OCEANSIDE — Mobile home residents and others living in master-metered communities may soon see a change in their water bill. In most cases monthly charges will be reduced, some by as much as $13.32. In other instances, rates will increase by 77 cents a month.
On Sept. 20, City Council unanimously approved a new way of gauging compound master-meters that provide water for multiple single-family homes and fire hydrants in those communities.
Compound meters have two dials. One measures high volume water flow used in firefighting efforts. The other dial measures lower water flow used by households.
The city found there were inconsistencies in customer charges. It will now bill master-meter customers’ rates based on the smaller meter.
Size does matter. The rate for a 6-inch meter is three times that of a 3-inch meter.
Residents of the Oceana community have been in discussions with the city about water rates since master-meters were refitted to ensure they met water flow requirements for firefighting.
Oceana homeowners said they were being charged for the incorrect meter size in November 2016, during City Council discussion of a rate hike to increase customers’ bills by $1.75 to $2.75 a month, effective January 2017.
The result of post-meeting discussions between the city and housing community is the adopted overhaul of how the city charges its 25 master-meter accounts. New rates will decrease affected customers’ water payments by $165,000 annually and provide fairer charges.
“It’s taken quite a bit of time for us to come up with a policy,” Cari Dale, city water utilities director, said. “They’ll be a savings on 22 accounts.”
Councilman Jack Feller said it was a good decision.
Continued water rate increases have been hard-felt by seniors on a fixed income, which is most of the population of master-meter communities. Seniors have repeatedly shared about their efforts to cut down on water use and frustration to receiving rising bills.
While water charges may be higher than most would like, Oceanside is below the regional average in customer rates.
New master-meter rates will go into effect in 30 days. Water customers with questions are advised to contact their homeowners’ association.
Mayor Jim Wood was absent from the Sept. 20 meeting due to a medical leave. Councilwoman Esther Sanchez was also not in attendance.
The three council members present unanimously passed the introduction of a zoning amendment to allow multiple-family housing by right in the city’s downtown.
Formerly, proposed multiple-family housing developments were required to be part of a mixed-used project that included retail for approval.
The goal of the introduced amendment is to accommodate multi-family development along North Freeman Street and Neptune Way, which is an existing residential corridor. Density allowance for development is 43 units per acre.
Staff notes said numerous property owners have asked the city to expand residential properties or proceed with multi-family developments in areas that do not front North Coast Highway, are not visible to traffic and would have limited commercial activity. The zoning change would allow such development.
There were no public comments on the item.