|Shall the citizen-circulated initiative entitled 'Monterey Peninsula Water System Local Ownership and Cost Saving Initiative' be adopted?|
The executive summary of Measure O reads:
Executive Summary of The Local Ownership and Cost Savings Initiative The initiative defines an unbroken line between voter passage and public ownership:
1) Adds a District policy and rule to establish and maintain public ownership of all water delivery system assets and infrastructure within its territory and to acquire, if economically feasible, all assets of Cal Am for the benefit of the District as a whole.
2) Completion, within nine months, of a “Feasibility Analysis and Acquisition Plan” that includes a required appraisal, calculation of all acquisition costs, an implementation schedule, and documentation of the net savings in public ownership.
3) Provided the report concludes the purchase is both feasible and beneficial to ratepayers within the District as a whole, the District is directed to immediately begin the process of acquiring the assets through negotiations or, if necessary, through court-directed public necessity hearings.
The full text of the initiative is below:
Section I - Name
This Measure shall be designated as the Monterey Peninsula Water System Local Ownership and Cost Savings Initiative.
Section II - Purpose
The purpose of the Measure is to ensure the long-term sustainability, reliability, cost-effectiveness and quality of water service within the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District as a whole, to lower the cost of monthly service to rate-payers, to promote sound 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.
The group Public Water Now was behind the initiative.
Arguments in favor
Proponents of this initiative claimed that Cal Am was irresponsible, had mismanaged the water system in the Monterey Peninsula District and was over charging residents. Public Water Now claimed that the district could afford to buy out Cal Am and that the long term savings would make it more than worth the investment over time. The Public Water Now website also stated:
At the forefront of all issues is the fact that over 70% of all water we use in 2018 will need to be replaced because of the state mandated cutback on the Carmel River. It will require expensive infrastructure investment. In fact, the current value of Cal-Am will nearly triple as things are going (as will rates), and THERE WILL BE NO COMPETITION or cost-saving public alternatives allowed.
As of March 24, 2014, the most recent campaign finance filing of Public Water Now, submitted in January of 2014, showed contributions of $52,000, most of which came as donations from individuals who supported a public water system.
The name of the No on Measure O campaign was Risk We Cannot Afford.
Cal Am was also a very active opponent of Measure O. Cal Am was responsible for most of the war chest of the Risk We Cannot Afford campaign committee.
Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett said, “I advised Ron Cohen [director of Public Water Now] almost a year ago this was exactly the wrong time for this initiative. Undermining Cal Am at this juncture is shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Opponents of the measure said that it was not the time to be worried about public ownership. They argued that as water shortages were becoming a real crisis in the district, the voters should not authorize a complete switch in the operation and management of the water system. They pointed to the proposed desalination project that Cal Am was working on, at the time, positing that the development of such crucial infrastructure would come to a grinding halt if Measure O was approved. They also argued that if Measure O was approved, the district would spend a lot of money and time on a feasibility study and legal proceedings needed to initiate the public purchase of the water system, while ignoring any real solutions to the water crisis, namely the purchase and construction of new technology and facilities. Opponents also argued that public ownership and operation of the water system would not guarantee lower water rates, as proponents claimed.
As of March 25, 2014, the campaign finance filings of the Risk We Cannot Afford committee showed total contributions of $465,000. Nearly all of this substantial war chest was donated by Cal Am.
|California American Water||$453,971|
|Water Not Politics committee||$10,000|
|Democratic State Central Committee||$1,029|
Path to the ballot
| Total campaign cash |
as of March 25, 2014
Initiative proponents needed valid signatures equaling 10 percent of the registered voters in the district to qualify their initiative for the ballot. On January 13, 2014, Public Water Now submitted 8,517 signatures in the petitions for the "Water System Local Ownership and Cost Saving Initiative." Through a random sampling of 500 signatures, it was determined that approximately 7,563 of the submitted signatures were valid. This was 134 percent of the required 5,644 signatures, giving the district board of directors the option of either enacting the initiative without alteration or presenting it to the voters. During their January 29, 2014, meeting, the board of directors approved a resolution putting the initiative on the June 3, 2014, election ballot in the form of Measure O.
- Monterey Herald, "Monterey Peninsula water authority has options on initiative to study public buyout of Cal Am," March 12, 2014
- County of Monterey Elections, "STATEWIDE PRIMARY ELECTION June 3, 2014," accessed June 3, 2014
- Public Water Now website, "Water System Local Ownership and Cost Saving Initiative," archived March 27, 2014
- California American Water website, accessed March 27, 2014
- Monterey County Registrar website, "June 3, 2014, ballot measures," archived March 27, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Public Water Now website, accessed March 27, 2014
- Public Water Now website, "Why Go Public," archived March 28, 2014
- Monterey Herald, "Cal Am-backed suit challenges Measure O ballot argument," March 26, 2014
- Monterey County Weekly, "Cal Am buyout measure debate intensifies; Peninsula water district preps for study." April 3, 2014
- The Herald, "Water measure a risk we cannot afford," March 11, 2014
- Monterey Peninsula Water Management District website, "Board of Directors resolution putting Measure O on the ballot," accessed March 27, 2014