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Utility Undergrounding Update
Art Olson, Primavera | for a letter to the editor click here


Staked ‘story poles’ on 15th Street with ghosted cabinets and platforms approximating what the poles represent.
Photo Art Olson

In late April, the Del Mar City Council voted unanimously for both the Sunset and the Del Mar North Hills Undergrounding Districts to proceed with obtaining bids. The North Hills project bid will be obtained as one district rather than as three separate districts. However, the construction will proceed with each area being considered as a separate stage. This approach will allow one area to be completed while work is progressing in other areas. Construction will start at the north end of the project and proceed to the south end. There was discussion of revising the previous assessment formula to better suit the topography of the hilly terrain and winding streets of the northern districts, but no resolution has yet resulted.

Story poles on Bellaire and Seaview.  Photo Bill Lewis, architect.

Mockup of the same photo showing what the finished utility station would look like.  Mockup Bill Lewis, architect.


The City Council also agreed to erect story poles to mark the location and size of the transformers in both the North Hills and Sunset districts. The story poles, which are now in place, are intended to help the City Council and the community to decide whether to include the cost of erecting screening walls for the transformers in the bond. Residents of the Sunset District, calling themselves the Sunshine Neighbors, have expressed concerns that the staking that has been installed does not adequately show the impact of the structures that will be built since they do not indicate any of the retaining walls or platforms that will exist surrounding the utility boxes themselves.

The schedule for the undergrounding projects has been extended due to the slowness of telephone/media companies in completing their part of the design and in making adjustments to accommodate various right-of-way issues. Current estimates of key dates in the revised schedule are:

• July 7th 2009: The DMNHUP project is scheduled to go out for bid.
• August 24th: The City Council will review the bid recommendations.
• September 12th: PBS&J will hold a homeowners’ meeting to explain the assessment process and have the results of the assessment process available for each homeowner in the district.
• September 21st: PBS&J will present a draft assessment report to the City Council.
• October 5th: PBS&J will present the final assessment report.
• October 12th: The ballot will be mailed. The ballot will include each homeowner’s assessment information. The ballots are due 45 days from the day they are mailed.
• October 24th: PBS&J will meet with homeowners to answer questions about the ballot and specific assessments.
• December 11th: A public hearing will be held at which time the votes will be counted and a decision will be made on whether to proceed with the project.

For more information on North Hills District go the website: http://www.DMNHUP.com

Stakes and Aesthetics in North Hills and Sunset Districts
Pat Welsh, Zapo Street; Nancy Ross, Kalamath Drive; Ann Dempsey, Crest Road; Don Smith, Balboa Avenue | July 8, 2009

The City’s stakes marking the location of utility boxes and pedestals omit all walls and fail to show the full size of many installations. Unless properly screened, as we have been suggesting to the City for months, the installations are going to be very noticeable and astonishingly ugly. Why is the City exempt from Design Review Board oversight on this enormous project?

We urge everyone to speak up and require the City and its engineers to comply with the normal aesthetic standards of Del Mar. For very little additional cost, evenly apportioned among the residents, we can have attractive installations instead of ugly eyesores that we will forever regret.


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