Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Utility Undergrounding In Manhattan Beach

Utility undergrounding is the current hot topic in Manhattan Beach and will likely be a source of problems for other beach cities down the line. I've lived here since 1969 and this has always been an issue.

The City of Manhattan Beach has faced major criticism and a lawsuit over the undergrounding of utilities. People in the Sand section want it and most of those east of Ardmore who don't have a view could care less about undergrounding

The areas west of Valley; Areas 1,3 and 5, have had undergrounding completed and are waiting to finish up local connection from individual properties to main utility lines. For most of these residents the fees were fairly reasonable. Edison says that's because it made a mistake when it quoted the price for those homeowners. Edison is now trying to remedy that by charging a more accurate figure which just happens to be significantly more expensive for undergrounding in the other areas of the city. Edison making mistakes on costs then trying to make others pay for their errors.....Hmmmmm sounds familiar doesn't it?

Area 4, which covers the Hill section, is currently in a major battle over whether to underground due to huge costs associated with the project. 50.1% want it and 49.9% don't so the city is getting ready to have another vote on the project.

Last night the City Council finally put together a comprehensive pamphlet about the project for all areas of the city which will be mailed to all residents in Manhattan Beach within the next few weeks. You can download a copy in two to three days from the city's web site if you want an early preview. The city says this brochure will include all information about undergrounding including a better picture of future costs for the project in other areas of the city. Every property owner needs to read this information. Undergrounding and the related expenses will affect all of us who own property in the city.

In 1999 the city did a survey about undergrounding and found that the only people who cared about the issue either lived in the sand section where they tripped over the utility poles or had a view that the poles impeded. In June the city will be sending out a new survey to residents to see if their views have changed. Be sure to fill out and return the survey. This is where you will be able to have a say in what the city will plan for the future.

I used to live in the Sand section. If I still lived there I would have voted for undergrounding as the utility poles were ridiculous, not to mention just plain ugly. The price was less then $10,000 which is reasonable. However living in east Manhattan where things are not so crowded and views are minimal; I will probably vote against it. The costs seem prohibitive for the end result.

Whatever your view if you own property in Manhattan Beach be sure to read the new brochure and call City Hall if you have questions.

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