Homeowners may want to pay attention to an assessment recently done on their property to measure the “imperviousness” of their soil.
In layman’s terms, that means how readily the soil can absorb stormwater runoff. Landscaping tends to be water-friendly, while cement and hardscape sends runoff straight to the storm drains.
The City of Santa Clarita sent out a notice last month outlining its new method of calculating the annual Stormwater Pollution Prevention Fee. In it, property owners were advised that the updated formula of calculating the fee was actually less than the one used by the county in the past.
But for several homeowners, especially those in Sand Canyon, the re-calculation factor was lopsided and would cost them much more than they had been paying.
Homeowner Mike Naoum manually calculated his fee, measuring his hardscape and found that it was less than the City’s estimated percentage of 23 percent of his property.
Naoum send out an e-mail to his neighbors advising them of the new calculations and recommending that they do their own measuring.
Travis Lange of the city’s Environmental Services department said that homeowners do have the right to request an individual assessment, but warned that the costs of those inspections could drive up costs in the long run.
“They’ve always had the ability to dispute their assessment,” he said. “Sometimes adjustments are made, but they’re not always in the property owners’ favor.”
Lange said that the county’s hydrology manual goes into much more detail as to how much water the soil can absorb and that homeowners should not assume it’s a question of cement or lawn.
He also said that homeowners have the ability to protest the adjustment in the fee by attending or filing a letter of protest with the city on or before a public meeting at 6 p.m. May 26, when the City is holding a public meeting to discuss the issue. The meeting will be held in City Council Chambers.
“They need to remember it’s actually two issues: having their own property reassessed and protecting the adjustment,” he said. “That’s why we have the public process.”