Del Mar begins process of forming underground utility districts

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The Del Mar City Council updated the city’s municipal code for underground utility districts as part of the city’s ongoing undergrounding efforts.

The first reading of the changes, which are being made to “simplify the steps to form undergrounding districts,” according to city staff, were approved during the council’s Feb. 3 meeting. They are now pending a second reading on Feb. 18, and would go into effect on March 23.

According to city staff, the City Council will consider establishing two areas as undergrounding districts in March so the city can begin design. Area 1A is located wesst of Camino Del Mar, along Stratford Court between Fourth Street and Sea Orbit Lane, according to the city’s website. Area X1A is near Crest Canyon and includes the eastern end of San Dieguito Drive, and above Crest Canyon along Avenida Primavera and Crest Drive.

Council members agreed to begin the undergrounding project with those two areas last August. The project is funded by Measure Q, approved by Del Mar voters in 2016 to raise the city’s sales tax by 1% that the council decided to use for undergrounding, the Downtown Streetscape Project and the Shores Park Master Plan.

Del Mar City Councilman Dave Druker also mentioned the changes the city will have to accommodate due to new federal regulations regarding 5G implementation, and where it’s going to be positioned.

“We do need to bring back the 5G and how we’re going to be handling that,” he said.

Cities are in the process of accommodating new regulations from the Federal Communications Commission that are designed to streamline the process of implementing 5G, the new wireless technology being promoted as the next major innovation to supplant current 4G technology.

Council members mentioned an ordinance that was recently approved several months ago in Encinitas to comply with the new federal guidelines while also placing restrictions how close 5G towers can be positioned to homes, schools and daycare centers.

Del Mar Deputy Mayor Terry Gaasterland said the city’s 5G policies will be considered by the Undergrounding Project Advisory Committee. She and City Councilman Dwight Worden serve as liaisons to that committee.

“As we get our poles out, or even as we don’t get them out but they’re slated to go out sometime in the next number of years, the last thing we want is to have additional equipment on top of these poles that also has to be removed,” Gaasterland said.