Tue, Apr

Will DWP Rate Increases Fall into that Bottomless Pit of City Coffers?


JUST THE FACTS--The $15 an hour minimum wage that will soon be the norm throughout LA County and other areas will soon be chewed up by increased Los Angeles Department Water and Power rates as well as widespread rent increases to comply with earthquake retrofit costs for thousands of older apartment buildings throughout Los Angeles.


There are sufficient votes in the LA City Council to pass most if not all requests for user fees and/or increases in the cost of municipal services. 

There are some expenditures that require a vote of the public. I have gained insight over the years that leads me to suspect that the city could attempt to increase the sales tax for a variety of projects. This could be funds to help the homeless or to fix streets and sidewalks or for anything else that is sure to remove money from your pockets that will fall into the bottomless pit of the City Treasury.

Without tight, independent oversight of public funds by dedicated members of the community, history shows that our money vanishes; seldom are many projects completed on time and on budget. 

Over the next five years, LADWP rates will rise 43% over what you are now paying. That’s right…take your current bill and do the math. They say that the additional money collected will be used to update our aging water and electrical systems. 

As the city has spread out over the years, water and power systems have been under increased pressure to deliver services. While I have no dispute with the DWP workers who keep the water flowing and the power activated by a flip of the switch, I do have great concern with the amount of money spent on management at the DWP as well as other large department expenditures. 

These expenses need to be reviewed more closely by the volunteer DWP Commission – a commission that does not have a good history of watching out for the ratepayer but rather, has acted as a rubber stamp for whatever the DWP management requests. I trust our Mayor will institute appropriate oversight at the DWP to protect the people of Los Angeles. 

For those of you that have been following my DWP bill situation, I have more bad news. Recently, I discovered that my electric bill has been “estimated” for an unknown period of time. This is because the cover on my electric meter cannot be seen because the plastic cover has been bleached by the sun. 

You would think that the DWP Employee that reads the meter would have reported this and request a new meter. No luck. So I am now dealing with the DWP to remedy the situation. My current DWP bill is now $1,355.44. The previous bill was $2,226.81. 

Your suggestions and comments are always welcome.


(Dennis P. Zine is a 33-year member of the Los Angeles Police Department and former Vice-Chairman of the Elected Los Angeles City Charter Reform Commission, a 12-year member of the Los Angeles City Council and a current LAPD Reserve Officer who serves as a member of the Fugitive Warrant Detail assigned out of Gang and Narcotics Division. He writes Just the Facts for CityWatch. You can contact him at [email protected].) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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