Burying utilities will not cost residents, but SCE program jeopardized

January 26, 2001
Santa Paula News

At the Jan. 16 City Council meeting, the good news was for residents concerned that the next phase of burying unsightly utilities could cost them as much as $800. The bad news was that Southern California Edison, now teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, might not continue the program.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesAt the Jan. 16 City Council meeting, the good news was for residents concerned that the next phase of burying unsightly utilities could cost them as much as $800. The bad news was that Southern California Edison, now teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, might not continue the program.The next phase of the project targeted Harvard Boulevard, and the cost was to be borne by SCE, which allocates funds each year for overhead to underground conversion of power carriers. The available fund amount for Santa Paula was $540,087 at the beginning of the year and it is expected the fund will be added to at a rate of about $101,700 annually, according to Public Works Director-City Engineer Norm Wilkinson.The next phase proposed would “underground” utilities from near Peck Road to Laurie Lane, clearing up the westerly entrance of the city; the preliminary estimate to underground the utilities is $917,000.
Although residents were expected to pay a lower cost for work done on their properties, notices were mailed out that a hefty hit of up to $800 could hit owners for costs associated with burying phone and cable lines.Councilman Rick Cook questioned property owner costs, but Wilkinson said the other utilities would use the same trench and be responsible for the expense. But, there would be “some very minor impacts,” related to new conduits. “There may be some minor disruptions [such as trenching on private property] but it doesn't seem at this point there would be,” anything but small out of pocket costs for property owners.Cook said he wanted to assure property owners would not be dinged, and Mayor Don Johnson asked if same became an issue it would be returned to the council. City Attorney Phil Romney noted that would be his recommendation.Burying underground utilities through the SCE program could be a moot point, as it could be subject to change: “After all, you are all aware that SCE is in difficult financial straits at this moment,” said Wilkinson, and a conversation he held with SCE personnel the day of the council meeting revealed that the program has been placed on hold for an undetermined amount of time.



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