Is Oxnard Making False Claim to Sell Utility Rate Hikes?

Oxnard’s government is going all out to sell you on proposed 60% utility rate increases that will cost the typical household an extra $750 per year. 

But can you trust their sales pitch?

 The FAQ page of the city’s website about the utility rate increase states:

“Also, new regulations from the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District require the City to replace its fleet of failing diesel trucks with compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks. In addition to replacing these vehicles, the City needs to build a CNG fueling and maintenance facility.”

We have been searching, and have not yet found any such regulation.

A member of our board phoned the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District and connected with a very helpful representative.  We asked if he could show us the particular regulation the city is talking about.  The answer was that their agency does not issue regulations about diesel garbage trucks.

The representative said if there was some such new regulation, it would have to come from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a state agency.  He helped us find the section of the CARB website regarding their Solid Waste Collection Vehicle Rule.

If this is the regulation the city intended to reference, you can see from their website that this is not a “new” regulation as they claimed, and it’s not from the agency the city named.  It was adopted in 2003, and all garbage collection trucks were already required to be in compliance by 2010.

If you follow the link at the top of that webpage to read the actual regulation itself, you will find that using alternative fuels is only one of four possible ways for a garbage truck to comply.  It is also possible to comply by making modifications to the diesel truck or fuel without the $13.45 million expense of replacing the fleet of 50 vehicles plus the $2.5 million cost of the special CNG gas station and maintenance facility.

At current market prices, compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks might very well be the right decision.  However, before bundling this into a larger package of rate increases, the city should demonstrate that switching to CNG trucks is the best compliance option, and that it will provide a reasonable return on investment for ratepayers.

Otherwise, we are left with the impression that this is a “want,” rather than a “need.”

Even if the city can show that replacing the vehicle fleet makes financial sense, their claim that we are required to do so by regulations outside of our control seems dubious, and it causes us to question whether we can accept their other claims at face value.

Have you ever noticed how careless people can be when spending other people’s money?

Perhaps there is a reason why Oxnard’s government has a reputation for misspending your hard-earned money.

We need your help to stop these crippling rate increases:

1) Share this blog post with your Oxnard friends and neighbors.

2) Complete and return the protest ballot on page 2 of this document

3) Attend the January 19th public hearing at 6:00 pm at Oxnard City Hall (305 W Third St).


UPDATE:  We were right to doubt the city's statement in the above story.  The Ventura County Star, in an article published January 12, 2016, confirmed with official spokesmen that the county and the state do not have a regulation such as the one described by the city.  The city's website has since been updated to remove that assertion.

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