Meeting Date:

October 17, 2005





David A. Berger,




General Manager

Line Item No.:




Prepared By:

Stephanie Pintar

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Review:  Yes

Committee Recommendation:  N/A

CEQA Compliance:  District is Responsible Agency under Section 15096 of the CEQA Guidelines


SUMMARY:  Mr. Steve Mirabito is appealing a decision of the General Manager denying a finding of “special circumstances” as allowed by District Rule 24-G for a 62,900 square-foot (453 unit) self-storage facility in Carmel Valley (Storage Pro Self Storage Facility).  Mr. Mirabito’s appeal application is shown at Exhibit 11-A.  The District’s April 8, 2005 denial of special circumstances is shown at Exhibit 11-B.  Mr. Mirabito contends that the proposed self-storage facility qualifies for special circumstances because “the District’s demand figure for storage facilities is outdated and based on high flow fixtures and non-drought tolerant landscaping.” 


In late September, Mr. Mirabito supplemented information he had submitted related to other self-storage facilities for the District’s consideration.  Exhibit 11-C provides the September 27, 2005 cover letter from Roger Fry of CDM, a consultant hired by Mr. Mirabito to review self-storage water use.  The cover letter supports his estimate that the self-storage facility proposed by Mr. Mirabito will use approximately 0.145 AFA.  The supplemental information referenced in Mr. Fry’s letter is available for review at the District office. 


District Rule 24-G allows the Board to make an adjustment to the connection charge (and corresponding water demand calculation) based upon projected use figures which are clearly more accurate and reliable (based upon historical use or other hard documentation) than the District’s factor.  District staff has reviewed the information recently provided by the applicant, and supports a modification to the self-storage factor based on the records of water use at other self-storage facilities as provided in the applicant’s report.  A comprehensive spreadsheet prepared by staff is attached as Exhibit 11-D.  This spreadsheet presents a number of alternative possible water factors using the information provided by the applicant. 


The water use estimate presented by Mr. Fry for the Carmel Valley self-storage facility is based on estimated toilet flushes and other water uses.  Staff does not support this method for calculating water use.  Mr. Fry’s estimate is a “best case” scenario for water use and does not reflect potential use such as multiple-flushing of toilets or leaks.  While staff hopes that Mr. Fry’s estimate is achievable, the District has issued water permits based on a “capacity theory” since the mid-1980’s.  Therefore, staff recommends the use of a factor based on the average water use for a number of similar facilities, as has been provided in Exhibit 11-D.


RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends that the Board find that special circumstances exist for the proposed self-storage facility and that the appropriate water use factor is 0.0008 AFA/storage unit.  By taking this action, the Board acknowledges that special circumstances exist, and that the adjustment is “based upon projected use figures which are clearly more accurate and reliable (based upon historical use or other hard documentation).” 


Staff recommends using the water factor of 0.0008 AFA/storage unit that is derived from metered records from the facilities provided by the applicant, with the exceptions of the San Francisco and the Stockton storage facilities.  The San Francisco facilities had storage units that were considerably smaller on average than the other facilities (around 60 square-feet vs. 130 square-feet per unit).  The Stockton storage facility, when adjusted to eliminate the maximum applied (exterior) water allowance (a.k.a. MAWA) was a negative number.  The remaining facilities were similar in square-footage per storage unit.  Supplemental water use for manager’s residences (estimated at 0.087 AFA for a single bathroom residence with kitchen and laundry – with additional time staff could verify the number of bathrooms and refine this number) and the MAWA calculation based on square-footage of landscaped areas were subtracted from the water record history.  From this final calculation, square-footage and per unit factors were determined.


Staff recommends using a per unit water factor to more accurately estimate potential water demand for self-storage facilities.  This recommendation, which is supported in Mr. Fry’s March 17, 2005 summary, is made under the assumption that indoor water use is primarily based upon the number of rental units.  The number of rentable storage units has a direct affect on the number of people that will visit the facility on a given day, and therefore has an impact on the water used by the facility.  Other water uses result from employee use for such things as lunch-room food/beverage preparation, office/restroom use and cleaning, and outside cleaning. 


Although two of the sample facilities had separately metered interior and “irrigation” meters which were reviewed both separately and as part of the overall analysis to obtain a factor per unit for self-storage, staff found that because of the disparity in water use between the two, using only the two samples with two meters would not be a defensible estimate of water use capacity.  For this reason, water use from five of the six larger unit self-storage facilities was included in the factor, with accessory uses (i.e. exterior maximum water use and manager unit water use) removed.  The sixth sample, the Stockton facility, was removed because the adjustment for maximum outdoor water use resulted in a negative number. 


Using the staff’s recommended factor of 0.0008 AFA/storage unit, the project, as submitted to the District, is estimated to have a water use capacity of 0.362 AFA (for 453 storage units).  No additional increment of water for exterior use is necessary, as the property is currently occupied by both residential and commercial uses and has established exterior use credit.  Credit available to the site upon demolition of the existing residential and commercial uses will be 0.301 AFA.  Therefore, the proposed project will require an additional increment of water (0.061 AFA) to support the project as proposed.  If the staff recommended factor is approved, the applicant has the option of proceeding with a self-storage project of 376 units with the same proposed square-footage.


If the Board supports the proposed factor of 0.0008 AFA/storage unit for all future self-storage unit applications, a future Board action item is required amend Table II.  Staff recommends the Board take this action to allow consistent water permit calculations for self-storage facilities that do not propose manager’s residences.  If a manager’s residence is proposed, staff would use the residential fixture unit calculation to augment the “per unit” water demand estimate.


The Board should deny any further reduction in the water use capacity estimate for Storage Pro Self Storage in Carmel Valley based on the findings made by staff in analyzing the information submitted by the applicant.  Staff does not believe there are “special circumstances with substantial uncertainty” to warrant a non-factored water use estimate for the proposed facility.  Should the Board believe this not to be the case, this item should be continued to the following meeting to allow staff to prepare an appropriate staff report addressing “special circumstances with substantial uncertainty.”



The Monterey County Board of Supervisors, as CEQA Lead Agency, approved the Mirabito self-storage project on January 23, 2004.  The project considered by the County was a phased project, with the Phase One involving 1,109 square-feet of office use and 29,916 square-feet of mini-storage; Phase Two consisted of 33,574 square-feet of mini-storage.  The County relied on a Mitigated Negative Declaration filed on August 28, 2003.  It appears that the project was phased to account for inadequate water on the property using the District’s current self-storage factor and other factors.  Based on the evidence in the record, staff finds that the project reviewed as the subject of this appeal is substantially the same project as was reviewed by the County when Use Permit (PLN980301) was approved.  Board action to approve the finding of special circumstances shall include a determination that the District has considered and relied upon the County’s Negative Declaration.


BACKGROUND: Water permits for nonresidential water uses are based on estimated water demand capacity.  The water demand capacity is usually determined by using regional averages derived from water use records from other similar or identical uses that are broken down into water use per square-foot or other measurements.  In situations where the proposed project is unique, or where there is limited information about the water used by the proposed project, staff may request information from the project proponent, including water use records for other businesses of the same type from other areas and/or professional water use analyses.  This information is then verified by staff to determine the appropriate water demand and the appropriate connection charge for a project.  The last update to the commercial factors occurred in 1992.


Updating the commercial water use factors was part of the Strategic Initiative approved by the Board in 2002 to “Revise the Water Permit Processes.”  In 2003, the Water Demand Committee recommended that staff pursue other components of the initiative, including the database upgrade, before the water use factors are updated.  Staff was directed to improve the data management systems and prepare a policies and procedures manual.  Updating the commercial water use records was listed as third priority, based on a number of potential difficulties in achieving the goal, including access to water records and the inability to adequately query the current permit database.


The Mirabito self-storage project was preliminarily reviewed by District staff in 1999, and again in March 2000, at the request of Monterey County Planning and Building Inspection Department.  In 2000, staff responded to an Initial Study and verified the water use factors that would be used to determine the credit and demand associated with the proposed change in use from a potter’s studio and single-family dwelling to a self-storage facility and caretaker’s unit.  In correspondence to Monterey County Supervising Planner, Jeff Main, dated March 3, 2000, District staff emphasized the (current) water use factors that would be applied to the self-storage facility project when it was reviewed by the District.  The letter refers to two alterative water demand estimates proposed by Mr. Roger Fry of Camp, Dresser & McKee.  One proposal was dated October 24, 1999, and was presented on CDM letterhead, and the second was dated March 1, 2000, and was not on CDM letterhead.  At that time, District staff stated:  “Please note that Mr. Fry’s analysis did not utilize the District’s procedures for calculating existing water demand and projecting future water demand on the property.”  The District’s response continues with a discussion on the District’s method for calculating commercial water demand for the proposed self-storage facility project. 


More recently, on September 23, 2004, District staff commented on the Monterey County Planning and Building Inspection Department proposed Vesting Tentative Map (PLN 020280) for the Mirabito project.  The project is essentially the same project that was preliminary reviewed in 1999 and 2000.  Based on the description of the project, District staff notified the County that the proposed project would fall entirely under the District’s standard water factor for self-storage.    


11-A    Appeal Request

11-B    District’s April 8, 2005 Denial of Special Circumstances

11-C    September 27, 2005 Letter from Roger Fry of CDM

11-D    District-Generated Spreadsheet Summarizing Review of Information