Amicus Brief in Patz et al. v. City of San Diego for Water Watchdogs

May 22, 2023

May 22, 2023 | Cara Horowitz and Heather Dadashi

On May 19, 2023, faculty at the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment filed an amicus brief in the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Fourth District, supporting tiered water rates as one important tool for local water agencies to advance the state’s conservation and equity goals. The brief was filed as part of the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic on behalf of California Coastkeeper Alliance and Los Angeles Waterkeeper by Emmett Institute Executive Director Cara Horowitz along with Emmett/Frankel Fellow Heather Dadashi.

This brief was submitted in the case of Daniel Patz, Joan Mann Chesner, et al. v. City of San Diego, a class action challenging the city’s use of tiered water rates, whereby individual water users are charged progressively higher prices as water use increases.

Tiered water rates are entirely consistent with state law and critical for state policy. The brief argues that the trial court adopted an unlawfully narrow interpretation of Proposition 218, a constitutional amendment passed in 1996, in a way that will curtail the use of tiered water rates. The brief argues that upholding the trial court decision would undercut the important and widespread equitable water rate design practices throughout the state, which are meant to promote conservation, affordability, and equity.

This case comes at a time when water is becoming increasingly precious because of climate change, and water supply and affordability challenges threaten to hit low-income Californians the hardest.

View the brief.

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