The Merc is covering a favorite topic here at the Voice--water, water usage, water rates, water.
In a case that could have statewide ramifications, a group of multimillionaire Hillsborough residents, including an early funder of Microsoft, has sued the town claiming that its drought rules and penalties intended to keep people from over-watering big lawns are illegal.
The nine residents who are taking the town to court say that by imposing tiered water rates, and a $30 penalty for each unit of water used over the allotted amount, Hillsborough water officials violated Proposition 218, a state law that makes it illegal for government to charge more for a service than it costs to provide.
The counterpoint is
“We’re in a drought,” said Paul Saffo, a Hillsborough resident, noted technology forecaster and engineer. “We have a short reprieve, but the fact is that this problem is only going to get worse, long term, and everybody has to pull together.”
And here are the numbers
Hillsborough clearly violated the law, the lawsuit says, because the city buys all of its water from the San Francisco Public Utilities District’s Hetch Hetchy system, and pays $1,633 per acre foot of water. That works out to be $3.75 per 100 cubic feet, or unit. But Hillsborough charges its residents $8.74 per unit for using up to 10 units a month, and gradually higher rates peaking at $17.36 a unit for usage over 100 units a month.