To efficiently provide dependable drinking water delivery and wastewater collection services to Vandenberg Village residents, with a commitment to customer service.
Vandenberg Village Community Services District was established in 1983 as a local government agency under California Government Code Section 61000, et seq., for the purpose of providing water and wastewater services to the community of Vandenberg Village, an unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County north of Lompoc. It is governed by a Board of five locally elected directors. Vandenberg Village Community Services District currently provides service to approximately 2,600 connections.
Vandenberg Village is located in the Lompoc Valley, at the westerly (downstream) end of the Santa Ynez River Basin, in Santa Barbara County. The valley is known for its productive agriculture, with particular emphasis on commercial flower production. Seasonally, the valley is decorated with a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors as the flower crops come into bloom. Vandenberg Space Force Base, one of the nation's key space launch facilities, is a neighbor of the Village. Periodically, rocket launches are observable by the local residents. The Vandenberg Village Community Services District currently provides water and wastewater service to approximately 2,600 connections in Vandenberg Village.
In 1960, Vandenberg Utilities Company and Vandenberg Disposal Company were formed to provide water and sewer services to the Vandenberg Village area. In 1973, these two companies were authorized by the Public Utilities Commission to merge into Park Water Company to obtain the needed financial influence to join the City of Lompoc in the construction of a regional wastewater system. In June of 1974, Park Water Company entered into an agreement with the City of Lompoc and participated in the construction of the Lompoc Valley Regional Wastewater Management System. Not long afterward, sewer rates increased by 150 percent even though the construction was primarily financed by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Frustrated with the quality of local water and after being faced with some of the highest water and sewer rates in the State, Vandenberg Village property owners formed the Vandenberg Village Association Water and Sewer Committee. This Committee engaged consultants who determined it would be feasible to form a community services district to purchase Park Water Company, to capitalize on the tax-exempt status offered to publicly-owned utilities and gain local control over its management. In 1983, residents petitioned the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and held an election in which voters approved the formation of a community services district with 1673 in favor and 253 against. Thereafter, the first five-member Board of Directors was elected to serve the District. Those directors were Jack Gabus, Howard Grantz, Charles McKenna III, Jock Sutherland, and Glenn Welch.
The first attempt to purchase Park Water Company failed. Residents passed a $4 million bond measure in 1985 when 1,979 out of 2,180 ballots cast favored the measure. However, on July 29, 1987, the PUC appraised the utility at a higher rate than the VVCSD had anticipated, and a new bond election was then necessary. On June 28, 1988, despite opposition, the District's voters authorized an additional $1.4 million bond issue for the acquisition of Park Water Company. At midnight on December 1, 1988, Park Water Company and VVCSD finally entered into an agreement for the purchase of water and sewer systems at the sale price of $3,985,755.
The District currently operates 32 miles of water distribution system, three groundwater wells, one 500,000-gallon tank reservoir, one 300,000-gallon tank reservoir, two 1,000,000-gallon tank reservoirs, three booster stations, two pressure-reducing stations, and a pressure filter treatment system. The District utilizes standby diesel generators to maintain normal operations during power outages.
The District also operates 29 miles of wastewater collection system, with four pumping lift stations and 574 manholes. Until 1978, wastewater treatment was also provided locally. Since then, the Village's wastewater system has been connected to the Lompoc Regional Wastewater Reclamation Plant (LRWRP) for treatment and disposal. The District has a contractual entitlement to 0.89 million gallons per day (MGD), 16.18 percent, of Lompoc's 5.5 MGD plant capacity.
Special Districts are the most numerous, and least understood, of all governments. A Special District is a separate local governmental agency formed to provide local, highly diverse services including water, closed captioned television, mosquito abatement, and fire protection. Some Special Districts can serve just a single purpose, such as sewage treatment, while others address a multiplicity of needs, as in the case of a Community Services District, which can offer up to 15 different services. Special Districts are local agencies which provide public services to specific communities. They are autonomous government entities and are accountable only to the voters they serve. They are, however, overseen by the state in that they must submit annual financial statements to the State Controller and they must follow state laws pertaining to public health, bonded indebtedness, record keeping, and elections.
Special Districts have corporate powers but rarely police powers. "Corporate power" is the ability to "do things," like constructing public works projects such as dams and sewers and to raise money to pay for these projects and services. "Police power" is the ability to regulate behavior. Governments that make rules and enforce them are using their police powers: zoning property, requiring business licenses, or setting speed limits. When Special Districts do have police powers, they are usually related to some corporate powers.
One way Special Districts are separated is by type of governing body. Dependent Districts are governed by existing legislative bodies, either a city council or county board of supervisors. Independent Districts are governed by a separate Board of Directors elected by the District's own voters. Sixty-six percent of Special Districts are Independent. Vandenberg Village Community Services District is an Independent District governed by a five-member Board of Directors elected by the voters of Vandenberg Village.
Many people disagree over the usefulness of Special Districts. Before you make up your own mind, consider these arguments.
Special Districts tailor services to citizen demand.
Cities and counties must protect their residents' health, safety, and welfare and thus must provide many services, regardless of citizen demand. Special Districts, however, only provide the services desired by the community.
Special Districts link costs to benefits.
General purpose local governments, such as cities and counties, tax their residents to pay for public services. The services that taxpayers receive are not related to the amount of taxes they pay. In a Special District, only those who benefit from District services pay for them. Those who do not benefit do not pay.
Special Districts are responsive to their constituencies.
Because Special Districts are usually smaller and less populated than counties and cities, they can be more responsive to their constituents. Small groups of citizens can be quite effective in influencing Special Districts' decisions.
Special Districts can lead to inefficiency.
Many Special Districts provide the same services that cities and counties provide. Overlapping jurisdictions can create competition and conflict between Special Districts, and also between Districts and general purpose governments. In addition, when areas incorporate, Local Agency Formation Commissions do not dissolve the Special Districts within the new city boundaries, which may result in duplicating services.
Special Districts can hinder regional planning.
Numerous Special Districts can hamper planning efforts. For example, it can be difficult to organize the various water, sewer, and irrigation services in one region to provide an optimal and equal level of services for all residents. Since many Special Districts have independent and autonomous governing boards, there is no single agency which can guarantee a coordination of efforts.
Special Districts can lessen accountability.
The multiplicity of limited purpose Special Districts can make it harder for citizens to gather information. For example, a county's unincorporated area might have a large number of Special Districts providing public services. Furthermore, the narrow and technical nature of District activities often results in Special Districts with low visibility unless a crisis arises. Special District elections typically have very low voter turnout. Although some view low voter turnout as a sign of voter satisfaction, representative democracy requires broad participation to survive.