Matthew G. Stone | Letter Distorted Water Issue

Letters to the Editor
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Re: The facts about SCV Water’s community facilities district policy.

In a recent letter (Stacy Fortner, Aug. 20), SCV Water was characterized as “promoting” the proposed Spring Canyon Development. SCV Water is not a land use planning or approval authority, nor does it promote development. Our focus is on planning and implementing water facilities and sources to serve the needs of our community. Development planning and approvals take place within either the county or city jurisdiction, with review generally through a planning commission and approval ultimately through the governing body (City Council or Board of Supervisors). New development must also adhere to federal, state and local codes and standards. 

 I should point out Spring Canyon has a history that goes back well before the formation of SCV Water. It is within the former Newhall County Water District service area and planning for the water and sewer infrastructure requirements were undertaken between the developer and NCWD. Part of the terms negotiated by NCWD included developer obligations to relocate a troublesome section of NCWD sewer from within the Santa Clara River bed, planned street improvements, a new sewage lift station, and upgrades to an existing sewage lift station to meet current standards. These measures would address and reduce the risk of sewage mishaps in the riverbed. They would also facilitate eventual transfer of these sewer facilities to the city of Santa Clarita, which owns and operates these types of facilities. Water improvements included a pump station, storage reservoir and interconnections with NCWD’s existing system. These would add resilience to the water distribution network for existing and future customers. 

SCV Water has received requests from different developers to consider financing of developer-funded water facilities using a community facilities district (CFD). Spring Canyon was one such project. Rather than take each request separately without an underlying policy, the SCV Water board first developed a CFD policy that could be applied to each proposal. This policy was completed in February and included several provisions and limitations including: 

• Another public agency must be the PRIMARY administrator of the CFD, not SCV Water. This could be a school district, the city or county, or one of the state-sponsored infrastructure financing authorities established to perform this function. 

• CFDs cannot be used to finance water capacity fees (these must be paid by the builder). 

• The board must determine that there is a benefit to our customers (an example might be relocation of a sewer line from the riverbed to a roadway). 

• The developer must pay SCV Water’s costs related to initiating participation in the CFD, including any consultant or legal costs. 

• SCV Water’s ongoing administrative costs for participation must be paid by the CFD. 

The Spring Canyon CFD proposal has not yet been considered by the SCV Water board. However, the Finance and Administration Committee considered proposals for three levels of facilities and costs and recommended the lowest of the three, which focuses on offsite sewer improvements and lift stations, and addition of a new water pump station and storage reservoir. Remaining water facilities would be funded by the developer. The CFD would be administered by the California Municipal Finance Authority. 

The letter infers that SCV Water is somehow responsible for approval or disapproval of development in fire hazard zones. A significant portion of our community is in or near a fire hazard zone, and by one estimate, one in four Californians live in a fire hazard zone. Defensible space, evacuation routes and fire-hardening structures are important measures, as are adequate firefighting resources, but they are not within SCV Water’s scope of oversight or regulation.  

SCV Water’s CFD policy was developed to provide a rational framework for the board to consider future developer requests to finance new developer-constructed water facilities in CFDs. However, the application of SVC Water’s CFD policy is not the appropriate means to perform the city or county development planning and approval function. 

Matthew G. Stone

General Manager, SCV Water

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