Sierra Madre places Moratorium on building
By SHEL SEGAL
A resolution to increase water conservation efforts and one that places a moratorium on building within the city that requires a water service connection were unanimously passed by the Sierra Madre City Council at its Tuesday night meeting.
The resolution – which asks residents to conserve 30 percent over their 2012 totals – came just as Sierra Madre customers found out they conserved just 12.7 percent of water in fiscal year 2013-14 over the past year, said Bruce Inman, the city’s public works director.
Inman added that figure was well below the 20 percent that was currently mandated by the city.
And while the 30 percent is being asked of all water customers, no penalties were passed for those who exceed the amount.
Council Member Rachelle Arizmendi said after the hearing that despite not having any monetary penalties for overuse of water, the resolution is very pertinent.
“It still has teeth because what it does is it still allows for no additional water hookups,” Arizmendi said. “Of course, we’re going to have to look at penalties to look at if that’s something we want to include. But there will be no additional water meters.”
She added while the ordinances could bring litigation to the city’s front door, she really doesn’t see it happening.
“Possibly, but I think the way the ordinances are written and the purposes in why we put the ordinances and resolutions together that they’re strong enough,” Arizmendi said. “And it is about public safety.”
However, attorney Francisco Nicholas, who represents developer CETT Corporation – the developer of the Stonegate project in town, seemed to disagree with Arizmendi – and the entire council – saying there was no water crisis in town.
“We’re opposed to all that is being discussed tonight in terms of the ordinances, in terms of the moratoriums,” Nicholas said during the hearing. “We are opposed to the building moratorium as it affects (CETT Corporation). At the base of all that is the determination that there is a water shortage emergency. It is our position that there is none.”
Resident Allen Graves asked that the council look into the financial ramifications of passing the ordinances before making its decision.
“(There’s) lost revenue,” Graves said. “All three of the agenda items that we’re considering would impose a moratorium on permits with new water connections … No one’s given us a hint as to how much money we’re going to lose.”
But most residents echoed the sentiment of Bill Peet, who asked that the ordinances be passed in the name of water conservation. He added too many Sierra Madre residents overwater their lawns and waste water.
“These people could cut their water use – or waste – by at least 30 percent,” Peet said. “Lawns are appropriate for places, like England or the tropics, where supplemental water use is unnecessary. But this is characteristic of desert rainfall, which is under 10 inches last season. And lawns waste water.”
(Shel Segal can be reached at email@example.com. He can be followed via Twitter @segallanded.)