Foresthill Public Utility District was hoping that the Supreme Court of California would rule in favor of the Ramona Municipal Water District in their legal battle with customers challenging the unlawful rate structure they had implemented. The utility district hoped that their customers court case of unlawful charges would be overruled due to “lack of first exhausting administrative remedies by participating in a Proposition 218 hearing”. On May 30th, the Supreme Court of California ruled in favor of the customers.
Foresthill Public Utility District was hanging their hat that this court case, “Plantier v. Ramona Municipal Water District”, would go the other way and relinquish them of their unlawful charges, illegal rate structure and attorneys fees in regard to the Miners Camp litigation. Further information of how FPUD will respond to this news will be reported as soon as available.
Over the last number of years Miner's Camp argued that the District violated, and continues to violate, Proposition 218 because it had charged, and continues to charge, Miner's Camp, a historic cabin venue to support local weddings, retreats, family vacations and outdoor adventure, a water rate that imposes fees/charges for wrongly assumed water meters on Miner's Camp's Property, when in fact the “phantom” meters do not even exist, and never have existed on the Property.
The District charged Miner's Camp as though there are eight separate water lines with eight separate water meters serving each of the eight nostalgic cabins on the Miner's Camp Property when, in fact, there is only a single water line coming into the property with a single water meter to serve the group of eight historic cabins and record all water use on the property. Miner’s Camp argued the District manifestly cannot do so under Proposition 218, and after a full trial on the merits, the Court saw it the same way.
The District attempted to defend the petition by Miner’s Camp on a number of procedural grounds, none of which the Court agreed with, and did not attempt to meaningfully justify its rates as meeting the cost of service and proportionality requirements of Article XIIID, Section 6(b), but rather argued it was allowed to bill for the phantom meters based on a pre-Proposition 218 local ordinance that the District used to receive additional revenue from its customers based on the non-cost-based concept of "equivalent dwelling units". Again, the Court did not agree, noting that the District's treatment of the phantom meters without any corresponding cost of service would violate Proposition 218.
In addition to Miner’s Camp, there are numerous additional “multiple service” accounts in Foresthill (i.e., apartment complexes, mobile home parks, etc.) that are being charged by the District for phantom meters that do not exist on those properties.