Senate Bill (SB) 998, entitled “Discontinuation of residential water service: urban and community water systems” was signed into law by former Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018. SB 998 imposes on City water utilities additional rules and procedures that must be followed before residential water service can be interrupted and is intended to minimize the number of Californians who have their water service shut off due to their inability to pay. Among the requirements, the City is required to adopt a policy with specific provisions by February 1, 2020.
On January 14, 2020, the City Council adopted Administrative Policy, Section 4.11 - Discontinuation of Residential Water Service for Non-Payment, which meets the new requirements regarding disconnection of residential water service for nonpayment as required by SB 998.
In addition, staff is proposing an Urgency Ordinance with the following changes to the Utility Billing Chapter of the Chino Hills Municipal Code to comply with the requirements of SB 998 and the Health and Safety Code and to ensure that the ordinance is consistent with our current utility billing practices:
- 13.05.060 - Billing and collection - updated language consistent with SB 998 to reflect that utility bills are due and payable upon presentation and water service is subject to disconnection if not paid within 60 days from the date of the bill.
- 13.05.070 - Late payment of utility bills - updated language to assess the penalty when the shut-off notice is generated.
- 13.05.080 - Disputes - clarified that the thirty days to appeal is calculated from the bill date.
- 13.05.110 - Proration of charges - removed requirement that “The daily rate is carried to four decimal places.” (Regular Ordinance only)
- 13.05.130 - Notices - added that a reasonable attempt at a 48 hour notice could be posting in a conspicuous location at the premises and corrected the reference to California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.23 (defining "dependent adult").
- 13.05.140 - Discontinuance of service - added that the City may not discontinue service for nonpayment of a delinquent account if all conditions of the California Health and Safety Code Section 116910, subsection (a), added by SB 998, are met: 1) certification by primary care provider that water shut-off would be life-threatening, 2) evidence of inability to pay and 3) agreement to repay over time.
The Urgency Ordinance is necessary so that the recently adopted Administrative Policy, Section 4.11 will be consistent with the Chino Hills Municipal Code when it becomes effective on February 1, 2020. Staff recommends adoption of an urgency ordinance as well as a regular Ordinance as a “back-up” Ordinance adopted through the regular process. The adoption of a back-up Ordinance is standard recommended practice whenever an Urgency Ordinance is adopted in case the Urgency Ordinance findings are challenged and the Urgency Ordinance invalidated. The regular Ordinance contains an additional provision to Section 13.05.110, that while not required by SB 998, so not "urgent," will conform to the City's existing utility practice, as noted above.