Small Farm definition

By From page A5 | June 27, 2014


On Monday I attended the 10 a.m. EID workshop on the definition of a small farm. In my opinion, it didn’t go well.

It just wasn’t well planned or prepared and I was disappointed because of it. The facility was too small and a large number of rate payers had to sit in another room where it was hard to understand or follow the proceedings. Many eventually gave up and left.

The very first impression I got of the workshop was that it was, at least for some board members, getting in the way of other business and they wanted to get it over with; “It has been going on since January,” stated one board member. I was hoping the attitude would be just the opposite, paying attention to the rate payers to make sure they were heard and act on their behalf — not dismiss them to get on with something better. Do I not understand what the workshop was for? I missed any previous notice of the new definition of a small farm activity and didn’t anticipate the magnitude of the changes coming. I would have liked more time to prepare.

I have a big investment in my grapes and olive trees and probably won’t qualify under the proposed change. I relied on the Small Farm Rate when I made that investment. There is just too much bureaucracy associated with the new definition. The stated purpose in this new definition is to “get homeowners with gigantic lawns” who are taking advantage of the small farm rate at the expense of all non-farm rate users. I understand the problem. I understand there is no easy solution.

The board said the change is not about “rates” it’s about qualification. Maybe there needs to be a paradigm shift. Wouldn’t it be easier and much simpler to adjust the Small Farm Rate instead of the definition? For me the decision is whether to pay the resident rate or stop watering my vines and trees. An increase is a much easier decision for me and it offsets the cost of this new imposed bureaucracy requiring insurance, license, tax forms, etc.

What about the increased cost of oversight for EID or whoever? The increase in revenue would also help offset the loss resulting from the transfer of water to Jenkinson Lake that one of the board members agonized over.

I think the current proposed definition is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. What are we trying to accomplish here? Catch those buggers with megalawns sneaking by with cheap water rates, cut down on water usage because of the drought situation, eliminate small farmers? Finally, I think another workshop should be scheduled now that everyone has been sensitized to the situation.


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