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PORT HUENEME : Builders to Pay for Water-Saving Steps

The Port Hueneme City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance that will make developers pay for water-saving fixtures in existing public and private buildings.

The ordinance, introduced in May to offset the effect of new construction on waning water supplies, requires developers to pay a $2,565 fee for each housing unit they seek to build. That money would finance the refitting of nearly four existing residences with ultra low-flow toilets, faucets and shower heads.

The city would assess fees on industrial and commercial projects based on the new buildings’ projected water use.

The city faces drastic reductions in its Oxnard Plain ground-water allocation because of the five-year drought.

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Other water-poor cities such as Camarillo, Ojai and Oxnard have considered similar programs.

The Central Coast communities of Morro Bay and Santa Barbara have already refitted up to half of their housing stock.

But the Port Hueneme proposal drew objections from builders, who have been promoting a rival ordinance that would require property owners to install the fixtures when they sell their property.

Port Hueneme Community Development Director Thomas Figg said the city estimates that refitting will cost an average of $669 per house for parts and labor. Residents will contract to have the work done themselves and then apply to the city for a rebate, Figg said.

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Port Hueneme has already required that the developers of two 30-unit townhouse projects put aside $60,000 to pay for refitting the city’s 180 public housing units.

Figg, who drafted the ordinance, said it is far less burdensome on developers than the Morro Bay ordinance, which made developers participate in a refitting program between 1985 and 1989 but now has a building moratorium. Developers had to refit 20 residences for every one that they sought to build.

Ojai Planning Director Bill Prince said his city has looked at refitting on a case-by-case basis so far, but said a citywide ordinance could be enacted in the future.


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