(Sacramento) – Legislation that would ensure equitable representation on the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Board has been introduced by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). The proposal, AB 1220, seeks to adjust 80 year-old board representation allocation formula that is property value based and, therefore, favors more affluent areas. The bill idea was selected as the 2019 winner of the Assemblywoman’s 2019 There Ought to Be a Law Contest and suggested by the Central Basin Municipal Water District.
“Our public water system representation should not be based on an elitist allocation system,” said Assemblywoman Garcia. “Representation should be based on a more equitable standard, like population, utilizing the MWD services. Your home value shouldn’t make your voice any more or less important.”
When MWD was formed, the number of seats and voting weight a member agency would have on the Board was determined by assessed valuation of that service areas’ property taxes. However, MWD is no longer funded through property taxes making the seat determination assessment disproportionately weighted towards newer, more affluent member areas with higher property values. The impact of this board structure unequally falls on the more established, working class communities, including those of AD 58.
“The current board representation structure is simply outdated and does not provide balanced representation and equal opportunity for all regions served by MWD,” added Garcia. “Decision making must be representative of the people in the community, not the property values of the homes within those communities.”
As is, the existing representation formula for MWD would cause Central Basin Municipal Water District to potentially lose one of two seats based simply on a lower property assessment valuation even though they service a much larger population than other agencies with only one seat.
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.