The Coast News Group

Road fixes, efforts to move utilities underground roll on

RANCHO SANTA FE — Progress has been made on three ongoing projects in the village that range from undergrounding overhead utilities, to fixing an awkward intersection and obtaining a use permit for a local equestrian center.
The effort to be able to begin undergrounding existing overhead utilities has been in the works for several years, but there is one step left in the process, which is activating power to do so by the local community services district.
“You go through the process whereby you activate their latent powers,” said Ivan Holler, covenant administrator. “That is done through LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission), that is where we are preparing to go.”
This could happen as soon as next month.
“If LAFCO has a hearing in early April, it would be at that hearing,” he said. “Remember, there have been four or five years to get to this point. It has been a long period of time to get us here.”
He said the process started by the Association funding an engineering report to evaluate the feasibility of undergrounding overhead utilities.
Holler said the existing utility lines went up years before and they are now routinely put underground during construction and there are reasons beyond just aesthetics.
“It is beneficial to remove the visual clutter, but there are other reasons such as safety,” he said citing the cause of the 2007 Witch Creek Fire suspected of being sparked by power lines during high winds.
He that if things go according to plan, after the LAFCO meeting, then neighborhoods could get into the act and plan for the projects.
“Essentially people would agree to assess themselves for underground, not all at once,” he said. “There has to be a logical process.”
Neighborhoods would come forward and explore the possibility, he said. The city of Del Mar went through a similar action not long ago, he said.
The other project in the pipeline is the realignment of the intersection at Via De Santa Fe and La Granada in front of the market and post office.
“It is an awkward intersection,” he said. “Traffic can stack up in front of the market and post office.”
The new intersection will allow traffic to flow through on La Granada.
“It should alleviate some of the congestion on Via De Santa Fe,” he said.
The project, approved by the county board of supervisors, promised $320,000 in road funds toward the improvement.
Finally, a use permit for the Osuna Ranch equestrian facility will be applied for from the county.
Holler said technically, a use permit is not needed.
“We agreed to go through the process to get one,” he said. “We want to do the right things in terms of appearance. There will be no change. It will continue just as it is now.”