“San Diegans are doing everything they can to save water, and you know what their reward is? Their rewards are more fines and higher water rates," said DeMaio, who is now a radio talk show host. DeMaio says people can simply say no, but they need to pay attention to their mail about a Notice of Public Hearing from the city.
“It doesn’t say election, ballot, vote. What it says is 'Notice of Public Hearing.' No one understands what that means, so they throw it away. You just threw away your vote in this very important election., DeMaio said.
In August, amid California’s severe drought, Gov. Jerry Brown sat with San Diego leaders and praised San Diegans for meeting state conservation targets. The City of San Diego alone has cut water use by 26 percent since May 2013, which is more than the 16 percent mandated by the state. Despite that, San Diegans will be paying more for water.
“California is the 7th largest economy or 8th largest economy in the world, and we have to invest in our water, our energy and our road. So yeah, it costs some money, but the quality of life is about as high as you can get anywhere in the world," Brown said.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council want to increase water rates by nearly 40% over the next four years, with the biggest increases coming in the next 12 months. Demaio says San Diego residents can stop these rate hikes.
“The City of San Diego has an election going on, and it’s an unfair election, because if you don’t return your ballot it’s counted as a yes vote in favor of a water rate increase," said DeMaio.
“We’re finding that our money is actually going to a bureaucracy that has not gone through cost saving reforms, and our money is going to purchases like land at Qualcomm to support an NFL stadium. These are troubling questions that need to be answered first before you ask working families in San Diego to pay more," DeMaio added.
The form must be mailed and signed before the end of the day of the City’s public hearing on Nov. 17. If too few people sign and send in the forms, the rate increase will take effect on Jan. 1.
If a majority of San Diego residents sign the official city rate protest form, the mayor and City Council will be barred from increasing rates. Access the form here: http://www.sandiego.gov/water/pdf/rates/151117hearing.pdf
Anyone who pays a water bill can sign a rate protest form. If enough do, the rate hike is suspended for all.
DeMaio also has his own petition, which residents can sign here: http://www.kogo.com/onair/demaioreport-56776/