The city responds

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Six weeks ago I got a letter from the city informing me of a new "drainage fee" and assessing me $190/year for the "impermeable" surface on my property.
Their thinking went, presumably, that this impermeable surface meant rainfall ran off to the street where is was processed by the storm-sewer system. This new fee is meant to add funds to the storm-sewer creation and maintenance function of the city's government.
There are exceptions: One of which is if the property is served by an open drainage ditch.
So, I go to the city's site for registering a protest. Ah ha, there is an aerial view (Google Earth) of my property overlaid by some bit of software that drew little rectangles over the "impermeable" areas (driveway, sidewalks, out-buildings, dog just standing in the yard, etc.). This bit of software evidently adds up the area comprising all the rectangles to achieve a total square footage and assesses a fee of three cents per square-foot per year.
Well, fuck this nonsense. I protested the assessment allowing as how my property is served by a drainage ditch to the rear that easily handles half of the rainfall. (Man, the ditch is twenty feet deep and fifty feet wide - it's more like a canal than a ditch.) I further opined that, since it hasn't rained here since January, it seems a little disingenuous to be imposing a DRAINAGE fee.
Anyway, the city just sent me an email saying my reasoning is flawed, the original assessment stands, and I smell funny.
I'm gonna appeal.
Anyway, heads up. This silliness will spread, you mark my words, to your town, too. Start thinking about camouflage paint for your garage and outbuildings' roofs.
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HeyBub wrote:

be glad you're not in colorado where where it's illegal to collect rainwater.
http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/18/nation/na-contested-rainwater18
if you put out buckets to collect the rainwater, you can get the buckets tax free: http://www.catchtherain.com/Resource_Links/texas_sales_tax.php . i would guess that the square footage of the buckets would count against your hardscape area. perhaps you need to collect ALL the rainwater that falls on your property?
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Sometimes the answer to every question is no, and you don't get their attention until you appeal.
Especially when appeals are handled by a sort of impartial third party, instead of the folks who work for the municipality that needs your money.
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Santa Monica actually PAYS homeowners to convert hardscape into permeable, and water-thirsty plantings into xeriscape -- especially doing away with turf grass which is a huge consumer of water (and chemicals). I think they said it is the largest crop in the country?...
AFAIK, up to half the cost can be met by the City, providing the homeowner follows certain protocols; makes out the requisite forms, etc. Not a five-minute paperwork job; careful irrigation design is part of the process. Also, we are STRONGLY encouraged to use rain barrels and other collection devices which are sold inexpensively by the City. Runoff is subject to penalty, which means I'd better set a timer when I turn on a hose; this multi-tasking has got to end <g>.
I just attended a Landscape Design seminar sponsored by the City (sneaked in as a ringer, since it was supposed to be for professionals, but they don't really care). Part of an extensive year-round group of seminars on all subjects connected with water-saving, xeriscapic design, non-chemical gardening, etc. Maybe Colorado should visit Santa Monica's Sustainable Environment Web site. This thing about forbidding people to collect rain water sounds really weird!
At the seminar I met a young woman (also not a professional designer) who had gone through the whole process and qualified for the grant. She showed me her place, which was still a work in progress, but well on the way to saving huge amounts of water while presenting an attractive design, appropriate for what is, basically, a desert area. (The gigantic metropolitan LA area only began to attract population when Mulholland brought the water from up North to So. Calif.)
HB
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On 7/15/2011 3:46 AM, Higgs Boson wrote:

the farmers and the down-river treaty signers? Any H20 that evaporates or gets diverted never makes it into the water table. Calling it a 'drainage fee' hides their real goal. Or maybe they are just broke, and truly need money to keep the canal banks bush-hogged, and the culverts cleared.
Yer right, I got no idea what they are thinking....
--
aem sends...


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Smitty Two wrote:

Fudge! We've already GOT requirements for building permits. Houston does not, however, have any zoning laws.
Every few years a delegation from HUD visits our city to investigate land-use patterns. What they find is that land use does not vary significantly from cities with Draconian zoning: Heavy industry is clustered in one area, light manufacturing in another, multi-family residences are on heavily-traveled streets (as are shopping centers), single family residences are off the main drags. Gas stations tend to be on corners of well-traveled intersections.
Most of the time, these visitors put on their beanies (the kind with the propeller on top) and return to Washington, no wiser than before. They write a report that no one reads and collect their consulting fee.
When it's pointed out to them that we don't have the corruption, bribery, and special-dealing often associated with zoning and zoning variances, they say: "Well, that's just not right!"
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So you live in Houston?
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wrote:

One of the main reasons Colorado doesn't allow collecting rainwater is that Colorado is only one of two states where water doesn't flow into the state. All rivers and streams flow out of the state. Water is typically scarce and the cities want to collect and process as much of it as possible. So for those states, such as CA, who rely on Colorado's water to fill those swiming pools, be thankful for where you get it from.
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hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net wrote:

Yeah, it has its ups and downs. Our big cultural event is the annual livestock show and rodeo with 2.25 million people attending this past February (outstripping the total attendance of our three professional sports teams).
Don't know whether to count that as a plus or a minus... Guess it depends on whether you like chickens.
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wrote:

We have a constant battle in my area to stop some people from pouring concrete over every bit of green and brown. It makes sense to me to charge them more for sewer runoff than I pay since more water runs off their property and overloads the sewers. That certainly seems like what is happening in your area but you seem like collateral damage and I can't see why you wouldn't win on appeal.
That's really funny about it not raining since January and they're still collecting - but of course they have to build the sewers anyway so they need to get paid.
I did not mean that it's funny that it hasn't rained of course. Whether humans caused it or not (I think we certainly contributed) the weather patterns are not looking happy.
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HeyBub wrote:

The storm drain systems are designed on 100 year flood levels. It all works out on paper.... We pay a run off water fee based on lot coverage, some years the system works, some years it's not needed, some years it's not adequate. Hopefully some of the money you are paying goes to keeping that ditch clear down stream of you so water won't back up into your place when you get that hundred year flood. Want to save some money? Check your phone bill for cramming.
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Fatter Than Ever Moe wrote:

Heh! I already save bucketloads of state taxes by not playing the lottery.
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Interestingly enough, the lottery proceeds in Indiana go, to a certain extent, to pay part of the excess (errrr excise) tax on my car plates. I get more in lottery-related savings on my cars than I play. So, I look at it as though I am playing for free.
--
People thought cybersex was a safe alternative,
until patients started presenting with sexually
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Kurt Ullman wrote:

Oooh! Good point!
We should, therefore, encourage others to play the lottery thereby keeping our taxes down.
Good idea.
Back in the olden days, here's the way the "Numbers Game" worked. You would pick a number from 00 to 99 and pay the person selling the ticket ten cents. If the next day's Dow Jones average ended in the two digits you picked, you won $6.00!
Obviously the players redeemed about 60% of the total take (on average). My state pays out 62% of the revenue in prizes, which make it slightly better than the mob.
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On 7/16/2011 12:14 PM, HeyBub wrote:

When prohibition ended, many states saw how much the mob had been making off booze- that is the REAL reason so many states set up state liquor stores. A few decades later, they saw how much corner candy store numbers rackets and Vegas casinos were making, and decided to horn in on those too. Mob doesn't have many profit centers left.
--
aem sends...

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On 07/16/2011 02:19 PM, aemeijers wrote:

burglary, selling stolen property, selling fake medication, slavery. There's more.........
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Mysterious Traveler wrote:

There's always opportunity.
Many years ago Gillette decided to complete the switch to stainless razor blades. They had a warehouse in New Jersey chock-a-block full of "Blue Blades". Gillette contracted with a salvage company to load hundreds of thousands of pounds of these blades on a barge, tow the barge out into the Atlantic, and Davy Jones the whole business.
The barge was filled, the tug boat departed. A few hours later the barge docked at, I think they call it, a "mob pier" where the razor blades were offloaded.
These razor blades were sold, at a steep discount, to drug stores, groceries, and what-nots throughout the midwest. Gillette never did figure out why they couldn't GIVE a stainless blade away in Missouri.
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Most states rely on guns to keep the mob off their turf and only pay 50%. When I moved here, I was sorta amazed that there was no lottery. I rather like it.
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HeyBub wrote:

It's raining today, maybe that's what the $190 is for!
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So what method do you propose for paying for a storm drainage system?
Jimmie
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