Sen. Sen. Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) authored the bill to simplify financing projects for the collection of rainwater, clean up, and recycling.
In mid-October to provide guidance on how SB 231
will affect agencies, Sen. Hertzberg hosted a webinar. Now available online, the webinar
covered the bill’s provisions, implementation strategies and the risk of legislation from opponents.
Under Prop.218 (1996), local governments must undertake a majority protest and two-thirds vote process in order to raise local property-related fees, except for sewer, water and trash rates. SB 231 seeks to simplify the process for cities and counties to raise fees to address storm water clean up, effective Jan. 1, 2018, by explicitly including storm water in the definition of “sewer.”
Compliance with the state and federal requirements is costly, with local governments facing annual funding shortfalls. In 2015, the Public Policy Institute of California estimated the funding gap at approximately $500–800 million annually. Failure to comply with state and federal requirements can result in fines of up to $10,000 per contaminant per day. However, options available for cities to pay for such clean-up efforts are limited.
Due to potential litigation related to SB 231, cities should continue to consult their city attorney before taking action to raise storm water fees.