Recall Effort Launched Against Yorba Linda Water Board Members

Recall papers were served last week on two members of the Yorba Linda Water District board by an activist group challenging a decision to raise rates 380 percent over five years.

Citing a “deceptive campaign” to raise the rates, Eddy Jackson, representing the Yorba Linda Taxpayers Association, served recall papers against board members Gary Melton and Robert Kiley during Thursday’s water district meeting.

Opponents of the water rate increases said in a news release the recall election will be on the November ballot, provided they gather 9,520 voter signatures on recall petitions for each of the two board members.

Two other board members, Ric Collett and Mike Beverage are up for re-election in November. By timing the recall to coincide with the general election, the activists said voters could remove a majority of the five water board directors from office and save the expense of a separate recall election.

Water district Public Affairs Manager Damon Micalizzi confirmed the recall papers were served during the meeting. The Yorba Linda Taxpayers Association also posted a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jNpNDmKw3k) on YouTube of Jackson serving the recall papers.

Melton said in a telephone interview the taxpayers association has “been threatening it (recall) for a long time so it wasn’t a big surprise.”

He said the rate increase was necessary because Yorba Linda was required by the state to lower its water use by 36 percent last year, due to the prolonged drought. The big drop in water use meant income from ratepayers dropped substantially.

“This was the best resolution to keep the district going at least through this water crisis,” he said.

But opponents of the rate increase argue it was far too high.

Melton and Kiley have seven days to file a response and recall backers probably will begin collecting signatures in late March. They have 120 days to get the 9,520 signatures, or 20 percent of the water district’s voters, apiece for Melton and Kiley.

Separately, the Yorba Linda Taxpayers Association has filed a court suit seeking to rescind the water rate increases.

You can contact Tracy Wood at twood@voiceofoc.org and follow her on Twitter: @TracyVOC.