City Manager Jim Keene appointed an 11-member Blue Ribbon Committee to advise the City Council on the future of the City’s Storm Drain Program. The Committee, consisted of residents from throughout the community with varying interests and areas of expertise, met regularly with staff from February through mid-April to review the current status of the Storm Drain Program, study and prioritize future needs, and recommend a set of storm drain capital projects and programs for the coming years along with a funding plan. The Committee’s recommendations were forwarded to the City Council in late spring 2016 for formal consideration.
The City’s Storm Drain Program is funded through user fees collected on monthly utility bills and deposited into the Storm Drainage Fund, an enterprise fund independent of the City’s General Fund. Program elements include ongoing storm drain system maintenance, storm water quality protection, and implementation of storm drain capital improvements.
Storm drain fees are subject to the provisions of Proposition 218, which requires that new or increased property-related fees be approved by local property owners. The current storm drain rate structure was established in 2005 through a ballot-by-mail measure approved by a majority of property owners. Under the terms of the ballot measure, the current fees are set to sunset in June 2017 to their pre-2005 level unless a new ballot measure is approved.
Enhanced funding for the Storm Drain Program will continue to be needed in future years due to ongoing and new needs. Staff completed an update to the City’s Storm Drain Master Plan in 2015 which identified a number of storm drain system infrastructure improvement projects needed to improve the system’s ability to convey storm runoff and prevent street flooding during large storm events. In addition, a new regional storm water discharge permit adopted by the State’s Regional Water Quality Control Board in late 2015 mandates a number of new requirements for controlling storm water pollutants, including trash, mercury, and PCBs as well as other pollutants generated by automobiles and land development activities, and a new directive to develop and implement a green infrastructure plan that fundamentally changes the ways cities handle storm water runoff. The Storm Drain Blue Ribbon Committee worked cooperatively with staff to review and prioritize current and future needs, develop a strategy for how to fund the highest-priority programs and projects, and make recommendations to the City Council for a funding ballot measure that will be presented to property owners for approval later in 2016.