ACTION represents the owners and managers of thousands of units in Santa Monica. We read with interest your letter to the Editor of Santa Monica Daily Press printed on February 15th.
We welcome the opportunity to dialog about RUBS with the hope that a mutually satisfactory outcome may result from our conversations.
Initially, we note that you mention “newer buildings” that “have the infrastructure ready to take on sub-meters.” We do not understand the term “newer buildings” in this context. All buildings constructed since 1990 have been built with sub-meters. So “newer buildings” with sub-meter ready infrastructure must be buildings that are over 27 years old. Do you agree? If not, what exactly do you mean by “newer buildings?”
Next, we are unfamiliar with the term “sub-meter-ready buildings.” Could you provide us with the addresses of some such buildings in Santa Monica so we can take a look at them to see what you are talking about? Is this a term you coined or did you get it from a plumbing contractor? If so, we would like to meet with the contractor to learn how to make our buildings “sub-meter ready.” Could you provide the names and contact information on your sources for the term?
Next, you state that “environmental organizations” attest that RUBS is “capricious and unscientific” and “does not lead to genuine water conservation.” We would appreciate your identifying the environmental organizations to which you refer and any of their publications that state that RUBS is capricious, unscientific and/or does not lead to genuine water conservation. By the way, is “genuine” water conservation different than water conservation? Are you trying to make a distinction or is this just a rhetorical flourish? It sounds like you agree that RUBS leads to water conservation but not to a significant amount of water conservation in your opinion.
Next, we thought the agenda item at the February 9 meeting was for a discussion of your proposal but no one discussed it except you. When you were advised that RUBS was already outlawed in Santa Monica and asked why you were making this new proposal, you did not respond. Nor did any of your fellow commissioners. Perhaps you could respond now. We believe that you sought this resolution because you feel you are about to lose the RUBS lawsuit brought by ACTION and wish to frustrate the matter by creating an additional hurtle for landlords after they win the lawsuit by having to bring a new lawsuit against the City. What are your thoughts?
Next, in your discussion of RUBS you mention that in your opinion it is “rife with abuse.” Although it lacks the precision of sub-meters, how is it rife with abuse? It is used in Los Angeles and many other jurisdictions in North America and Europe. Anything can be abused. We would not dispute that some landlords might try to defraud tenants by falsely representing the water billing being passed through to them but this can be easily prevented by requiring the landlords to send a copy of the master water bill to the tenants with their allocation. What other abuse do you have in mind? We should address the abuses. Creating a law because of the possibility of some abuses might be overkill. Tenants abuse their position as well as landlords. We have been told of tenants who deliberately run the garden hose and waste water as revenge to the landlord for some perceived offense. Should we pass a law that tenants are not allowed to use water? Of course not.
Finally, you have not addressed the landlords’ main argument for RUBS – the tenants use the water but the landlords pay for it. If the tenants overuse water, the landlords are liable for civil and criminal penalties. If the tenants overuse water, the landlords must pay for it at the higher tier rates. When the City Water Administration increases the water rates, the landlords pay them – not the tenants. A 9% increase in the water rate is scheduled for 2017, 2018 and 2019. If the water bill was $60 per month for a triplex (which is probably below average), a 9% increase is $5.40 per month. But the cap on this year’s general adjustment was $7.00 or $21 for a triplex. Thus, over 25% of the allowable general adjustment would be just for water!! What are your thoughts?
As a public servant, we thank you for conversing with us and trying to reach a mutually agreeable solution to the use of RUBS.
Elaine Golder-Gealer, President Action Apartment Association