The Public Utilities Commission operates the Water, Clean Water and Power Utilities of the City and County of San Francisco. Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System is an irreplaceable asset of the people of the City and County of San Francisco. The system is fundamental to the economic vitality of San Francisco and the Bay Area. The voters of the City and County of San Francisco are committed to preserving and protecting the system as well as safeguarding the extraordinary quality of the water from Yosemite and local watersheds. The voters find that the protection, maintenance and repair of the system are among their highest priorities.
San Francisco faces an unprecedented challenge: to restore its aging water system to ensure a reliable Bay Area water supply through the next century. Repairs must be accomplished as quickly as possible to avoid system outages, which could be caused by natural disasters such as earthquake. In planning for its future needs and those of its wholesale customers, the City must promote water conservation and responsible stewardship of its natural resources. The effectiveness of the City’s Public Utilities Commission, which has jurisdiction over the system, is essential to achieving these goals.
In addition, San Francisco must upgrade and repair its clean water system to meet changes in state and federal water quality requirements, and to ensure reliability of the system, parts of which are outdated, aged or seismically vulnerable. The voters find that the operation of the clean water system should not unnecessarily place a disproportionate environmental burden on any community.
This measure is intended to enhance public confidence in the City’s stewardship of public utilities by:
1. Clarifying that the Public Utilities Commission has exclusive control of water, clean water and power assets owned or maintained by the City and County of San Francisco;
2. Establishing rates sufficient to meet operation, maintenance and financial needs of the system based on costs and sound budgeting and auditing procedures to protect retail ratepayers and reduce interest paid on bonds and other indebtedness while ensuring public review;
3. Establishing the Public Utilities Commission as an independent revenue department not subject to undue financial pressures to contribute to the City’s general fund;
4. Requiring the development of long term Capital, Financial and Strategic Plans to ensure that the utilities are operated efficiently in accordance with best public utility practice;
5. Authorizing the Public Utilities Commission to independently enter into certain contracts;
6. Giving the Public Utilities Commission the ability to finance needed capital improvements through revenue bonds or other financing methods consistent with the powers of other major public utilities in California; and
7. Promoting labor stability to ensure that the Capital Improvement Plan is completed expeditiously and efficiently.
(Added November 2002)