BB&K In the News Feb 27, 2015

San Juan Capistrano Case Challenges Legality of Tiered Water Rates

Partner Kelly Salt Quoted by the L.A. Times on Proposition 218's Role in Water Rate Setting

In drought-ridden California, many water bills are calculated using a basic principle: The more water a customer uses, the higher the rate. It's a strategy water districts employ to boost conservation.

But this long-standing practice is now under attack in the courts. A group of San Juan Capistrano taxpayers sued their local water provider, arguing the tiered rate structure violates state law that prohibits agencies from charging more than water actually costs — no matter how much customers use.

A lower court decided in their favor, and an appeals court is expected to rule soon. The outcome could change how millions of customers pay for water and eliminate a tool water agencies argue is critical to encourage conservation.

"People will definitely be looking over their shoulder," said Kelly Salt, a Proposition 218 expert based in San Diego who wrote an amicus brief defending the city of San Juan Capistrano. "Attorneys will be emboldened to go do this for other clients."

To read the full article in the Los Angeles Times, which ran Feb. 27, 2015, click here.

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