The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on March 7, 1991 · Page 191
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 191

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Thursday, March 7, 1991
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5SLOS ANGELES TIMES OC .THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 1991 A5 One Town's Water Rations: 10 Gallons Per Person Per Day By MILES CORWIN TIMES STAFF WRITER ORANGE COVE, Calif.-Flush your toilet twice and you've used up your daily water allotment Jake a shower and you've used it c'up for two days. Do a few loads of laundry and there goes your water for a week. " In the small San Joaquin Valley town of Orange Cove, water cutbacks have been so severe that residents have been advised to use ITio more than 10 gallons a day. The t average Los Angeles resident uses fimore than 10 times that amount. ll! Ten gallons a day is such a ?:mlnuscule amount, says many Or-liange Cove residents, that no mat--ler how much they conserve they will never be able to cut back that J'lrnuch. ih "I drink that much coffee a day," ftisaid Leroy Anderson outside the .'(town's only bank. "Ten gallons 'doesn't last long in my house." i Even city officials are skeptical 7;that it can be done in a town with no operating water meters, and no ;'feal way of enforcing reductions m among its largely low-income resi-SHents, many of whom are unemployed farm workers. ' "I realize It's pretty well impossible," said City Administrator --jAlan Bengyel, shrugging. "But, Z 'I realize it's pretty well impossible. But, s theoretically, that's all ( the water we can spare.' lit. M t- ALAN BENGYEL 53 Orange Cove city administrator theoretically, that's all the water j!,jve can spare." j0 Bengyel called for such drastic measures because he learned last month that Orange Cove, which .relies entirely on federal water sources, will receive only 10 of yts normal supplies this year. He .quickly calculated that if every j.Prange Cove resident cut back j,90, they would be down to 10.2 ggallonsaday. -i- A 90 cutback in a city's sole water supply is unprecedented in ((California, state water officials say. pT3ie Metropolitan Water District eihat serves Southern California, for example, this week ordered 50 j.cutbacks in water deliveries to agencies In April an amount de-. scribed by officials as "beyond owhat anyone would have dreamed sof." After Bengyel learned of Orange Cove's cutbacks he sent out billn-'gual notices informing residents of " their daily allotment and offering Conservation tips. But in the ab-"sence of active meters, residents "are on-the honor system, and, so yar, honor is losing out. '1 Since the water reduction announcement In mid-February, residents are still using more than an average of 80 gallons a day per 'person a cutback of only 20. At . this rate, the community will run Jgut of water by summer, Bengyel said. As a result, he is frantically searching for emergency supplies to get them through the rest of the year. While many residents say they are trying to conserve, the town's water supply is not their primary concern. More than a third of the town's 6,000 residents are unemployed as a result of the freeze last December that destroyed the area's citrus crop. And the recent water cutbacks to 'local farmers also 90 created mote unemployment because most have had to scale back their operations. Thousands of unemployed fruit pickers and packinghouse workers are months behind on their rent, utility and water bills. Many don't have enough money to buy groceries. "We could put In water meters and raise water rates, but what good would it do?" asked Mayor Victor Lopez. "There are so many people already who can't pay their water bills, we can't ask them to pay more. And because so many people are unemployed and stayipg home ... it's harder for them to conserve." Orange Cove's water cutbacks have been so severe because it receives all of its supplies from the Friant-Kern Canal, a Central Valley Project source designed primarily for agriculture. This source can provide only 10 of normal supplies .because the southern Sierraswhich feed the Friant Dam-have received a much smaller percentage of normal rainfall than the mountains farther north. The only other city that receives water from this source is Lindsay, but it has several productive wells in town that will make up for much of the cutbacks. Orange Cove, however, has minimal ground-water supplies and only about 10 of Orange Cove's residents have wells on their properties, says City Clerk Betty Hutton. So the city is considering buying water from other irrigation districts, trading reclaimed water from its sewage treatment plant for potable water and digging extremely deep wells in a search for ground water. City officials In Orange Cove, a largely Latino farming town about 35 miles southeast of Fresno, are typical of many California politicians they assumed there always would be enough water. Five years ago the city even decided to shut off all of its residential water 'meters. "Water was something you never worried about around here," said Sue Jones; former president of the Chamber of Commerce. "People just sort of took for granted that they'd have all the water they wanted." Orange Cove has a limited budget, Bengyel said. Cutting off the water meters was one way to save money, he said, by eliminating the need for meter readers. In the past, . he said, there was no incentive to conserve because the city's water .was supplied on a "use it or lose it" basis. Orange Cove received a designated amount of water each year, and, whether residents used all or a Please see RATION, A20 J525S tolcho my tZ.fcs 1 I 3b IWELAKEXA. jrE iMjfiKS DAVID HURONAKA Lot Angela Ttijlt. Sherry Webber, an administrative worker at El Tpro High and a 26-year resident of El Toro, ridicules the very idea of a new narn. EL TORO: Will It Change to Lake Forest?: Continued from Al replied that they could use Lake Forest or El Toro but must include the ZIP code. Many of the businesses and civic groups that use El Toro in their names defiantly said they will refuse to change to Lake Forest. El Toro'' Honda Service, El Toro Poodle Boutique and El Toro Mini Market all said they will keep El Toro in their signs and stationery. Asked whether he will convert El Toro Baptist Church to Lake Forest Baptist Church, the Rev. Ira F. Day replied, "Absolutely not." Of the 38 business who use El Toro, just one announced that it would change to Lake Forest. Keith Lewis, a director of El Toro Models Guild, said the change in stationery and signs would cost his company thousands of dollars, but he figures that he has little choice. "We were hoping that they stick with El Toro," he said. "But we're hi the image business, and we have to keep up with the times." Many business people said they had not heard about the final vote on the prospective city's name until midday Wednesday. "Oh, my goodness. I don't believe they did it," said Sue Wyoon, owner of El Toro Florists on El Toro Road. "That's bad news. That's terrible." Wyoon said the change would mean a loss in business, as out-of-state florists usually look for "the city florist." She said she would like to change thename of her store but cannot because there already is a Lake Forest Florist, Longtime El Toro residents said they are devastated by the name change. "It's like losing a right arm," said Ray Prothero, a former president of the Saddleback Area Historical Society. "It's either you take it like a man or cry like a baby." Prothero's family moved to the area before 1900 and became prominent citrus farmers. A reservoir in Mission Viejo bears his family name, and the Protheros also donated the land on which the El Toro Library was built Prothero said he remembers leading a campaign in the late 1980s against changing the name of the El Toro Post Office to Laguna North. "They shouldn't change the name of the library and the other institutions," he said with a breaking voice: "It will be like erasing history." In the end, residents considered the name question to be a struggle between the past and EL TORO CHARBBRSl RED "CROSS I " ' RED; CROSS ''. . '1 DLUUU UKIVt 'r'i'l fcJgWATEDBY CLASS -,JF 19BB j El Toro High Principal Don Martin worries "alumni will go bananas" with name change. the present between the residents of the planned communities of Lake Forest and the people who live in older El Toro neighborhoods. Longtime residents said they revere the history of El Toro and even the controversy surrounding its name. One version holds that the community was named when a padre's prayer for divine Intervention stopped a charging bull. Another version contends that it was named after bellowing bulls kept by Don Jose Serrano, who was granted the land in El Toro by the Mexican government. Residents of the Lake Forest planned communities say their name sounds more chic. Their district was named after several groves of eucalyptus trees and two man-made lakes created by the master developer, Occidental Petroleum, in the late 1960s. The name change is a flash point between residents of Lake Forest and El Toro. Sherry Webber, an administrative employee and 26-year El Toro resident, posted a sign on her desk near Martin's office to voice her feelings. It readi " 'New Addressil!' El Toro H.S. 25255 Toledo Way, Fake Lake, CA." Lake Forest residents voted in surprisingly large numbers to support cityhood and their name, said Bill Kraus, general manager of the Lake Forest II Master Homeowners Assn. "For some of the Lake Forest people, the name El Toro was something less than up, and coming," said Steven Stack, a Lake ForesUII resident who voted for that name. . , r , i , u, He also alluded to El Toro Marine Corps yfir Statiom "A lot of residents here did not like to.pe immediately associated with the Marine base and prefer to identify with the nice facilities here." But Godinez, the postal official, said the battle has only just begun. He pointed out that a few years ago the Sartta Margarita Co. failed in its bid to call its multimillion-dollar subdivision Santa Margarita because a San Luis Obispo County community already had the namejTtje company settled for Rancho Santa Margarita: U . According to Godinez, each day about 25 letters without ZIP codes are sent back and forth between the Lake Forest near Lake Tahoc and the one here. "As the area grows, we ae talking about hundreds of pieces of mail dailyt" he said. "That will be a disaster." cj John Davis, chairman of the Community Coalition for Incorporation in El Toro, saldlhe believes that Tuesday's vote to change the name will be binding on the new City Council. ij "We are all surprised that El Toro didn't win, but the people of El Toro have spoken," he sdld. "The City Council will have to live with it, and everyone will have to live with it." .1; Davis, a Lake Forest II resident who voteAfor El Toro, said the council should take steps!,to ensure that El Toro's history is not shunted aside with the name change. l; "They should create an old El Toro area In the new city to mitigate the loss," he said. . Davis said cityhood proponents had considered the possible conflict involving the. name but had determined that the other Lake Forest is only a subdivision of Tahoe City. He said El Toro's name change will become official Dec. 20, when incorporation becomes final. Prothero, the historian, said he hopes tBat history repeats itself and that the name remaps El Toro. In 1889, a New England developer bought most of the land in the El Toro area apd, called it Aliso City. But he was denied a post office permit because of the name's similarity-'Vo Alviso, a small town near San Jose. The name then reverted to El Toro. ' '," "I really don't know what's going to happen;" said Prothero, 67. "But as long as I'm arouncfit will always remain El Toro for me." 1 ' -' M Mayor Remains Firm in Her Gentle Reliance on Voluntary Water Cutbacks JBy AMY WALLACE "and LEONARD BERNSTEIN "TIMES STAFF WRITERS ei'. CAN DIEGO-As the first heavy itJ rain In months began to fall last . iveek, Mayor Maureen O'Connor istrongly" suggested that San Die-Igans turn off their automatic sprinkler systems. . "The mayor said the projected 'rainfall will throughly saturate the aground and preclude the need for .Watering," noted a press release 'that urged what many Southland cities have already required. Welcome to California's most 'serious drought ever, San Dlego-"slyle. While cities and water districts throughout the state have imposed tough, mandatory restric-JJons, O'Connor mayor of the Mate's second-largest city has been a stubborn holdout for voluntary cutbacks, steadfast in her Relief that conservation can be coaxed. "'. San Diego County relies upon the Metropolitan Water District for .9,5 of its water, and the MWD announced overall cutbacks of Ji0, but O'Connor is firm. r "I'm proud to be San Diego's mayor because our style is different," she said recently, explaining why the city is alone among San jllego County's 23 water districts to adopt voluntary instead of mandatory conservation, j. Let other cities impose "mean-Spirited" mandatory measures, she said, voluntary cutbacks will work gr San Diego if politicians merely "Every time we have asked San Maureen O'Connor Diegans to conserve, they have," O'Connor told the council last week as she proposed a voluntary program that she said will save 30 in March. "Yes, we are in a crisis situation. But pitting neighborhood against neighborhood is not the way to solve it" In fact, O'Connor's voluntary conservation program achieved Its goal of a 10 reduction in water use last summer. From September through December, the city never topped 5 savings. In January, San Diego residents averaged 10.3. But now some city staff members acknowledged that voluntary measures will not be enough. "That's an awful lot of savings to reach on voluntary," said John Lockwood, the former city manager, just before he retired this week. On Tuesday, San Diego County supervisors approved a mechanism that could force the city's first mandatory restrictions. Stressing that they are not eager to usurp city rights, the supervisors declared a local state of emergency to create a countywide blueprint for response to the drought. O'Connor's handling of the drought is the latest example of a brand of political leadership typified by from-the-heart appeals to fellow San Diegans, whom she considers somehow more civic minded than other Callfornlans. With little apparent interest in the nuts and bolts of governing, the mayor relies on her ability to mobilize the city's circle of wealthy and powerful, her schoolgirl charm and her instinctive knowledge of how San Diegans will respond. She loathes imposing restrictions on her public, especially ones that might crimp the famous laid-back San Diego lifestyle. Critics say O'Connor is contributing to a perception that this fast-growing city is responding too slowly to the drought. Councilman Bob Filner said his colleagues' willingness to follow O'Connor's lead has been irresponsible and constitutes "mixed signals." In sparring with Filner recently, the mayor told him: "I know you get tired of my cutesy 'I am from San Diego' approach. . . . But I would rather have too much faith in this community than too little." I SALE OF THE YEAR!! U r mwiMJifcgffiin DOORS OPPN RAT MAR Qtu OAM tsuADD .-. . vrm wnniir 4CT crime -lo-r ernuriM , uni IRQ DWI V All fUeAttf AVrA fAWO A ISHDPFARI V Ol lAMTITIBC I lurrrni pro oven Factory Invoice!. 28 pMjJTj VmLiX 11 M&uru o . n; i IIS." W.J W BgO.W7.00 JjWtall v-yv f .1 mvnt i -in i vijpjj MPiurim vr jnv mgg. Tiffany - DJa. $4 Krt ? "JJ-j I TIffiny MS tFaTlrtl Howeotaoiri jvw ALREADY BEEN REDUCED AD?ff0NAL fa Our f?nttn Mass Qlnn hue LOST ITS LEASE. 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