Sunset undergrounding assessment: What’s the formula?

For the last two years, a group of individuals has worked hard on the issue of fairness for Del Mar’s overhead-to-underground conversion of utilities. We studied different assessment formulas used in other jurisdictions and we met with Del Mar city personnel, consultants, citizens and San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

A comparative analysis of Del Mar’s formula had not previously been done for neighborhoods such as ours, so we compared Del Mar’s formula with three other assessment formulas applied to a common sample of 49 contiguous lots comprising a third of Sunset District. Our studies showed that Del Mar’s method is not a benefit-based method as required by state law, but rather, for our neighborhoods it is a cost-based method that is expressly disallowed by state law (California Constitution, Article 13D).

Both the Del Mar city engineer and the assessment engineer agreed that Del Mar’s existing method should be revised for our neighborhoods. (See the minutes of the Del Mar City Council meeting of April 20, 2009.)

The assessment engineer reworked the formula for Sunset District, and the revised formula was presented to property owners on July 29.

Unfortunately, the formula as presented was unclear and vague.
It is now more than a month since the July 29 presentation, and we have not been able to get any official, definitive, written description of the new formula for Sunset District. This has blocked our intended efforts to test the new formula on our original sample of 49 properties in a timely manner well before the vote.

The assessment engineer’s slide presentation contained an illustrative calculation for a fictitious example consisting of three adjacent lots. But the presentation was incomplete for the crucial slide that was intended to explain the new method. Even without understanding his new formula, we can directly observe his final results in this illustrative example based on the new formula, and compare these results with his earlier results using the existing Del Mar formula.

In this way we see, using the assessment engineer’s own results, that the new method is equally as unfair and often even more unfair than the existing Del Mar method. The new formula results in high assessments for some people who get little or no view benefit while others get a huge benefit without paying a fair share. It makes no sense for Sunset District to replace an existing unfair method with another unfair method!

The solution is simple: Adopt one of the fair formulas that have been suggested.
Don Smith is a Del Mar resident.

Related posts:

  1. Some say power line formula is flawed
  2. Assessment questions need some answers
  3. Council OKs more funding for undergrounding projects
  4. Council clears up utility project details
  5. Del Mar Rotary’s Sunset Soiree raises funds for children

Short URL:

Posted by on Sep 9, 2009. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6





  • Rancho Santa Fe Rotary Club to present second ‘Taste of Rancho Santa Fe’
    The Rancho Santa Fe Rotary Club continues to live up to the motto, “Service Above Self,” and invites you to partner with the Rotary Club at the 2nd Annual Taste of Rancho Santa Fe on Oct. 12. Guests of the event, to be held from 4-7 p.m., will have an opportunity to stroll through the historic and iconic grounds of The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe while sampling f […]
  • Melodrama to open at Village Church Community Theater in Rancho Santa Fe
    As part of the Rancho Days celebration in Rancho Santa Fe, “The Saga of Sagebrush Sal, A Comedy Western Melodrama” is set to open Oct. 5 at the Village Church Community Theater. In this old-fashioned comic melodrama, Sagebrush Sal decides to take over the busiest establishment in town, The Bloody Turnip Saloon, which is owned by Jake the Snake. The audience […]
  • Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society acquires Covenant founder’s ledger
    The Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society has acquired the ledger of Barton Millard, which dates back to the 1920s, and will unveil it at Coffee On The Patio Saturday, Sept. 20, at 10:30 a.m. at La Flecha House. Millard was a founding member of the Rancho Santa Fe Association, co-wrote the initial CC&Bs, and served four terms as its president. Millard’s gra […]