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Lawsuit Hearing to Stop Santa Cruz Desal Project Set
by Paul Gratz
Wednesday Jul 17th, 2013 11:26 PM
On Thursday, July 25 8:30 AM environmental, ratepayer; and First Amendment activist Mike Boyd will appear at a hearing in Santa Cruz County Superior Court Room #5 to seek to amend his complaint to halt the regional desal project by seeking to add additional supporting exhibits and two Declarations.

Lawsuit Hearing to Stop Santa Cruz Desal Project Set for Thurs., July 25 8:30 AM. Mike Boyd’s Legal Challenge Linked to the Overwhelming Passage of Measure P.


On Thursday, July 25 8:30 AM environmental, ratepayer; and First Amendment activist Mike Boyd will appear at a hearing in Santa Cruz County Superior Court Room #5 to seek to amend his complaint to halt the regional desal project by seeking to add additional supporting exhibits and two Declarations.

One Declaration is from Paul Gratz, a co-author of the City of Santa Cruz right to vote of desal Measure P, approved by over 72% in the November 2012 election. The other Declaration is from William Smallman, a Lompico Water District board member and professional engineer; who offers several viable alternatives to seawater desal is his "Santa Cruz County Water Conservation, Storage, and Pollution Control Improvement Plan". Also, the plaintiff seeks to amend his complaint to add two additional claims dealing with the California Public Records Act and the Ralph M. Brown Open Meeting Act. Members of the community and news media representatives may attend the court session.

On March 1, Mr. Boyd, a Soquel Creek Water District ratepayer, filed a lawsuit to stop water rate and service charge increases previously authorized as well as any further expenditures for the proposed seawater desal project and related bonds approved on that basis until water district and city residents vote. The lawsuit challenges the ongoing use of public funds to pursue desal and claims elected officials are violating the law. More: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_22726243/soquel-man-files-lawsuit-halt-desal-funding-rate

As a result of the passage of Measure the City Charter was amended to add Section 1431 “Voter Approval for Desalination Projects” prohibiting expenditures authorized subsequent to July 2, 2012 for project implementation without first obtaining voter approval.

Boyd is President of the non-profit corporation CAlifornians for Renewable Energy, Inc. (CARE) and former Director of the Goleta West Sanitary District and the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District in Santa Barbara . He is knowledgeable about Santa Barbara’s desal plant boondoggle (http://scwd2desal.org/In_the_News_10-06-12a.php) and has an extensive background in protecting free speech, civil rights, environmental defense, social justice, transparency in government, and ratepayer rights.


Michael Boyd can be contacted at michaelboyd [at] sbcglobal.net
Soquel Creek Water District Board President Tom LaHue’s March 10th 2013 guest column "Our hidden and threatened water supply" provides a false impression by writing that "district board of directors will not make a decision about constructing that project until we have reviewed the environmental impact report and received public input." In fact, the District's expenditure of $4,248,216 is dedicated to pursue the development of a proposed desalination project to be located in the City of Santa Cruz.

Under the state constitution ratepayers can not be charged for a service they do not receive. The services must be used and usable, otherwise, they are subject to two thirds voter approval as a type of tax. The Water District can not receive water service from the City without forming a joint powers authority with the City or by first filing an Application for Extraterritorial Service to the Local Agency Formation Commission [LAFCO].

This staggering expenditure coupled with President LaHue’s statement demonstrates the District's aim for a predetermined environmental impact report outcome in claiming that "[a] combination of additional water conservation and desalination is currently the only option that would provide a sufficient, safe and sustainable source of water supply to supplement our reduced groundwater availability…"

Moreover, the City of Santa Cruz’s involvement in such advocacy violates the rights of the voters who overwhelmingly passed Proposition P and District water ratepayers who could not vote at all. Public policy and activities to fund a pilot desalination plant, various studies on intake, energy, brine discharge, plant and infrastructure design, permit planning, and the pursuit of grants as well as the hiring of marketing and lobbying firms are for the single sole purpose of advancing and pre-committing the Water District and the City towards desalination project certification and approval.

The lack of impartial analysis along with the constant advocacy for the preferred desalination project option over all others for new regional water supplies is to the exclusion of other feasible and appropriate options including a combination of regional watershed restoration, aquifer recharge and storage, surplus water transfers and stream diversions during wet periods, and wastewater reuse.

The actions taken by the District and City should be characterized as political advocacy and promotion as opposed to informational and transparent.

Under California law, local governments and public agencies are strictly prohibited from engaging in political advocacy using public resources. They may make statements of an informational nature, provided they are factual and impartial.

The right to petition and to sue the government is protected under the First Amendment. Recently, I filed litigation against the District and the City of Santa Cruz asking the Superior Court for a "Declaratory Order ordering the water rate and service charge increases any previously authorized or further expenditures on the proposed seawater desalination project and 2013 bonds approved on that basis be put before the District's and City's voters."


Michael E. Boyd is President of the non-profit corporation CAlifornians for Renewable Energy, Inc. (CARE) a former Director of the Goleta West Sanitary District and the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District in Santa Barbara County California and he is a Soquel Creek Water District ratepayer. His case filed in the Santa Cruz County Superior Court March 1, 2013 is CV176348.
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Very interesting!GThursday Jul 18th, 2013 11:07 AM