Now What? – How to take action against Water/Sewer Rate Increases

Over the last few weeks, we have heard from a number of GVCA members and residents in North Poway who are very concerned about the water and sewer rate increases identified in the Prop 218 notification which went out recently.  The new rates for water and sewer service amount to a combined increase of 20% for a typical north Poway property. On December 15th, City Council will vote to formally adopt the rate increases as described in the Prop 218 Notice. 

What You Can Do

1.  Contact elected officials in Sacramento where policies are being made that significantly impact our local water and sewer rates. 

2.  Send a formal protest to the City of Poway asking them to do the following in order to limit future increases:

  • Review how the City can better scale its water operations and capital improvements in light of the "new" normal water demand to reduce its operating costs and lessen rate increases year after year.
  • Assess if pass-through costs from other agencies are justified.
  • Have staff prepare an action plan for Poway to push back against these pass-through increases and join forces with other cities facing the same issue.  

According to the Poway City Clerk, written protest must include the following information:

  • A description of the protestor's property, such as the address or assessor’s parcel number; and
  • The name and original signature of the customer submitting the protest
  • City Council will consider all written and oral protests at this public hearing. Email nor oral comments will not qualify as formal protests.

Hand Delivered
Written protests can be submitted in person to the City Clerk’s Office at 13325 Civic Center Drive, Poway.

Sent via US Mail
City of Poway, Attn:  City Clerk, P.O. Box 789, Poway, CA  92074-0789

Submitted Protests must be received by the City Clerk’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. December 15, 2015. 

Submitted at the Council Hearing
Written protest can be submitted in writing in the Council Chambers before the Public Hearing is closed. 
NOTE: Last month, Poway City Council held a public workshop regarding the proposed rates. The GVCA addressed council with concerns regarding the new rates, the "temporary" surcharge, "pass-thru" cost, and the department's operating expenses. The workshop was sparsely attended by the public. We encourage all residents who are concerned about future increases to their water and sewer bills to become engaged in the public discussion BEFORE it reaches the Prop 218 phase.

Update: Stoneridge Country Club

As you may know, the StoneRidge Country Club property is for sale and the owner is considering his options. The property is currently zoned Open Space Recreational (OSR) and any change in land use would require a citywide Proposition FF vote by the citizens of Poway.

The GVCA met with the owner of StoneRidge Country Club upon his request. We suggested that he communicate any intentions he has for the property to the property owners contiguous to the StoneRidge golf course and to the community.

To our knowledge, no proposal has been presented or filed with the City for any land use change. If an official plan is proposed by the property owner, the GVCA will be diligent in ensuring that it is in the best interests of the community.  

In the meantime, we continue to keep an eye on the situation and will update our members as public information becomes available.


Update: Water and Sewer Rates

At Tuesday night's City Council Workshop meeting, council decided to proceed with the proposed water and sewer rate increases.  A public notice will be prepared and mailed to residents advising of a public hearing to adopt the new rates. The City's next meeting on this will be a hearing on December 15th at 7:00 pm at the City Council Chambers.  

The proposed water and sewer rates are:

  • 7.75% increase in the Water Commodity rate to $4.60 per unit (748 gallons) and $6.56 per unit for those using more than 200 units
  • $0.75 per unit "Drought Recovery" water surcharge, effectively making the rate $5.35 per unit up from the current $4.27 per unit
  • 8.75% increase in Water Meter Charge
  • 7.5% increase in Sewer Use rate
  • 8.75% increase in the Sewer Service Charge 

At the workshop meeting, the GVCA asked council to:   

  1. Review how the City can better scale its water operations and capital improvements in light of the "new" normal water demand to reduce its operating costs and lessen rate increases year after year.
  2. Assess if pass-through costs from other agencies are justified.
  3. Have staff prepare an action plan for Poway to push back against these pass-through increases and join forces with other cities facing the same issue.  
  4. Consider if the "Drought Recovery" surcharge is appropriate.
  5. Ensure that the Drought Recovery surcharge not become a permanent fee.

While Council considered our questions, they concluded that with the "new" normal water use Powegians will not see large increases in their bills since residents are using on average 36% less water. Council members were unanimous in their decision to include a sunset clause on the Drought Recovery surcharge to officially end in December 2018. We continue to encourage Council to push for new solutions for affordable and sustainable water and sewer service in the face of rising pass-through costs and water use restrictions from Sacramento.  

Noted below is the City of Poway water commodity cost per unit over the last 16 years. In the year 2000 water was $1.76 per unit compared to $5.35 per unit in 2016, a 7.2% annual rate of increase. Today's inflation adjusted rate would be about $2.56 per unit.  


What can be done? Tell Poway City Council what you think.

Water and sewer rates continue to rise as the City of Poway passes through costs for water and sewer charges to homeowners. Since 2004, our water rates have gone from $1.93 per unit to now a proposed $5.35 per unit. This Tuesday, October 20th at 7 pm, Poway City Council will discuss a staff report on recommendations to increase your water and sewer rates again:

  • 7.75% increase in the Water Commodity rate to $4.60 per unit (748 gallons) and $6.56 per unit for those using more than 200 units
  • Create a $0.75 per unit "Drought Recovery" water surcharge
  • 8.75% increase in Water Meter Charge
  • 7.5% increase in Sewer Use rate
  • 8.75% increase in the Sewer Service Charge 

So what do these increases mean to you? In total, these changes would increase the "typical" GVCA households bimonthly bill to $481 for an increase of $80 (see chart below). As we know, most households in the Green Valley area have larger yards, irrigated slopes, orchards and some even have large animals and are not the "typical" 20 unit water users the City discusses in the report.

Single-Family Residential Customer
Combined BiMonthly Water and Sewer Bill
(65 Units, 3/4-inch Meter, Tier 4) 

  • 61% of the cost is water is made up of water supply charges from the San Diego County Water Authority. The remaining 39% is the City's cost to operate our local water system.
  • 54% of the sewer rate is pass-through expenses from the City of San Diego Metropolitan Wastewater System. 
  • As we continue to cut back our water use, the price we pay will continue to rise due these pass-through increases and high fixed cost which are compounded by lower water sales revenue. 

We recognize this is a regional problem, but here are some of questions for City Council to consider:   

  1. How can the City reduce its operating costs to lessen rate increases year after year?
  2. Is the City adopting smart and fair water/sewer rates and policies for all ratepayers?
  3. Are the pass-through costs from the San Diego County Water Authority and the City of San Diego Metropolitan Wastewater System justified?
  4. What more can Poway do to push back against these pass-through increases? 
  5. What can be done to secure a long-term supply of water with a more stable price? 

What can you do? We strongly encourage you to submit your questions, concerns and suggestions to the Poway City Council at the meeting on Tuesday, October 20th, or by emailing them at

For more information on the proposed increases, go to:

An interview with one of GVCA’s first presidents Clay Perkins

Tell us about your background
I grew up in Austin, Texas, and received my Master’s degree in Physics in 1958 from the University of Texas Austin. I then moved to San Diego and married that same year. We had two children while living in Green Valley and now have three grandchildren. I am 80 years old.

How did you come to settle down in Poway?
In the early 1960s Poway was wide open and connected to San Diego only by a two-lane road (really). A great place for the money, where we could buy a lot and design our own house. Our biggest personal event in Green Valley was a tragedy: the great brush  re of 1967. Our home and about twenty other Poway houses were burned to the ground and many others damaged in a  re that started ten miles away in Ramona. We lived there another two years while building a new home in San Diego. We moved for business reasons, not because we wanted to leave beautiful Green Valley.

How and why did you become involved with the GVCA?
A budding interest in civic affairs, coupled with some local problems: under-grounding utilities, white striping the roads, lack of neighborly cohesiveness, for example. Back then, there were three developments, each not really wanting to cooperate with the others. They were (in decreasing size) the original Green Valley, Valle Verde to the west, and the much smaller Del Norte to the southwest. We had an association officially named “The Green Valley / Valle Verde Civic Association.” When I appeared before County Board of Supervisors, I always got a laugh with that name. One Supervisor once said that we had the longest name of any organization appearing before them.

What were the GVCA’s greatest accomplishments during your tenure?
It sounds minor, but the most important was changing our name. I started a quiet campaign pointing out the awkwardness of our redundant name, and how it made us look unprofessional. I met with the Valle Verde residents in particular and sympathized with their love of the beautiful Spanish name. This was a really big issue; we had the biggest meeting ever. I had organized speakers on both sides, but carefully hid my own feelings. And I had found a 19th Century map showing Green Valley creek originating in our valley; that helped a lot. The result was a majority vote among the Valle Verde folks for the name Green Valley, and thus few hard feelings. After I was thrown into the pool, I discovered that most people thought that I had opposed the change!

I was president for two or three years during which we formed a public utility district to sell bonds to fund the under grounding; and we white striped the roads, and we white striped the roads. No, that is not a typo. The county refused to stripe the roads because of our light traf c, so we paid the county to do so. That took some pushing. Then just weeks later they slurry-sealed the roads, covering up the lines. Boy, was I mad. After a lot of yelling and finger pointing, the county repainted the lines without charge. That we painted them, and then we painted them again, became a standing joke.

What awards have you won?
Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Texas. Election to honorary membership in the 509th Composite Group (the WWII atomic bombers). As such I attend annual reunions with the men who ended WWII. Although now deceased, the last three crew members of the Enola Gay were personal friends of mine. Also I was given a plaque of appreciation from the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (the WWII POW organization for the Paci c Theater). My wife Dorothy and I won the 2014 Los Alamos [NM] History Award.

What you would like to see happen in the future of our community?
Well, selfishly I would like to see it stay wide open, so I can gaze at and hike on other peo- ple’s land. Oh, wait that was 54 years ago; I’m too late. Heck, I don’t know anything about Poway today. Well, when I came to see my grandsons play football and lacrosse at Poway High, I greatly admired how the trees had grown. But I can hope that the future of Poway will bring happiness, prosperity, and cooperation.

I am delighted that GVCA has grown to what looks at a glance to be 20 times bigger than it was back then – and that you have not changed the name.

Honoring a remarkable man and leader

Earlier this summer, Poway lost one of its founding fathers and prominent 11-year president of GVCA, Bruce Tarzy, M. D.

Bruce was a tireless leader as one of the creators of Poway’s city charter and became one of the rst elected members of the rst City Council in 1980 where he served two terms with great distinction, including two years as Poway Mayor. Bruce’s nearly 40 years of civic leadership at enumerable city council meetings and committees dedicated to making and keeping Poway our beautiful city can only be appreciated by living here. Bruce was an ardent promoter of parks, roads, and community facilities while always seeking to enhance and preserve the quality of life we all share. He worked to

develop the Poway Performing Arts Center; Hilleary, Valle Verde, and Old Poway Parks; the Poway Community Pool; the Scripps Poway Parkway and Business Park; and access to the city via Twin Peaks Road and Ted Williams Parkway, to name only a few accomplishments. His watchful eye and guiding hand is visible on so many of the projects associated with our city. Bruce is survived by his loving wife Beth and son Ryan.

Thank you, Bruce. We all miss you – your smile, your leadership and your friendship. And for any Poway resident that did not know Bruce, you are living Bruce’s legacy. 

GVCA takes an active role in Poway Chamber of Commerce

We are pleased to announce that the GVCA has joined the Poway Chamber
of Commerce. GVCA board member Anita Edmondson is currently serving as an ex of cio member of the organization’s board of directors representing our association.

Over the last several years, the GVCA has partnered with the Poway Chamber to host candidates forums and we look forward to expanding our relationship with the organi- zation and serving as a voice in the business community.

The mission of the Poway Chamber of Commerce is “to strengthen prosperity for members and the business community by providing leadership, education and advocacy.” GVCA will take an active role in helping the chamber, its board of direc- tors, and members ful ll that mission.

Upcoming chamber activities include “Business Expo 2015” on October 29th and a golf outing in the spring of 2016.

For more information on the chamber, visit 

President's Message - Winter 2015

“GVCA | Green Valley Civic Association” - What’s in a Name?

When you break it down word for word, “Green Valley Civic Association” holds a lot of meaning – and purpose – for North Poway residents like you:

GREEN VALLEY refers to the northern area of the City of Poway. This name dates back to the 1800s when the area was actively farmed with avocado and citrus orchards and nicknamed “Green Valley” by local ranchers. The area now encompasses over 3,000 homes in the north corner of Poway.

CIVIC engagement or participation “is the encouragement of the general public to become involved
in the political process and the issues that affect them. It is the community coming together to be a collective source of change, political and non-political. Civic engagement is about the right of the people to define the public good, determine the policies by which they will seek the good, and reform or replace institutions that do not serve that good. Civic engagement can also be summarized as a means of working together to make a difference in the civil life of our communities. It means promoting a quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.” (

ASSOCIATION is an organization of people with a common purpose and having a formal structure. (

Put together, these words truly define the Green Valley Civic Association (GVCA) – a north Poway association of citizens, people like our members, who come together to make a difference in the quality of life in our community. We do not represent a single entity, a specific neighborhood, or one issue, but rather the interests of the whole north Poway community and our members.

To that end, we need YOUR voice, YOUR support, and YOUR civic action to be fully effective. 

GVCA thanks Don Higginson for 28 years of service as Mayor and Councilman

Don Higginson was elected to the Poway City Council in 1986 at a time when our City was still establishing its identity. Clearly the citizens of Poway wanted to retain the rural flavor of the Community, but they also needed leadership to develop priorities for Poway’s future and to use the power of the recently approved Redevelopment Agency and Poway Business Park to help build a strong financial base. They also required leadership that would ensure wise use of Poway’s funds to develop the infrastructure that would make our City more livable. 28 years later, as both Mayor and Councilmember, Don Higginson met those leadership challenges.

Affable and congenial but not flashy or contentious, Don worked hard, often behind the scenes, to help Poway grow while protecting our core values. He was not afraid to take on battles, but preferred diplomacy to confrontation. His votes reflected his view of what he thought was right for the citizens of Poway, and not necessarily because they might make him more popular. Don successfully balanced his Council time with the demands of a being a husband and father and the demands of a busy career.

Don leaves Poway government with a City that is the pride of San Diego County. The GVCA wishes to thank him for his service and hopes that he will continue to find ways to use his talents for the betterment of our Community.