At the request of Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, the
Orange County Transportation Authority is evaluating whether to open
carpool lanes to solo motorists during off-peak hours. This comes at
a time when Caltrans and OCTA are planning to expand the 241-mile
network of carpool lanes.
Carpool lanes were introduced to attract solo motorists to carpool
and thus reduce air pollution. According to census data between 1990
and 2000 the percentage of Orange County workers carpooling declined.
Will the OCTA and Caltrans evaluation consider the reduction in
capacity from increased weaving required to reach the carpool lanes?
Will the benefits be measured for all motorists or only those that
carpool? What would the OCTA and Caltrans evaluators do if no more
carpool lanes were to be built? Would an independent evaluation
produce different results? Will anything change?
Contracts for Laguna waste collection and the fire attack goats
have been with the same contractors for years. Without rebidding, how
would anyone know this is best price for Laguna? What is the method
of evaluation? Will anything change?
To increase the amount of money that is needed to repair the sewer
system, after years of neglect, the city sent out a letter in August
2000 to each property owner describing the proposed increase. Since
50% of the property owners did not protest in writing, the new rate
was added to your property bill. No vote was required.
This year the rates were raised again and will go up over 20% over
the next two years. Without a change in the fee procedure a single
couple living in a house zoned R2 (two residences) will pay about
$700 in sewer fees per year while a couple in a larger home with 10
bath rooms would pay half as much. When the Council was discussing
raising the sewer fees the first time they seemed to favor sewer
rates based on some form of water usage. Two years later the council
still seems to have the same desire to make sewer charges relate as
close as possible to amount of usage.
A city analysis of water usage fee basis for sewer fees was made
available in April 2. One of the five options presented was “Hire a
consulting firm specializing in water and sewer rate structures to
complete a comprehensive analysis.” Any changes in the existing rate
methodology would take approximately one year to implement we were
told. Will a consulting firm specializing in water and sewer rates be
hired? After three years will anything change?
To a staff request in the proposed budget to purchase a new street
sweeper the City Council directed staff to come back with a more
comprehensive report, including a comparison of vacuum and mechanical
sweepers and an evaluation of the pros and cons of contracting-out
this operation. Firms, including a Laguna firm, that provide sweeping
are listed in the yellow pages. Staff response was a preliminary
study had been done several years ago and contractors were
substantially more expensive than performing the same operation with
city crews. Did the previous study take real bids? Would additional
room at the corporate yard, now used to store a sweeper, benefit the
Festival of Arts and Playhouse? Why didn’t the city take bids from
outside contractors to get real numbers? Will anything change? Just
* GARY ALSTOT contributes regularly to the Coastline Pilot
community forum page.