Officials heard comments Wednesday about the formation of Santa Clarita Valley’s new water agency, including a request by the agency’s general manager for more time to define its sphere of influence.
The Local Agency Formation Commission for Los Angeles – or L.A.’s LAFCO, the group mandated to review proposed annexations such as the recent water boards’ – held a public hearing in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room in Los Angeles to begin reviewing a plan drawn up by the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency to deliver water throughout the SCV in three defined areas, called divisions.
Commissioners heard from of couple of concerned SCV residents and also from officials at the helm of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency.
After close to 45 minutes of public debate and a review of what the state expects of both the SCV Water Agency and LAFCO, it was revealed that the two agencies agreed on all but one item: the time it takes to define its water service areas, or its “sphere of influence.”
LAFCO wants the water agency to complete its municipal service review, which involves studying services within a designated geographic area, in this case water service, by April 2019.
Matt Stone, general manager of SCV Water, wants until 2021 to complete that assessment.
A municipal service review takes account of a number of services provided in a newly annexed area such as population growth and existing facilities, all of which could affect service delivery.
Out of 22 conditions mapped out by LAFCO as expectations and guidelines for the water agency, the SCV Water officials countered with 13 suggested modifications.
“And, on our plate, for next year or two are pretty considerable efforts to finish requirements of the legislation,” he said, making particular note of expectations for example, to develop rate payer advocacy.
“Our thought is that the timing would be better institutionally if we had a few years of operation under our belt,” Stone said.
“We propose 2021 as the date to enter into an Memorandum of Understanding (on the MSR),” he said.
Commissioners also heard from a couple of people unhappy with the annexations laid out by the SCV Water Agency.
Lynne Plambeck, a director on the board of SCV Water, spoke on behalf of herself and not the agency.
“I have a few things to add to the conditions,” she told commissioners. “I still don’t support it (annexation) because I think there’s some huge issues, the white areas of the (annexation) map that will now be automatically in the agency.
“Those (white areas) are huge developments that would have normally gone through a water supply assessment process, an annexation process and an SB 634 process, “ she said.
“Now they (processes) have been completed avoided. And, while this in some ways may be better for water management in the valley, it is allowing these huge developments to slip through without adequate review.
“And, we really have some big problems,” she noted. “We’ve had a huge drop in water supply.
“Everything works better with review,” Plambeck said. “Everything works better when you can compare both sides.
“They (developers) will be able to have water sent to them without review because, all of sudden, they got into the district.
“It benefits one large developer in our valley,” she said, without naming the developer.
After the public meeting, LAFCO Executive Officer Paul Novak told The Signal his job was to compile all these comments and come back in a month.
The next LAFCO meeting is scheduled for Apr. 11.
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