What Is Affecting Our Neighborhood?
Highlands School playground will be closed from July 12, 2016- Aug 17, 2016 due to the roofing construction work that is in progress.
History of the CSCSD, our sewer district.
By Wil Pinney
Following the end of World War II, California, and particularly San Mateo, were faced with a daunting housing crisis: housing for thousands of new citizens flooding into our county, all needing a place to live. Land was available to build houses, but water needed to be brought to the tracts where the new housing was going up. In the Highlands area of San Mateo County, tap water was provided by the California Water Service, a closely held family corporation that bought treated water from the San Francisco Water Department, which was overseen by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The wastewater management was placed under the control of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, which joined it with the wastewater treatment system of the City of San Mateo via the Hillsborough trunk lines.
The homes in the Highlands, Hillsborough, and upper San Mateo areas were located in terrain at elevations high enough to permit the outflow of wastewater by gravity through to the City of San Mateo’s sewer system and Treatment Plant, thus obviating the need for expensive construction and maintenance of pumping stations. The main sewer trunk lines were constructed to keep up with the new housing construction despite challenges posed by unstable soils on hillside properties in earthquake country. As fiscal complexities arose, a district was formed modeled after similar districts in the County and designated Crystal Springs County Sanitation District (CSCSD).
The articles of agreement of this four-part District, made up of the City of San Mateo, the Town of Hillsborough, the Crystal Springs County Sanitation District, and the County of San Mateo; dealt primarily with questions of fairness in sharing costs of operating the individual members’ wastewater system, planning and implementing additional lines within individual sections of the District, and so forth.
In 1978, when Proposition 13 was passed and implemented, adequate funds were no longer available to properly operate the District. Each member of the District arranged for its own method of raising monies necessary for operating its part of the District. To overly simplify, each segment of the four used some form of user fee to raise necessary funds to run its own costs of the District and contribute, in the case of the Highlands area lying on both sides of Polhemus Road, to an equitable share of the downstream costs of Hillsborough’s system as well as a fair share of the costs of the San Mateo City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. In general, this system was acceptable to most residents in the unincorporated areas, but as inflation continued, user fees also continued to rise, and dissatisfaction with the services of the County Public Works Department was voiced until finally homeowners took advantage of Proposition 218, freezing sewer rates.
Public meetings were held, compromises were reached, homeowner study groups were formed and continue to meet on a regular basis with representatives of San Mateo County Public Works. One recent outcome of those meetings was the investigation of the meters used to determine the cost-setting by City of San Mateo.
According to recent third party testing, upstream wastewater homeowner users (including the Highlands) have been, and are still being, unfairly charged for excessively high usage of services. Exactly how that discovery will finally be corrected is currently being considered by your joint homeowner/Public Works Department study sessions. As this process continues, we’ll keep you informed.