The San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously passed water and sewer rate increases, potentially raising bills up to 5.5 percent.
The water and sewer increases will be used to pay for infrastructure improvements, regulatory requirements, increased equipment, and maintenance and operational costs.
However, the bill increase left some residents upset and without answers to their questions. “I think if the inflation rate is lower than that, how can they justify raising it by 5.5%, and I don’t think they answered that,” said San Luis Obispo resident Jesse Arnold.
The average water bill in San Luis Obispo for a single-family home is about $56.98 but after the new increases, that will rise to $60.09. According to Councilmember Carlyn Christianson, “Yes, they pay a lot for their water and waste water, but they get what they pay for.”
While the water in San Luis Obispo is clean and drinkable, community members say they are simply struggling to keep up with the rates.
Nancy Cannon has lived in San Luis Obispo for eight years and has seen her water bill go from $17 to $20 a month to now being in the $60 range. “Five-and-a-half percent increases is a lot and a lot of us that are living on that fixed income, it’s a big nip,” Cannon said.
While residents will see their water and sewer bills take a jump, Arnold wishes more people were aware of the issue. “I expected more people to come out and question it,” Arnold said.
Not only did people not show up to the meeting, but council members say they only received about 700 letters of protest when more than 7,000 were needed.
As the new water and sewer rates are set to increase starting July 1 and could potentially rise another 5 percent in July of 2020, Cannon said San Luis Obispo is a “nice place to live but not for sissies, this is tough.”