The Ojai Water Grab – What do you Know About the Risks and Costs?
Since 2011, political activists organized under the banner of Ojai FLOW have been circulating a petition urging the Casitas Municipal Water District (CMWD) to place a water bond before voters “not to exceed $33 million.” Why? To forcibly seize Golden State Water Company by eminent domain — private property not for sale.
But, now the plan has changed and it is far more costly!
Casitas MWD now wants voters to give them $60 million, nearly double Ojai FLOW’s promised maximum amount. This will cost some Ojai property owners over $2,000 a year with a 2% annual increase for at least 30 years, no matter how little water one uses.
Casitas MWD promises rate relief, but their tax plan doesn’t say anything about what they will charge now or in the future — and property taxes will be increased long before anyone knows if the Courts will even allow this water grab! If the plan fails, not only will Ojai residents pay, but so will existing Casitas MWD water customers.
Secret Casitas Documents Revealed!
5.14.13 – Casitas MWD has plans to use a Mello-Roos bond to finance the eminent domain taking of Golden State Water Company. The only other place in the State where this has occurred is Felton, California. Did Felton’s water grab result in lower water costs? No, according to internal documents drafted by the general manager of Casitas MWD. Click here to read the notes Ojai FLOW does not want you to see!
Can Mello-Roos be Used to Finance Eminent Domain?
4.4.13 – According to a lawsuit filed by Golden State Water Company, Mello-Roos bonds cannot be used to finance a forcible seizure by eminent domain! Why? Because Mello-Roos was intended “to provide developers and local governments with an alternative method to finance new facilities and services, such as roads, schools or parks in developing areas – not for the taking by eminent domain of existing facilities …” Click here to read the lawsuit.
Casitas MWD Approves Water Bond Plan (aka Water Grab)
3.14.13 – Now its up to voters to stop a water grab that is not only costly and risky, but according to FLOW leaders, does not guarantee lower water rates! Many residents made pleas to reject a plan that calls for higher property taxes (liens) for a sum yet to be determined! Unless voters put a stop to this risky plan, Casitas MWD will be given a blank check, secured by liens on private property, to expand their service area! Election to be held in August. Stay tuned for more information
Attorney Says Casitas Water Bond Plan “fraught with financial and legal risks”
3.14.13 – No surprise here, Casitas MWD ignored this sound advice! Here is what the Ventura County Star reported;
Ojai FLOW Now Says Original $33M Bond on Petition was Just for Pre-Acquisition!
3.8.13 – Ojai FLOW, confronted with facts from Ojai residents, backtracked to say that the $33M bond on the Ojai FLOW petition was just for pre-acquisition costs and not an estimate of how much it would cost to acquire Golden State.
BUT WAIT! In April 2011, Bob Daddi, Ojai FLOW Director, sat down for an interview with the Ojai Valley News and laid out what each dollar of the $33M bond would go toward – INCLUDING PRE-ACQUISITION ($4M), ACQUISITION ($19M) AND POST ACQUISITION COSTS ($10M)! Tell the Casitas MWD the plan they are considering on Wednesday is not the plan you signed up for!
Ojai FLOW’s Bait and Switch Petition – 100% of Signatures Deemed Invalid!
3.7.13 – California’s leading private property rights organization released a letter challenging Casitas Municipal Water District’s repeated assertion that their efforts to seize Golden State Water Company by eminent domain is only in response to a petition by Ojai residents.
At the January meeting of the water board, the Ventura County Star quoted board president Jim Word saying, “We are here this evening because we received 1,800 signatures from constituents. We are here in response to that.”
First and foremost, 1,939 individuals signed a petition that called for a water bond in an amount “not to exceed $33 million.” It was not characterized as “approximately $33 million” but rather a ceiling on the debt. Assuming voters support almost twice as much – $60 million – is wrong. Secondly, the plan on the petition charged high-volume water users a surcharge to cover the seizure, not a recurring lien on property held by homeowners and local businesses until 2052-53. Not one Ojai resident signed a petition for a $60 million water bond.
The Alliance contends that Casitas MWD and Ojai FLOW are doing a disservice to the community by originally campaigning on a less expensive plan, only to switch to a very different and much more expensive alternative one month prior to calling a special election.
The Alliance found that even if Ojai FLOW’s petition was for $60 million, some 20% were deemed invalid — most of which were not even registered to vote in the proposed Community Facilities District!
Click here to read our letter to Casitas MWD.