Water cuts and prescription footnotes – The Ukiah Daily Journal


On Thursday, July 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom urged residents across the state to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15% amid deteriorating conditions along the west coast.

Surprisingly, Southern California is not yet included in the state’s drought emergency proclamation.

Keep in mind that Newsom has not issued a decree requiring mandatory water cuts. This is an urgent plea, however, and in my opinion, he won’t be able to wait much longer before he is forced to issue a real ordinance imposing state-wide water cuts.

Without a doubt, the governor’s dismissal date of September 14 is the main, if not the only reason for delaying what is now inevitable. Newsom is sticking to its plan to prevent any negative political fallout that is sure to occur if Californians were subjected to further hardship after enduring 15 months of lockdown orders linked to the pandemic. But he is unlikely to lose a recall election mainly because there is no nominated candidate who has a chance to replace him.

Newsom has included businesses in its call to reduce water use. According to the governor’s office, a 15% reduction in water use would save 850,000 acre-feet of water, enough to supply more than 1.7 million homes for a year.

Newsom said residents had already responded to the drought conditions and was confident they would take action again to reduce their water use.

He urged residents to limit watering outdoors, use recycled water when possible outdoors, take shorter showers and only run dishwashers and washing machines. wash only when full.

Newsom on Thursday added nine more counties to the state’s drought emergency proclamation. The ruling means that 50 of the state’s 58 counties are covered by the proclamation, or about 42% of the total population.

The only counties not covered by the proclamation are Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Imperial, Ventura, and San Francisco.

The US Drought Monitor this week ranked California’s drought condition as severe drought to exceptional drought, with the latter designation being the highest on a 5-point scale.

CoCo referendum notice

Last week, the County Council Office (“CoCo”) issued an opinion regarding the status of the 10% crop expansion referendum sponsored by the Small Is Beautiful Coalition, of which I am co-chair.

Here is a summary of the opinion of County Lawyer Christian Curtis.

“If a referendum petition targeting only Footnote 6 got enough signatures, there are three possible outcomes as to what a court might do. First, it is possible that a court will find that a single footnote referendum is inadmissible and decide that the petition is invalid. In this scenario, the ordinance would proceed as if the petition had never been distributed. Second, it is possible that a court may find the referendum request valid, but Article 9145 of the Election Code requires that the previous ordinance be repealed before adopting an amended version. If so, implementation of the remainder of the ordinance may be delayed for several years while the county undergoes an environmental review. Third, a court may determine that even if Footnote 6 is stayed and / or revoked, the remainder of the order remains as it was originally adopted. Of these three possibilities, I think the first is the most likely, but the absence of any direct authority on the point and significant ambiguity in this area gives me a relatively low level of certainty.

I purposely postponed reviewing CoCo legal opinions for a while because you quickly start to lose people’s interest with discussions of legal theories, precedents, etc. We exchanged precedents, relevant quotes and sayings. this bogus problem over the past three weeks. His opinion has been amended several times. We had anticipated that the county would probably try this tactic, so we were prepared for it. Yes, there is a severability clause in the ordinance and I cited that fact to rebut Curtis’ claim that the 10 percent rule is not severable. Curtis actually approved the format of the order, including the severability clause. As someone who has negotiated hundreds of major and minor collective agreements, I can tell you that we’ve always included severance clauses in every one of them, for obvious reasons: you don’t want all of them. the ABC, or in this case the ordinance, for constitutional or other legal reasons, such as a referendum.

Here is the clause:

“Article 14. Severability. – If any article, paragraph, sentence, clause, sentence or part of this Ordinance is, for whatever reason, declared invalid or unconstitutional by a decision of a competent court, this decision shall not affect not the validity of the other parts of this order. The Supervisory Board hereby declares that it would have adopted this ordinance and each section, subsection, sentence, clause and sentence thereof, regardless of whether one or more sections, sub-sections, sentences, clauses or sentences are declared invalid or unconstitutional. “

Although the clause refers to court decisions, it is important for other reasons as it establishes that the order survives intact despite the removal of any article, paragraph, sentence, clause, sentence or part of the order. A referendum is just another part of the legal process where citizens have the right to revoke parts or parts of an ordinance.

Likewise, Curtis’ argument that the 10 percent rule is too “narrow” an issue for a referendum is irrelevant. The main goal and objective of the New Ordinance is the expansion of cultivation. The only reference to the singularly major foundation for crop expansion in the ordinance is the 38-word sentence hidden under the asterisk 6 in Schedule A, a zoning table.

It is a footnote, although the most important footnote in the entire ordinance. Without this footnote, by definition, there is no expansion.

This one-sentence footnote could just as easily have been placed in its own stand-alone section of the ordinance, but it was not. Supervisors decided to make it a footnote. But that does not change the overriding importance of the sole reference throughout the ordinance to expansion.

If the courts were to accept such a distorted argument, all a supervisory board would have to do is place an unpopular provision like the 10 percent footnote expansion rule, thus preventing citizens from exercising. their constitutional referendum rights.

We are convinced that the courts will not support this type of constitutional abuse.

Jim Shields is the editor and publisher of the Mendocino County Observer, [email protected], and is also the longtime district director of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio show “This and That” every Saturday at noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also broadcast live: http://www.kpfn.org

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