Bev­erly Hills wa­ter cops

Coun­cil agrees to en­act tough new re­stric­tions on waste with fines up to $1,000.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Matt Stevens

The Bev­erly Hills City Coun­cil has cracked down on wa­ter waste, agree­ing to en­act a slew of new rules aimed at slash­ing the city’s con­sump­tion amid an un­re­lent­ing drought.

Un­der the re­quire­ments, which the coun­cil is ex­pected to for­mally pass May 5, wa­ter wasters could be fined up to $1,000 for drain­ing and re­fill­ing ex­ist­ing swim­ming pools, wash­ing cars at home us­ing drink­able wa­ter or wa­ter­ing more than two days a week.

In ad­di­tion, the vast ma­jor­ity of the city’s res­i­dents would have to cut their us­age by 30% com­pared with the same billing cy­cle the pre­vi­ous year. The city’s low­est wa­ter users would be ex­empt from that spe­cific man­date.

Bev­erly Hills is un­der in­tense pres­sure to cut its wa­ter use by 36% by the end of Fe­bru­ary. The city is among dozens of ur­ban wa­ter sup­pli­ers that have been pre­lim­i­nar­ily in­structed to cut that much to help the state meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s or­der re­quir­ing a 25% statewide re­duc­tion in wa­ter use.

Bev­erly Hills res­i­dents have for months been among the state’s high­est wa­ter users, and un­til Tues­day, of­fi­cials had em­pha­sized ed­u­ca­tion rather than penal­ties.

Bev­erly Hills Mayor Ju­lian Gold said in a state­ment that new tech­nol­ogy and ed­u­ca­tion would re­main a big part of the city’s pro­gram, but also ac­knowl­edged: “We are in a cri­sis sit­u­a­tion with the drought, and Bev­erly Hills is determined to meet the new wa­ter con­ser­va­tion goals.”

“We will eval­u­ate our progress on a regular ba­sis and make ad­just­ments to our con­ser­va­tion pro­gram as needed,” Gold said.

For more than two hours Tues­day, the City Coun­cil dis­cussed three pro­posed sets of tighter wa­ter­ing re­stric­tions. The city’s Public Works Com­mis­sion had rec­om­mended that the coun­cil adopt its most strin­gent pro­posal — Stage D. That stage would have pe­nal­ized cus­tomers who failed to make their cuts with a sur­charge of up to 10 times the nor­mal wa­ter rate.

Af­ter dis­cussing a re­cent court de­ci­sion on the le­gal­ity of tiered rates, the coun­cil ul­ti­mately set­tled on a mod­i­fied ver­sion of Stage D that would es­tab­lish a penalty sur­charge specif­i­cally based on the cost of pro­vid­ing the higher vol­ume of wa­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to a pre­pared state­ment: “Anal­y­sis on the tiered penalty rate will be com­pleted over the next cou­ple of months to en­sure com­pli­ance with state law.”

“We def­i­nitely char­ac­ter­ize [the plan] as strict,” city spokes­woman Therese Koster­man said Wed­nes­day. “Wa­ter con­ser­va­tion mat­ters, and we’re one of the first cities out there that is re­spond­ing to the new state wa­ter board re­stric­tions. We think it’s a pretty strong pro­gram.”

matt.stevens@la­times.com Times staff writer Matt Hamil­ton con­trib­uted to this re­port

Mel Mel­con

A GAR­DENER wa­ters the lawn of a home in Bev­erly Hills, where most res­i­dents will have to cut their wa­ter use 30%. “Bev­erly Hills is determined to meet the new wa­ter con­ser­va­tion goals,” the mayor says.

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