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Center for Biological Diversity AB 2453

Center for Biological Diversity AB 2453

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Published by CalCoastNews
The Center for Biological Diversity (Center), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, formally submits its opposition
to the proposed Assembly Bill 2453.
The Center for Biological Diversity (Center), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, formally submits its opposition
to the proposed Assembly Bill 2453.

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Published by: CalCoastNews on May 06, 2014
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Washington, DC

Russell Howze Urban Wildlands Program 351 California St., Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: 415-436-9682 x306 Fax: 415-436-9683 rhowze@biologicaldiversity.org

CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY


April 30, 2014

Chairman Katcho Achadjian
Assembly Committee on Local Government
1020 N Street, Room 157
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: 916-319-3959

Re: Opposition to AB 2453

Chairman Achadjian and Committee Members:

The Center for Biological Diversity (Center), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, formally submits its opposition
to the proposed Assembly Bill 2453. If passed, AB 2453 will amend the state water code relevant to
the creation of a California Water District (CWD) and allow the formation of a water district over
the Paso Robles groundwater basin to be based solely upon an unreasonable vote by size-of-acreage
owned within the proposed district. Instead of using a democratic one-person, one-vote method of
creating the new CWD, this new scheme will disenfranchise small landowners in the Paso Robles
basin and will create unsound policy that will set a negative precedent for future water districts.

In the Paso Robles basin, ninety of the largest landowners control about two-thirds of the acreage.
As the bill stands in your committee, the formation vote for a CWD will be based upon acreage. AB
2453 will allow as few as 35 landowners to creat the Paso Robles Basin Water District, and thus
disenfranchise the thousands of registered voters in the district who will be taxed on the water that
they use. On February 26, 2014, the Cal Coast News reported that hundreds of rural landowners,
represented by the Creston Advisory Board (CAB), have already voted to be excluded from this
vote-by-size framework. CAB chairman Sheila Lyons states that “the formation vote for any water
district should be based on one parcel, one vote.” If AB 2453 passes, “the majority of landowners
will have their rights ‘taken’ from them.”

The bill will begin the process of establishing the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin in San Luis
Obispo County, but it will also create significant implications for all of California. Setting up a vote
based upon size of property will set a precedent where wealthy landowners will be able to sieze
control of a region’s local groundwater. Water is a shared resource, so concentrated control will
effectively privatize water and disempower the public. The directors who would get elected to
create the CWD will surely have the interests of the larger landowners at heart. Passing AB 2453
will also bring up legal issues of equal protection under the state Constitution.

Media outlets in the San Luis Obispo region report that real estate investment groups are purchasing
large acreage in the area. A CWD has not been formed in over 20 years. As speculators descend
and are hopeful that the Paso Robles Basin Water District will have friendly directors on board based
upon the bills’ hybrid voting structure, this committee has an opportunity to protect our shared

resource. In order to protect the public’s water in the Paso Robles Basin, the Center opposes AB
2453 as it stands, and supports the formation of a governing board based upon a democratic one-
voter, one-vote election.

Sincerely,


Russell Howze
Urban Wildlands Program

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