Sunday, November 1, 2015

Down And Out (Of The Pool) In Beverly Hills

The rich have enough money and power to break the rules, folks, and that certainly applies to Beverly Hills not giving a single damn about being fined for breaking mandatory California drought provisions.

The wealthy Los Angeles area municipality was fined $61,000 on Thursday, making it the only community not located in a desert to be assessed penalties, the California State Water Resources Board said.

"Some urban water suppliers simply have not met the requirements laid before them," said Cris Carrigan, director of the water board's Office of Enforcement. “For these four suppliers, it’s been too little too late."

"For those who aren't (conserving) and who are wasting water, you should be ashamed of yourselves," Carrigan said.

Californians are under orders from the water board and Democratic Governor Jerry Brown to cut usage by 25 percent over the levels used in 2013. As a whole, the state has met that goal for four months running, regulators said on Friday.

From June through August, California residents and businesses have saved 253 billion gallons of water, board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus told reporters.

But the cities of Beverly Hills, Indio and Redlands and the Coachella Valley Water District have not met the standard, and each were fined $61,000, the board said.

Beverly Hills, where some wealthy property owners continue to maintain lush green lawns despite orders to conserve, residents used about 169 gallons of water per person during September, compared with 68 gallons used by residents of Los Angeles.

Beverly Hills residents have wasted 175 million gallons of water since June, Carrigan said on the conference call.

And of course the fine itself is so low by Beverly Hills standards that it's utterly meaningless.

One former Beverly Hills resident, Richard Greene, said the fine was far too small for what he said was possibly the richest city in the country, if not the world.

"Wow, ouch ... It actually seems to minimize the importance of water conservation when you're fining the wealthiest municipality $61,000, which is pocket change for most of the people you see walking up and down this street," Greene said.

Beverly Hills spokeswoman Cheryl Friedling said in a statement that the city is very concerned about not meeting the conservation mandate, and that it has been working aggressively toward that goal, even setting up a program to impose financial penalties on customers who waste water.

But she said the program did not start until this month. The city also plans to hire additional staff to investigate violations of conservation rules and put individual customers on personalized conservation programs if necessary.

Somehow I'm thinking that these "personalized conservation programs" will only be...well...a drop in the bucket.  Wasting 175 million gallons in three months for a population of 35,000, well that's 5,000 gallons wasted per resident in 3 months, or a pretty decent-sized swimming pool's worth for a household of four for the summer (which is probably what it was to be honest.)

But hey, like I said, $61,000?  That's two bucks a person even if they passed every bit of that fine on to residents. Hey Cali, throw a few zeroes on the end of that number and maybe you'll get someone's attention.

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