The Stinson Beach County Water District approved a rationing ordinance on Saturday that includes a quickly escalating fine system and allowances for full-time residents and residences with second units. The ordinance, whose terms were drafted over several months, will take effect only if the town’s supply drops below 70 percent of capacity for seven consecutive days. At that point, households will be capped at an average of 125 gallons a day. Those who live in town for over half the year and have more than three household members will be eligible to apply for larger allotments of up to 185 gallons a day; meters that serve both a primary home and a second unit can apply for a 250-gallon allotment. But part-timers would be barred from asking for more—and this in a town where over half the homes are either second homes or vacation rentals, and where the population can double in summer months. At a board meeting this spring, second-homeowner Don Henderson called the approach a “prejudicial taking” that would harm property values and create a system that benefits those who vote for the district’s board members. It divides the town into two classes of people, he said. Board president Barbara Boucke at the time defended the district’s primary responsibility to full-timers. Regardless of their residential status, those who exceed their limit could rack up hundreds of dollars in fines and stop receiving water altogether. The first month exceeding the 125-gallon limit merits a warning; a second month in violation, whether consecutive or not, merits a $100 fine, plus a fee of $100 for every 100 cubic feet (or 748 gallons) used beyond the limit. A third notice comes with an $500 fine and the same extra charges. After that, a homeowner would be called to a hearing before the board, which could potentially cut off the residence’s water altogether. The district relies on the western slope of Mount Tamalpais to fill its wells and holding tanks (it does not have a reservoir) and serve its 727 water hookups; it began considering mandatory rationing last winter. On Saturday the board also passed an ordinance that limits outdoor watering to Sundays and Wednesdays, to comply with a state mandate.
This article was corrected on Aug. 25.