San Diego’s water billing system has problems. City Councilman Carl DeMaio wanted to do something about it. In the wake of the latest news story on residents’ frustrations, DeMaio, who’s also running for mayor, asked colleague David Alvarez this week to hold a committee hearing on the issue.

“As elected leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that taxpayers and ratepayers receive the level of customer service that they deserve, and we are currently not measuring up,” DeMaio said in a Tuesday memo to Alvarez.

Yesterday, Alvarez declined DeMaio’s request. Why? Because Alvarez, who chairs the natural resources committee, already held a hearing on the water billing problems last month.

DeMaio, a committee member, might have known about the discussion had he been there. A video recording shows DeMaio chatting with colleague Lorie Zapf, and then packing up his laptop and walking out just as Alvarez was introducing the topic. You can see DeMaio in the upper left corner around the 1 hour, 13 minute mark of the tape. The discussion on the billing problems lasted 45 minutes.

Update: Now you can watch it below.

YouTube video

“Many of the concerns listed in your memorandum were discussed at this hearing,” Alvarez told DeMaio in a memo.

I have a call in to DeMaio spokesman Jeff Powell and will update the post if I hear back.

Update: I just heard from DeMaio’s spokesman Jeff Powell. DeMaio isn’t backing off his request. “Our office is still receiving a large volume of calls from frustrated residents,” Powell wrote in an email. “Obviously problems in customer service are a major issue within the water department. Clearly this is an important issue and requires a larger hearing.”

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5663.

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Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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