Input from public sought on utilities

RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe Association has voted unanimously to move ahead with undergrounding its utilities and has given its approval to mail an interest survey and corresponding cover letter to members.
Assistant Planner Nikki Flynn, who gave a presentation to the board at its June 2 meeting, said this survey will be unlike most others where the responses are anonymous because it will have the property owner’s name and physical address printed on the front page.
“Once the responses are received, we can enter the location information into the GIS mapping program, identify interested parcels and produce a quick visual assessment of the interest levels throughout the Covenant,” she said.
From there, the Assessment Committee will be able to target the neighborhoods with the most concentrated interest.
“Additionally, the survey asks if residents are interested in serving as District Captains for their assessment district and as your board is aware, establishing a District Captain is an essential first step for any proposed assessment district,” she said.
The survey was ready to go in September, but the Association board determined it would be best to wait until the results from the recent community survey were completed, which would help them determine how important it was to residents to proceed with the undergrounding project.
“The committee learned there was a strong interest in undergrounding,” Flynn said.
The undergrounding project has been in the works for about eight years, first having to jump the hurdle of creating a special assessment district through the Community Service District (CSD) and then approval by the Local Agency Formation Commission.
If an application for undergrounding in a district is approved, the engineering assessment study will be prepared by an assessment engineer at a cost of $2,000 per property owner.
If the CSD board rejects the application, the $2,000 will be refunded and the process will not move forward.
Once the engineering study is complete and accepted by the CSD, the CSD board will adopt the study and conduct a public vote of all the property owners in the proposed assessment district. Then there will be a public hearing, which will help decide if the formation of the district should proceed.
It is estimated there are 39 districts with 48 properties each.
“I think many people want to know what check do I have to write if I am interested,” said Tom Lang, board president.
In cases where the property is owned by the Association, the fees would be paid by the membership, such as the Encinitas entrance of the Covenant.
“I think there will be a dramatic impact to the entrance of Rancho Santa Fe,” said Jack Queen, director. “We have our flowers and our rock and then all those ugly poles.”

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