Visalia Voters Opposed to Proposed Eminent Domain Takeover

Two-to-One Opposition to Costly Government Takeover of Cal Water

Voters are overwhelmingly opposed to the City of Visalia’s proposed government takeover of the water system, according to a new citywide public opinion survey conducted by Goodwin Simon Research and released today by Cal Water. The poll results show that 53% of voters object to the City seizing the water system from Cal Water, with only 27% favoring a government takeover. The disparity grows even further when voters learn more about the impacts a government takeover would have on water rates, taxes, and water quality, with 68% opposing a takeover and only 22% favoring it.

“These stark results show that the City Council is truly out of step with the voters of Visalia,” Cal Water spokesperson Shannon Dean said. “The people of Visalia recognize that a government takeover of the water system that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, resulting in substantially higher water rates, taxes, or both, is extremely risky given that the City has absolutely zero experience or expertise providing customers with safe, reliable drinking water.”

Dean explained that the poll results also show that voters are opposed to the City using its power of eminent domain to take over Cal Water’s property, with 77% agreeing that it is wrong for a government agency to use eminent domain against a private business without serious cause.

“Our water system is not for sale; the City would have to use its power of eminent domain to seize it. Understandably, the residents of Visalia vehemently disapprove of this type of government overreach,” Dean said. “It is clear that voters do not agree with the actions of the City Council, and know that they will end up paying more for lower quality service if politicians put themselves in charge of the water system.”

Cal Water serves about 132,200 people through 42,400 service connections in Visalia. The company has provided water service in the area since 1927.

Methodology and Funding

Cal Water asked Goodwin Simon Strategic Research to conduct a telephone survey of voters living in Visalia to explore attitudes about a possible use of eminent domain to take over the water system by the municipal government. Goodwin Simon Strategic Research conducted a telephone survey with 403 registered voters in Visalia between November 13 and November 17, 2015. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish, using both landline and wireless numbers. The margin of error is about plus or minus 5% at a 95% confidence level. The cost of the public opinion survey was not paid by Cal Water’s ratepayers.

Memorandum on Key Findings from Visalia Voter Survey