Before the Crescenta Valley Water District, which serves some western La Cañada Flintridge households, draws the mistaken conclusion that residents support the soon-to-be-enacted 16.6% sewer rate hike because only 15 letters of protest were submitted, let's look at some of the reasons for the seemingly scant opposition.
About a month ago the agency sent its customers a Public Notice of Proposed Increase in Wastewater Rates advising us that opponents “...may file a written protest of the proposed rate changes by sending a letter to CVWD (at its address on Foothill Boulevard).” We were also told that “A valid protest letter must include your name, your CVWD service address, a statement of protest and an original signature.” Sounds pretty straightforward right, so what's the problem?
The fact is almost nobody sends snail mail with a 45-cent postage stamp anymore in this era of email. Furthermore, customers would have had to read three more paragraphs to learn they could contact the district by email “to answer your questions or need any additional information.” No mention was made that a protest letter could be sent by email.
This may seem like a minor bone of contention, but the point is the announcement omitted the easiest, least expensive and most convenient way for customers to weigh in on the proposed increase — and resulted in only 16 responses (one favored the increase) out of about 7,000 residential customers affected by the rate hike. And nowhere was it mentioned that 50% of its customers would have to oppose the increase for it to be stopped.
No wonder the public failed to make our voices heard. It seems the illusion of public approval is more important than a sincere and simple way for hard-pressed water and sewer customers to react to a sizable rate increase. Oh, by the way, the public hearing was held the day after Labor Day, when many local residents were still unavailable due to vacation commitments. Coincidence? I don't think so.