Oroville Voters Oppose Proposed Eminent Domain Takeover

Nearly Eight in Ten Oppose Costly Government Takeover of Cal Water

Voters in Oroville are overwhelmingly opposed to a proposal to use eminent domain to take over the local water company, Cal Water, according to a new citywide public opinion survey conducted by Goodwin Simon Research and released today by Cal Water. The results show that 52% of voters object to a local government agency taking over the water system from Cal Water, with only 29% favoring it. Opposition grows even starker when voters learn more about the costs associated with a government takeover and that a local government agency would have to use eminent domain to seize Cal Water’s business and property, with 79% opposing a takeover and only 14% favoring it.

“These stark results show that the handful of activists that have proposed taking over Cal Water’s business, property, and service area are truly out of step with the voters of Oroville,” Cal Water spokesperson Shannon Dean said. “The people of Oroville recognize that a government takeover of the water system that will cost tens of millions of dollars—and millions more for lawyers—will result in substantially higher water rates and taxes.”

Dean explained that the results also show that voters in Oroville are generally opposed to government agencies using eminent domain to seize private property, with 82% opposing the government use of eminent domain—a process that is not subject to a vote of the people.

“Cal Water has owned the water system in Oroville since 1927, making us one of the community’s oldest businesses. The only legal means for anyone else to begin serving our customers is to try to seize our business and property using eminent domain. Clearly, the voters in Oroville vehemently disapprove of this type of government overreach,” Dean said. “After taxpayers in Claremont, California, were saddled with millions in legal bills due to their City Council’s failed attempt to take over their local water company, it is understandable why voters in Oroville do not support the local activists who are clamoring for a government takeover of Cal Water.”

Methodology and Funding

Cal Water asked Goodwin Simon Strategic Research to conduct a telephone survey of voters living in Oroville to explore attitudes about a possible use of eminent domain to take over the water system by a local government agency. Goodwin Simon Strategic Research conducted a telephone survey with 301 registered voters in Oroville between January 8 and January 11, 2017. Interviews were conducted using both landline and wireless numbers. The margin of error is about plus or minus 5.5% at a 95% confidence level. The cost of the survey was not paid by Cal Water’s ratepayers.