Utility project to go to ballot
In a virtual rehashing of the North Hills Assessment District’s special meeting on Feb. 2, a shorthanded Del Mar City Council voted unanimously Monday to put the Sunset Undergrounding Project to a vote despite pleas from the overwhelming majority of an overflow crowd at the Del Mar TV studio.
Owners of the 145 parcels in the Sunset District will now receive weighted ballots based on how much their property was assessed. Those who would have to pay a larger portion of the $3.2 million project will have a larger say in the final tally, set for calculation on April 27. While most of the in-person testimony came from those against the project, the vast majority of the e-mails and letters sent to the council supported undergrounding.
“I just hope everyone has an open mind and considers the ramifications that this might be the only opportunity we ever have to do this,”
said Greg Fehr of the Sunset Underground Project Committee.
Supporters of the measure say putting the utility poles underground would enhance views, eliminate the risk of fire from downed power lines in a storm and increase overall property values.
Those who spoke out against undergrounding say they are living on a fixed income, say the safety enhancements are trivial, and find it frivolous to spend this amount of money in this economic time.
“You people need to realize that a lot of the people you’re dealing with in this assessing paid $30,000 to $40,000 for their houses, and now you’re asking these people to cough up $30,000 to pay for some wires,” Margaret Higgins said. “It’s kind of ridiculous because all you need to do is wait a few more years and let a few more of these houses turn over at $2 million to $3 million and you’re home-free. Why are you crushing these oldies under your heels?”
The council, consisting of Deputy Mayor Donald Mosier, Crystal Crawford and Carl Hilliard, concluded that the only way to know if this is truly desired is to put it to a ballot measure. Mayor Richard Earnest and Councilman Mark Filanc live in or within 500 feet of the district so were ineligible to vote.
“Our taking the next step does not mean that we will proceed. It is only a way to get accurate information from the people who are part of your district,” Crawford said. “Not everybody comes down here, not everybody writes a letter and not everybody has all the information.”
Residents will now have until April 26 to submit their ballots for them to be counted. They will be ineligible if received after this date, despite a postmark indicating that they were mailed beforehand. The council will take public comment at its meeting on the April 26 and tally all of the votes the next day starting at 10 a.m. It will then reconvene at 5 p.m. to make a final decision on whether to proceed with the North Hills and Sunset undergrounding districts.
Like the Ocean View/Pines district, which passed with a 77 percent majority in 2006, Crawford said she will likely hold a decision to a higher percentage standard than a simple majority vote.
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- Utility funding options explored
- Utility proposal worries some
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