Oxnard City Hall was ordered by a judge to lower your utility rates by June 16 ... but they have refused to do it.
Last December we prevailed in a lawsuit against the City of Oxnard for unlawfully charging its City-owned utilities (i.e. water, wastewater and solid waste) an Infrastructure Use Fee (or “IUF”), siphoning tens of millions of dollars to the City’s general slush fund (and increasing your utility bills to pay for it).
Judge Matthew Guasco described the City’s actions as “illegal and unreasonable” in his ruling.
To remedy this, the Court filed on March 23rd what's called an Amended Peremptory Writ of Mandate and Prohibition.
Among other things, the Writ commands the City to “cease and desist imposing the embedded Infrastructure Use Fees (“IUF”) in the rates paid by water, wastewater, and solid waste disposal ratepayers not later than 30 days after this writ is served upon you,” and notify the Court within 75 days that it had done so.
But instead of complying with the order to reduce utility rates, the City chose to play games.
The City’s outside legal counsel delayed accepting service of the Writ by email (a normal professional courtesy). At first, they told us they would accept service ... but then they dragged their heels for almost two months. When our attorney told them he was done waiting and intended to send a process server, they suddenly signed on May 17, which started the clock ticking for the City to comply with the Writ.
Why did they stall? So they could postpone the 30-day deadline for lowering your utility rates as long as possible ... in this case to June 16.
We reminded the City Council and City staff of the deadline both before it came and after it went, but the City of Oxnard neither lowered people’s utility rates, nor informed the Court by July 31 of its failure to do so.
Instead, the City Council took off the month of August for a summer vacation and left you paying higher utility rates.
Because City Hall continues to illegally overcharge you and other Oxnard residents and businesses, we are going back to court.
On Monday we filed a motion for the Court to hold a hearing on September 17 to:
- Declare that the City has failed to comply with the court order,
- Order compliance with the Writ and direct Oxnard to refund to ratepayers the amounts that it has unlawfully collected since June 16, 2021, and lastly,
- Set an Order to Show Cause, a court hearing where the City will be compelled to argue why the judge shouldn’t hold them in contempt of court.
Of course, this is not the first time the City has defied a court order.
Sadly, Oxnard's city management goes to great lengths to avoid doing the right thing by the ratepayers, and they only relent when attorneys get involved.