In a special meeting Wednesday, the Community Services District board followed the state lead and loosened its irrigation restrictions to allow three-times-a-week landscape watering. The board also appointed a representative to a county committee on development, an appointment that followed questions about whether the meetings will be public – they won't – and a bit of wrangling over who would be named to the committee.
Change in community watering schedules
The irrigation change, which takes effect immediately, allows the North to water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The South, Murieta Village and commercial properties can water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The allowed watering time is between midnight and 10 a.m. The community goal is a voluntary 10 percent conservation rate.
Last week, the state Water Resources Control Board modified its emergency drought regulations, returning control back to the local water agencies to determine the amount of conservation needed.
The CSD will have to report its conservation efforts and results to the state in December, General Manager Darlene Gillum said.
The board voted unanimously to repeal the Stage 2 water shortage resolution adopted last year and move to Stage 1. Gillum said the board will soon be asked to change the North and South watering schedule to an odd-even plan according to a property’s address. This would allow the water system to operate more efficiently, staff said.
Stage 1 continues with a number of water-use restrictions, such as flooding landscaping, washing a car without a shut-off nozzle, using water on driveways and sidewalks. You can see the CSD's conservation measures in the board packet attachment at the end of this story.
Getting CSD involved with development meetings
The county is putting together a series of development meetings and inviting stakeholders, including the developers, area ranchers, the Rancho Murieta Association, Country Club and the Saving Our Lakes & Open Spaces (SOLOS) group, which has criticized current development plans.
Director Betty Ferraro, who serves as the board vice president, volunteered to be the CSD representative, telling Jerry Pasek, board president, “Well, I worked on some of this; I would like to continue on, if that’s possible. You can see if anybody else wants to.”
When Pasek asked if another director was interested, Morrison Graf spoke up. “I’m familiar with the process, so I can probably add some value,” he said. Graf is retired after three decades in the construction industry.
Pasek made a motion to nominate Graf, “given his other background.” Director Mike Martel seconded the nomination to allow discussion and immediately said, “I’m really curious. ... I look at the people that are invited; it doesn’t make sense to me.”
He described SOLOS as “a political action committee that has no authority.” He asked if the meetings were open to the public, adding, “I don’t understand how it could be not open to the public.”
General Manager Darlene Gillum said Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, who contacted CSD about the meetings, doesn’t intend for the sessions to be public. She said MacGlashan wants all the shareholders around the table at the same time, so they’re able to hear the same things.
When told the committee was “advisory,” Martel asked, “How does SOLOS get invited to a meeting that’s advisory?”
“Because they are part of our community, and they are very vocal,” said Ferraro. Answered Martel: “So are Democrats, Republicans, independents....” Ferraro: “(MacGlashan) wants to try to make everyone also included. It’s not a political thing. It’s trying to get information so that we can later disseminate that out to the community.”
Said Pasek, “My view is, this committee, advisory as it is, is more to kind of keep the antagonists at bay. By letting them participate in the discussion, then they can’t yell from the sidelines; they can yell at that meeting.”
Pasek said the CSD will expect a public report on the meetings from its representatives.
In an email exchange, Cheryl McElhany, president of SOLOS, said that group favors closing the meetings because similar development meetings open to the public a decade ago yielded nothing useful.
“We are hoping for a better result than in 2005,” she wrote Thursday. “As you know, SOLOS is hoping to get all involved interested in finding a way to create a preserve around our lakes and trails. Such conversations are hard to get started in large group settings. This will be our best shot at getting the concept in front of all for some serious consideration. Any actions or agreements that might come about would most certainly be shared at the RMA or CSD regular meetings. It's going to take a few meetings for sure just to loosen everyone up and get the dialogue going.”
In a separate email exchange, MacGlashan said she didn’t express a preference that the meetings be closed, but she said the planned approach “assures that all interests will be represented and that discussion can occur in a much more informal setting than formal public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.”
The meetings are not required to be a public under the Brown Act, she said, adding that county staff will release “comprehensive” meeting minutes for public distribution.
As for the CSD’s committee representative, Ferraro challenged Pasek’s nomination of Graf: “I’ve got seniority. I’ve got the knowledge of the workings within the county because I’ve done it. (Graf’s) coming on new, so I’m questioning your reasoning.”
Pasek didn’t respond. With Director Mark Pecotich absent, the vote was 3-1 to appoint Graf. Ferraro voted no.
The meeting lasted 20 minutes. Only development representative John Sullivan was in the audience.
From the archives:
- RMA won’t take part in county talks on Murieta development (Jan. 19, 2005)
- CSD, like RMA, won’t participate in county development talks (Jan. 22, 2005)
- County meetings on development end, with little agreement reached (April 13, 2005)