Water “Rate Relief” Bill by Asm. Manuel Pérez Passes Policy Committee

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PRESS RELEASE

(SACRAMENTO) – A bill to protect mobile home park residents overcharged for their water was approved late yesterday in the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce.  Authored by Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella), the bill passed with bipartisan approval on a vote of 10-0 and now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

“This bill is about fairness under the law,” said Pérez. “The law should apply equally, regardless of where one lives or purchases water service. This bill ensures that mobile home park residents are eligible to access the same protections and remedies as other water customers.”

AB 1830 clarifies the Public Utilities Code in instances where water rates charged by the mobile home parks are found to be unjust and unreasonable, so that the term “rate relief” may also include the reimbursement of funds to residents who have been overcharged.  This change would provide the same rights and protections to residents of mobile home parks who pay for their water services through the park as are enjoyed by customers of Investor Owned Utilities.

Providing testimony in support of the bill were two 80th District residents, Teresa Valencia and Bertha Ceja.  Megan Beaman of California Rural Legal Assistance was also present.

The need for this policy remedy surfaced due to the January ruling by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regarding the exorbitant water rates charged by Sunbird Mobile home Park in Thermal, California.  The PUC ruled in favor of the residents, declaring the park’s $500-$1,000 monthly water bills for arsenic contaminated water to be “unjust” and “unreasonable,” and instituted “rate relief,” issuing a revised schedule of reasonable water rates to be used by the park.  However, the PUC determined it lacked authority under the statute to grant reimbursement to residents as part of “rate relief”, even though this remedy is enjoyed by water customers of Investor-Owned Utilities.