March 2010 home page


Undergrounding: Hurts
Brook Eisenberg-Pike | Hoska Drive

Related Articles
Olson | Shirts | Eisenberg-Pike

Other Opinions about Undergrounding
Farrell | Whitehead | Instone | DeMarco | Schneider  | Olson 1 | Olson 2


Cartoon concept Karen Lockwood. Design Joanna Dempsey.

Voters approved Proposition 218 giving cities authority to create assessment districts. Proponents argued that when agencies impose assessments “under then-existing law, ’[a]n elderly widow pays exactly the same on her modest home as a tycoon with a mansion’ ”. The remedy was 218, but ironically, Del Mar citizens face the same situation that 218 was supposed to prevent.

This is not an opposition to undergrounding. but to formation of the assessment district. Undergrounding may be a good thing, but there is a compassionate way to get it done. Now your vote may contribute to a neighbor losing her home.

ssessments of $11,000 to $59,000, may result in an elderly widow paying more than a tycoon with a mansion. This is happening against a backdrop of the biggest economic decline since the Depression. Many of our neighbors’ retirement accounts were devastated, if they owned them.

Del Mar is a wonderfully diverse community, part of it economic. This district includes some of our most cherished and civically active residents who are older and on fixed incomes. Many do not have brokerage accounts to tap. Many live on Social Security, budgeting small incomes. Some younger families live on limited incomes trying to provide children’s tuition and pressing family needs. Along comes the threat of assessment and debt. They will be forced to pay the assessment, go into debt, or perhaps sell their homes-- unappealing to appalling options. Undergrounding as an aesthetic issue appears frivolous and irresponsible at a time of economic suffering and hardship. If it is a safety issue, then the protection of the public is the job of government not individual citizens. The fire chief testified that it is rare for a fire to be caused by a downed cable. For safety’s sake the city can certainly afford to trim the trees from power lines.

There is another way, a compassionate way, to have utility cables undergrounded. Undergrounding has already been done privately in small areas around town. Neighbors picked up the tab for those unwilling or unable to pay. It was not onerous and it got done. Please don’t bury your compassion along with your cables. Before you cast your vote, please ask yourself if that young family or that elderly person should be paying for the view of the tycoon next door.


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