Beverly Hills City Council Approves Water Rate Hike

Residents and businesses on the westernside of West Hollywood will see their water ratesincrease inMarch thanks to a4-1vote Tuesday night by theBeverly Hills City Council.However, their overall water bills will likely go down slightly thanks to elimination of a special surcharge for West Hollywood customers.

West Hollywood area served by Beverly Hills Water

With that vote, water rates will change from asimple structure charging for tiers ofwateruseto a more complex one thatretains the tiers, butredistributes the rate burden among customer classes(single-family homes, multi-family buildings and commercialbusinesses), service areas(Beverly Hills vs. West Hollywood)andservices used.

The vote also ended the 25% surcharge Beverly Hills has been charging its West Hollywood water customersfor the past 90 years. However,thanks to the new service area and customer class distinctions,West Hollywood residential customers will still pay approximately 16% more than Beverly Hills residential customers, while WeHo commercial customers will payabout13% more.

Under the changes, Beverly Hills will instead chargeWest Hollywood customersan extra $.82per hundred cubic feet (HCF)(748 gallons)of waterto cover things Beverly Hills residents pay via property taxes, such as public safety services, governmental facilities and right-of-waymaintenanceconnected to the water system.

Additionally, all customers, WeHo and Beverly Hills alike, will pay a“reliability”charge which willcoverinfrastructure upgradesas well as findingnew sources for water.Thatreliabilitycharge is $.23 per HCFfor Beverly Hills and $.38 per HCFfor West Hollywood.

In total, West Hollywood customers will now pay $.97 more per HCF than Beverly Hills customers. So, with the 25% surcharge eliminated,a single-family home in West Hollywood will seeitsbi-monthlybill for using 15 HCF drop from$139 under the old rate to $117 under the new rate.

West Hollywood City CouncilmemberLauren Meister, who has been leading the charge against the 25% surchargefor years, was pleased by theCouncil’svote.

“It’s moving in a positive direction. The fact that the difference between Beverly Hills has gone from 25% to an average of 13% to 16% is definitely the right way to go,” Meister told WEHOville after the vote.

However,Meisteris still concernedBeverly Hillsisnot giving West Hollywood customers credits on their bills for expenses the City of West Hollywood incurs when there are water infrastructure issues in West Hollywood.

“It doesn’t seem fair if there’s a water main break in West Hollywood, it’s our fire department that comes to see what’s going on, not your fire department. It’s our sheriffs that are there moving traffic, not your police department,” Meister told theBeverly HillsCouncil. “We don’t feel that is something that has been considered.”

The only other West Hollywood resident speaking during the public comment period wasMarquita Thomas. She spokeagainst the 25% surcharge, saying,“it’s time to end what is essentially a Robin Hood in reverse policy and eliminate the surcharge altogether.”

ABeverly Hills city staffer reported the city had received a total of 20 lettersopposing the rate hike, eight of which were from WeHo customers.

Beverly Hills Vice Mayor John Mirisch cast the only vote against the hike. Mirisch has a long history of voting againstany type offee increasesthe city implements.

Beverly Hills provides water servicein West Hollywoodto the area bounded by Sunset Boulevard on the north, Doheny Drive on the west and Beverly Boulevard on the south, while the eastern boundary varies greatly but goes as far east as Flores Street in some areas.Residents living in other areas of West Hollywood get their water from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LA DWP).

Beverly Hills began providing water tothatareain1928 when it purchased the Sherman Water Companywhich wasservicing thethen unincorporated areathat would eventually become West Hollywood.To pay for the cost ofthe purchase,Beverly Hills imposed the 25% surchargeon West Hollywood customers.

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About James F. Mills
James F. Mills has reported on West Hollywood extensively for over a decade, notably serving as the editor of AOL’s West Hollywood Patch website. His journalism has also appeared in LA Weekly, Backstage West, Notes From Hollywood, Gay Star News and Frontiers magazine, among others. A North Carolina native, he moved to California as soon as he finished graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill and has never looked back.

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Thank you Councilmember Meister for showing up and really driving this issue for WeHo residents and businesses. A reduction from a 25% surcharge down to 13% is a big deal!


There was a lawsuit filed last year by West Hollywood residents over the 25% surcharge. I wonder where that stands.