Staff Repeatedly Claims Town Submitted State-Required Reports Since 2015. It Didn't.


We'll be honest, our Fact Checks on occasion don't require being proactive when the Town makes untruths pretty obvious. Sometimes those will come through nonsensical staff reports and other times they'll occur when someone "spins a yarn" during public meetings.


The most recent occurred during Planning Commission and Town Council reviews and approvals of a somewhat arcane state-mandated ordinance associated with landscaping and water conservation called MWELO.


In both of its staff reports to the Planning Commission (1/4/22 here) and to the Town Council (1/12/22 here), staff stated "Since 2015, the Town of Moraga has been tracking and submitting to the California 31 Department of Water Resources" and "Since 2015, the Town has reported the required findings to DWR on an annual basis."


Both statements are false.


Our review of the California Department of Water Resources records found no Town report submissions from 2015 through 2019 and neither did a separate check by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The NRDC even sent the Town letters in May and November 2019 indicating the Town's failure to comply with the state's regulations and urging the Town to file its missing reports.


Following up, we submitted a public records request to the Town asking for the reports it claimed to have submitted since 2015, and received only a single report for 2020 with no further comment or information on those from 2015-2019. A second inquiry didn't yield the missing reports, instead eliciting a short message from the Planning Director stating "many communities were not submitting reports to DWR."

Having thrice brought this to the attention of the Planning Department, Town Clerk and additionally to the Town Council, during the Town Council Meeting on January 12, the Planning Director acknowledged the "error" in the staff reports, confirming that the Town had not submitted the required reports as it had repeatedly asserted to the Planning Commission, Town Council, and interested residents.


This marks the 10th failure out of 10 fact checks we've conducted.


[update 1/13: during the Town Council meeting on 1/12 and following the public record requests and subsequent resident emails/observations about these reports being entirely missing, the Planning Director acknowledged the "error" in both staff reports]

 

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