April 12, 2014 Meeting Summary

April 12, 2014

Preparation

E-mail and phone reminders

Attendees

5 members

Acknowledgments

Susan brought red seedless grapes

Meeting

Agenda Items:

The meeting began about 11:30 pm

  • Nextdoor Neighborhood Website
    • Nextdoor is a website nextdoor.com that implements a private social network of neighbors to share information with each other.  Anything neighbors usually discuss with one another (politely).  Security issues, arranging meetings, sharing stuff, yard sales, recommendations,...  You can message individual neighbors, post to a group or the neighborhood, or also post to surrounding neighborhoods.
    • Pasadena's Neighborhood Connections, Fire, and Police Departments are reportly encouraging signing up with it.
    • You sign up to a neighborhood based on your address.  That places you into a neighborhood.  Neighborhoods are initially defined by defaulting to a mapping service's notion, but the people who form a neighborhood can request changes to the boundary.  Only members of your neighborhood can see your name and information you choose to include in your profile.
    • You can join after being invited by an existing neighborhood member, or you can sign up directly.  The website does some extra verification of your address using public records.
    • In Nextdoor, the area covered by our neighborhood association is included in a larger area named "Madre Oaks".  It includes the streets to our north up to Sierra Madre Blvd, and also the Canyon Wash neighborhood.  (Apparently the name "Madre Oaks" was used back in 1950 for the development of houses between Orange Grove and Sierra Madre Blvd.)
    • There are controls you can set for how often, or if, messages of various types are forwarded to your e-mail address.  At this point, the sign ups for our neighborhood are quite sparse and the activity level is low.
  • Sanitation District Tax and Rebate Program
    • In the past couple of weeks, the LA County Sanitation Districts sent  to all property owners a Notice of Public Hearing for proposed rate increases for sewage treatment.  These are fees/taxes that show up on our property tax bills.
    • The notice includes several articles about what the sanitation district does, says it needs more money, gives the exact rate your address is currently and will be assessed, and provides information about a heretofor little known rebate program.
    • Most single family homes are charged for 1 sewage unit.  Currently that is $139 per year. The proposal would increase it by an additional $3 each year for the next three years, so in three years the rate will be $148 per year.
    • While the advertised hearing is required by law under Proposition 218, there is virtually no chance it will not be approved. The protest process requires at least half of all property owners to protest in writing before the end of the hearing to stop the increase.
    • Low-Water Rebate Program
      • Property owners who don't use much water indoors may want to consider this.  The potential rebate is 25% or 40% of the rate, so $37 or $59.20 by the end of the increases.  Not a lot, but it may be worth the effort for those who need to save anywhere they can.
      • Once you apply and are approved for a rebate for last year, the reduction will be applied every year going forward until the property is sold.  So you only need to go through the hassle once.
      • Until a couple of days ago, the application for the described "Low-Water Rebate Program" was long, complicated, and confusing.  But now a new application has been posted on the district's website which is much more reasonable to complete.
      • For details and the application form  (note that some of the web page text still refers to the old complicated application), see:
      • You have to send in copies of a full fiscal year of water bills for each past year to be rebated.  Currently the application allows for up to three past years.  The fiscal year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30.  Since our neighborhood's meters are usually read about the 23rd of June and then every second month, the sanitation district said to start with the late June to August bill and end with the late April to June bill.  Since the last full fiscal year was 2012 - 2013, those are the current bills to use.  You can also submit bills for the previous two years to get retroactive rebates for those years.
      • If you submit your application by May 15 this year, they hope to be able to include the rate reduction in the property tax bill that we receive next October or a corrected bill before December.  But if not, as with rebates for past years a check will be mailed to the property owner
      • Qualification for a rebate is based on overall usage for the year, or winter usage.  The notion is that you don't do much outside watering in the winter, so the winter months are a better indicator of how much you are putting down the drain - thus how much sewage you are creating and therefore your impact on the system.
      • To see if you are likely to qualify for a rebate, the easiest thing to do is to look in the "Historical Usage" section of the bill, at the far right column labeled "HCF/DAY AVG."  The top number is for the period covered by that bill, it's the number to use.  To qualify for a rebate of 25%, the average daily usage in the winter months of November to February must be from .20 to .26 HCF.   To qualify for a rebate of 40%, the winter average must be less then .20 HCF.  I did not get an answer to how they will calculate using our bills which do not start/end on the designated months.  Best guess is they will just use the late October to December and late December to February bills rather then trying to prorate it.
      • If your winter months for some reason aren't the lowest usage months, they will also do a calculation on usage for the entire year.  If usage for the entire year is less then 94 HCF you can get a 25% rebate/reduction.  If less then 73 HCF it would be 40%.
      • Note that each property owner listed needs to sign the application.
  • Electric Rate Increases Proposed
    • Pasadena Water and Power (PWP) is proposing three successive years of increases in the Distribution & Customer Charge component of electric bills.  The average increase would be 2.7% this year, 2.4% next year, and 2.2% the following year.
    • That charge would also be split into its separate components on bills.  The Customer Charge includes meter reading, billing, and answering the phone.  The Distribution Charge includes distribution network operations and maintenance, and a portion of the capital costs in the form of depreciation expense, debt service on bonds, and pay-as-you-go capital investment.
    • These increases will be on top of the automatic formula increases in the transmission and energy charges.  Together, they are expected to increase the average bill by 8.3% starting this July.  But the percentage increase for the smallest residential users will be higher then for other customers because the the fixed rate customer charge is a larger portion of their total bill and because of rate structure changes.  For example, a sample 200 kWh per month customer's bill would increase 23%.  A 250 kWh per month residential bill would increase 22.5%.   But a 300 kWh per month residential customer bill would increase 5.2%.  (Note you need to double that monthly usage to compare with our two month bills.)   (Expected increases in energy costs for future years are so speculative or alarming they did not provide projections in the report to the City Council.)
    • Last year PWP hired a consultant to do a big study of costs and revenues.  It determined they are not charging enough for the basic service and distribution components of the bill.  It also determined that residential customers were not paying their fair share, and within residential customers the smallest and very largest users were not paying their fair share.
    • PWP will be trying to explain this at several events in the next couple of months.  The proposed changes will be brought before the City Council for a hearing in May or June for approval to take effect on July 1.
    • Here is a link to the City Council agenda for March 31, which was an informational only presentation of the topic:
      cityofpasadena.net/councilagendas/2014%20Agendas/Mar_31_14/agendarecap.asp
  • Pasadena Village
    • Pasadena Village is a relatively new non-profit membership and volunteer community for those 55 and over.
    • It's main purpose is to allow seniors to stay in the community they know, stay socially active, and get services as needed.  Members help each other, volunteers provide services, and there are referals to professionals.   Staff members organize events, clubs, transportation, referals, etc.
    • The membership is rather expensive, $720 for an individual, $960 for a couple, for one year.  There are "scholarships".
    • 626 765-6037
    • www.pasadenavillage.org
  • Pasadena Conference on Aging, April 26
    • The FREE 2014 Pasadena Conference on Aging is on Saturday April 26, from 8 am to 1:30 pm, at First Church of the Nazarene, 3700 East Sierra Madre Blvd.
    • "Receive practical information and resources that will help you plan ahead and get the most out of life."
    • Keynote address by Fritz Coleman, Channel 4 weatherman, followed by a long list of workshops.
    • Continental breakfast and lunch are included with conference registration.
    • There is a long list of sponsors, many of which will probably have tables with information and stuff to give away.
    • To register, call (866) 402-6797 or register online.
  • Hearing Screening
    • Free Hearing Screening on Wednesday April 23, 10 am - 2 pm, at Monte Vista Grove Homes, 2889 San Pasqual St.
    • This event is in conjunction with Councilmember Gene Masuda and his Field Representative Noreen Sullivan.  They will be there.
    • The announcement says that screening is by a licensed audiologist from HEAR Center.  Those with a hearing loss will be referred for a full free hearing test at HEAR Center's office in Pasadena.
    • "If you are unable to attend the public screening, you may also schedule a free screening at HEAR Center's office by calling 626-796-2016 ext. 10."
    • "HEAR Center is a non-profit organization committed to serving all those who need their services, despite the ability to pay."  Their website www.hearcenter.org, indicates a specialization in children with hearing loss, but that they serve all ages.
    • "Anyone interested in donating their old or used hearing aids, may drop them off at the public screening site."
  • Medicine Take Back - Disposal
    • Safely dispose of unused, unwanted or expired medicines.
    • Saturday April 26, 10 am - 2 pm, in front of Pasadena Police Department at 207 North Garfield.
    • Note:  You can also dispose of medicines anytime at the L.A.County Sheriff Department office at 780 E. Altadena Dr. (just west of Lake Ave) in Altadena.  There are outside collection boxes there.
  • Local Crime Summary
    • For the last month, from crimemapping.com:
      • Tues March 11, 10:20 pm, 3200 block E Orange Grove Blvd, Petty Theft
      • Mon April 7, 3:40 pm, 3200 block Estado St, Residential Burglary
      • Mon April 7, 12:38 pm, 3200 block E Foothill Blvd, Domestic Violence
    • 24 Hour Fitness had a women's locker break in during the early morning hours of March 27. Another burglary reported on April 5.
  • anything else attendees wish to discuss
    • Free mulch available at Victory Park
      • The city is distributing free mulch for residents.  The mulch is recycled city street tree trimmings.
      • It is available at Victory Park, in the south east corner of the parking lot, every day from 6 am to 10 pm, while supplies last.
      • The supply is supposed to be refreshed on April 11, May 9, June 6, July 18, August 1, September 12, and October 10.
      • Bring your own containers, and tools and gloves to transfer and transport the mulch to your garden.

Next meeting is May 10, 11:15 am, at Hastings Branch Library

Adjourned about 12:30 pm

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