The Santa Barbara City Council is poised to vote on a moratorium relating to the issuance of building permits for the construction of new swimming pools at their next meeting on May 5th at 6:00pm. Although the California Pool & Spa Association (CPSA) has submitted a letter of opposition and materials that demonstrate a prohibition would provide no meaningful water savings yet effectively put a $5 billion industry out of business, we must still amplify our position to the members of the council, and so we are putting out a call to action to our members.
The city Planning Commission recommended the moratorium relating to new pool construction to the members of the city council, yet acknowledge in their report that the restriction would be largely symbolic. At the same time, they recommend that the council not implement a suspension on permits for projects with net new water use because the water savings benefit would be much less than the impact to the economy! The city of Santa Barbara currently requires residents to equip their pool or spa with a cover. Thus, residents who own swimming pools are providing water savings comparable to drought resistant landscaping. If the drought were to end in the upcoming year, this proposal would only serve to leave employees and employers unemployed. If the drought were to persist into the years ahead, the proposal would actually result in less water savings than what swimming pools with covers would provide. At the same time, residents are still able to maintain and keep their lawns green.
Swimming pools are not water wasters, they save tens of thousands of gallons of water compared to the traditional landscaping they replace, generate substantial local and state revenue through taxes, and provide the highest economic impact of any industry per acre-foot of water with the exception of high-tech. Independent studies have shown that newly-constructed swimming pools save more than 10,000 gallons of water during their first year alone and 30,000 gallons a year thereafter. Furthermore, data from water districts like Santa Margarita have determined that a pool with a cover significantly reduces evaporation and results in less water being used than even drought-resistant landscaping over a five year period. In some regions, pool and spa businesses who survived the Great Recession are now unfairly forced to shoulder the burden of drought restrictions by often being the only industry that is effectively put out of business.
If you work or have colleagues in the Santa Barbara area, it is important that you attend the meeting at 6:00pm next Tuesday to voice your opposition during the public comment period and describe to the council the impact this restriction would impose on you or your business. Please take the time to attend the meeting at 6:00pm on Tuesday, May 5th, at City Hall located at 735 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. Below, you can find links to are important facts relating to the minimal water used by swimming pools and other key points that suggest a moratorium would only harm the region. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 916-447-4113 if you have any questions or need additional information.