How long have you lived in Los Altos Hills? 6 years
What is your background experience in local government and community leadership?
In addition to my four years on the Purissima Hills board, I served on
the town council's Water Conservation Advisory Committee. I've also
been a classroom volunteer in a local public elementary school. I've
been active in the county Libertarian Party, and have helped the Silicon
Valley Taxpayers Association draft ballot arguments against tax
How does your professional experience compliment your work on the Purissima Hills Water District board?
In my software engineering career in Silicon Valley, I've experienced
first-hand the importance of customer service and controlling expenses.
Analytical and problem-solving skills have also proved useful in my
board service. However, the main qualification for a candidate is having
a policy compass of governance principles, along with the diligence to
apply those principles.
To a new resident of Los Altos Hills or someone from outside of our
area, how would you describe what the Purissima Hills Water District
The District provides potable water and firefighting levels of water pressure to every address within its boundaries.
Why are you running for re-election to the Purissima Hills Water district?
To help ensure that the District runs efficiently and respects the property rights of the ratepayer-owners of the district.
There are four candidates for three open seats. Why should voters choose you?
Voters should choose me if they agree with my principles and
priorities. My principles are rooted in property rights. You as a
ratepayer own a share of Purissima's two main assets: $20M of
pipes/tanks, and the right to buy 1.62M gallons/day of water from SFPUC
(the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission). For each household,
that's $10K and 780 gallons/day. I defend those property rights,
including the right to use the water you buy as you wish (as long as it
doesn't harm the rest of us). Ideally, I would like you to be able to
sell the water you don't use to community members who want to buy more
than their share, so that you could profit from your conservation
My priorities are to maintain reliable and cost-effective water supply
while exploring alternative arrangements for water sourcing and
What are the greatest challenges associated with water supply locally?
Purissima's entire supply currently comes from SFPUC's Hetch Hetchy
system. We've spent years pursuing other potential sources: well water,
Quarry Lake water, recycled water from Palo Alto to our North, and
county water from Cal Water to our South. None of these options has yet
proved workable, though we are still talking to Cal Water.
In recent years Purissima was using nearly 125% of its SFPUC allocation,
even as the overall Hetch Hetchy system was approaching its capacity
limits. However, as SFPUC has raised wholesale rates to pay for
long-deferred seismic upgrades, the rising prices have caused system
demand to fall sharply, and there is no longer any imminent prospect of
Purissima being limited to just its allocation. Nevertheless, we've
tried to buy additional allocation from other agencies that are SFPUC
customers, but none is for sale at a reasonable price.
We also consider conservation to be a valid water "source", and so we
continue our conservation programs and tiered pricing. We've
successfully cut our usage to 105% of SFPUC allocation.
Can you highlight your accomplishments on the PHWD Board?
A Sacramento law was going to make the Hills adopt 33 pages of default
irrigation rules. I proposed an alternative that added a simple water
budget to the town's permitting process, leaving property owners free to
decide how to meet their budget. The town adopted my alternative.
Another accomplishment has been to question an expensive project to make
Quarry Lake an emergency water source. When you look hard at the range
of scenarios in which that water could actually be useful, it seems that
this insurance is just not worth the price.
Why do you deserve to be re-elected to the board?
Re-election should not be considered a reward for past performance.
Voters should vote for whomever they expect will best implement the
voter's principles and priorities. Of course, past performance can be a
useful predictor of those principles and priorities.
What goals would you like the PHWD board to set for the next four years? Are there any long-term goals?
Our goals over the next four years should be to 1) continue our capital
spending program to improve seismic reliability and operational
efficiency, and 2) explore alternative arrangements for water supply and
For the long-term, I would like to see Purissima extract itself from the
unsound CalPERS retirement system, or at least remain vigilant about
keeping our retiree obligations explicit, cost-contained, and fully
funded. I would also like Purissima ratepayer-owners to have explicit
ownership of their shares of the system -- i.e. the infrastructure
buy-in share and the right-to-buy share of Purissima's SFPUC
allocation. Ratepayers who buy less than their share could potentially
turn a net profit on their water bill. This would promote conservation,
and would get the District out of the business of setting conservation