Project would increase fire safety, efficiency

By Sandi Steller

Resident, Del Mar

My husband and I strongly support the undergrounding project.

There would be increased fire safety that would be realized with this undergrounding project. Presently, firefighters will not cross downed power lines caused by falling limbs or other accidents until advised by San Diego Gas & Electric Co. that the electricity has been turned off. This can greatly impede firefighting activities and create a dangerous situation for people in the area. In addition, exploding transformers can and have caused fires in nearby trees. On a personal level, Cal Fire has zoned our home in the highest fire hazard area, called the red zone.

Another tremendous advantage is increased efficiency. Our current antiquated system will be replaced by a new one, which will result in less downtime from power outages and repairs due to the lines that frequently run through the trees. During our most recent storm, our power was out for nine hours. During this storm, two power lines went down and one power line started a grass fire. I was told by SDG&E that our power outage was caused by trees on the power lines.

I have also been doing extensive research of the cost to underground poles nearby our home since 1996. I have found it to be extremely complicated and cost-prohibitive undergrounding on an individual basis.

Also in regards to fire safety, I urge you to now take a formal approach to weed and brush abatement. The Senate Bill 1595, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2009, specifically states that “SB 1595 would update brush management regulations to fuels management, incorporating lessons learned during the 2003 and 2007 fires regarding ignition sources and patterns. The purpose of fuels management is to reduce the likelihood of shrub-to-structure, structure-to-structure and/or structure-to-shrub ignition.”

The Government Code and the Wildland Urban Interface Code that are presently in place also give the city of Del Mar the ability to enforce this program.

Thank you City Council for your consideration and moving in the right direction for the safety of our community.