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Storm Water Management & Fees Still a Struggle in CA

Property owners in CA could be looking at fees from local governments to manage and collect storm water, without having any say in the matter – that is, if an amendment to a bill currently in the California state Assemly passes that includes “storm water” as part of sewer services.

In other words, cities and counties in California can’t charge new fees for property without voter approval, except in cases of water and sewer services, writes Capital Public Radio. Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, says sewer services should include storm water  – but 15 years ago, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association won a court case arguing that storm water systems are not the same as sewers, and thus need voter approval.

An April editorial in the Los Angeles Daily News argued that Hertzberg’s redefinition is an “attempt to evade the requirements of Proposition 218, which prevents local governments from calling taxes ‘fees’ to get around Proposition 13’s provision that two-thirds of voters must approve tax increases.” Hertzberg says that the bill, as it is currently written, has “a chilling effect on the ability for local government to manage their storm water.”

The topic of storm water management is a constant in California, especially now that the historic 5-year drought has ended. For example, earlier this month the Board of Supervisors in Los Angeles County voted to once again explore how to capture stormwater to protect against future droughts, according to the Redondo Beach Patch.

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