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As we all continue to address more extreme, unpredictable climates and rainy seasons, San Bruno is committed to ensuring we are doing our part to maintain clean water in our region while minimizing flooding property damage to our local residents and businesses.
A properly maintained and functioning storm drain system is necessary to meeting these needs, yet a recent stormwater infrastructure analysis show the City's storm drain system is inadequate. During the rainy season, we are at risk of hillside erosion and overflow of our storm drain system citywide - which can pollute Bay waters - and puts our homes and businesses at risk of flooding that damages property and obstructs residents, police and emergency response.
Properly maintained stormwater infrastructure protects local properties from expensive flooding and water damage while also protecting the San Bruno Channel, the San Francisco Bay, and local water supplies from contamination. To prevent obstruction of local emergency response, it is critical that long-term repairs to our stormwater system continue to be made on a timely basis.
Much of San Bruno's aging stormwater system has been in use since the early 1900s. Upgrading and properly maintaining our local system will prevent public safety hazards caused by system failure, landslides, sinkholes and flooding while protecting local waterways and property.
We have received over 700 responses to our recent invitation to hear community input about our local stormwater issues. Below are the top priorities we have heard to date:
The proposed fee methodology calculation that was included in the Storm Drainage and Flood Protection Fee report can be viewed by entering your 9-digit Assessor Parcel Number (APN) without spaces or dashes on our Stormwater Fees page.
If you don't know your APN, you can easily obtain it through the County of San Mateo Planning and Building Map Viewer.
Unfortunately, the City is able to make only emergency repairs without adequate funding to address critical upgrades to the aging stormwater system. We also know now is the time to live within our means. To that end, the City Council has canceled a planned water and sewer rate increase and unanimously voted to propose an updated stormwater fee structure uniquely calculated so that each property pays its share based on the impact each property has on the stormwater system to address stormwater system needs.
Each property owner received a notification of their estimated fee under the proposed Storm Drain and Flood Protection Fee to address health and safety upgrades and better protect local waterways and property.
This election is not a secret ballot election. However, that is not due to a policy choice made by the City, but due to a requirement of California law.
Under California law, when a city conducts a property-owner mail ballot election for this sort of property-related fee, the ballot in the election is required to include:
Some residents have asked why their name and property address is on the ballot. The current stormwater fee has not been adjusted for the past 27 years, state laws regarding this sort of election have changed in the last decade, and many of our residents are used to participating in elections where every registered voter can cast a ballot. However, as noted above, the City cannot conduct a property-owner mail ballot election as a secret ballot election.
State law requires that ballots must remain sealed until the commencement of tabulation. (Government Code Section 53755.5(b)(2)). State law also requires that:
During and after the tabulation, the ballots and, if applicable, the information used to determine the weight of each ballot, shall be treated as public records, as defined in [the California Public Records Act], subject to public disclosure and made available for inspection by any interested person. (Government Code Section 53755.5(b)(4)).
While property-owner mail ballot election for property-related fees are less common than registered voter elections, the California Supreme Court has specifically held that the California Constitution does not require secret ballots for this sort of property-owner mail ballot election. The City was aware of the election procedure required by State law, and flagged for property-owners the unusual aspect of this type of election in an effort to be transparent. The City printed on every ballot:
To ensure the privacy of your ballot prior to tabulation, please return it in the Ballot Return Envelope that was included with this ballot. This ballot becomes a public record once it is opened during tabulation.
It's worth noting that in 2014, the state adopted additional transparency practices for these types of elections due to some agencies abusing the process by trying to keep property owner ballot results secret. The result was amendments to the government code to require that these ballots be public records.