The City Council voted for a ballot measure to fund undergrounding Edison utility lines without first addressing concerns expressed by a majority of residents. The newly formed resident advocacy group STOP made a factual presentation in opposition. Many speakers raised substantive facts and valid concerns that elected officials should address.
Laguna has spent nearly $500,000 and counting to advocate support of the undergrounding initiative, but has ignored a plea to consult energy experts to convert Laguna into a solar city. To ignore available alternative energy sources is offensive to an environmentally sensitive community.
The city uses public funds to advertise and promote their undergrounding initiative, devised to evoke an emotional response by using a fire and safety campaign and win votes in support of a sales tax increase to pay for the massive construction cost.
Third Street construction created a major traffic disturbance. Wait until Edison begins to trench proposed “key routes.”
Edison, with city assistance, will graciously allow taxpayers to pick up the tab to replace its aging infrastructure. I find it particularly objectionable that a depreciating asset cost has not being factored into replacing a depreciating asset solely owned by Edison.
Voter ignorance may win two-thirds of the vote. STOP must advance an educational campaign about the risk of a debt liability of this magnitude, potential cost over runs and lack of depreciation.
I have suggested the city scale back the scope of the project with a more reasonable proposal, focusing on main evacuation routes along Laguna Canyon and Coast Highway. Reducing the scale would allow the city to pay as we go, decrease spending and use Measure LL tax funds and Rule 20A credits for funding.
It is reasonable to assume the intention of creating key evacuation routes is to gain voter favor at the expense of residents who have already paid to under ground utility lines in their own neighborhoods. It’s a misguided approach that places the burden on all taxpayers to pay for the specific benefit of neighborhoods that haven’t undergrounded. Yes, this will benefit some, including City Council member Toni Iseman, who recused herself after the specific benefit was brought up.
The city must halt the continued spending of public funds to advocate and promote the personal objective of City Council. State law prohibits local governmental agencies from expending public funds to advocate for or against a ballot measure or other voting initiative, with some exceptions for educational/informative materials.
City Council is failing to address resident concerns, explore alternative energy sources or scale back the project to avoid debt liability and cost overruns.
Beware: Costs for undergrounding utility lines for the bullet train in Fresno soared to $400 million from $25 million.
Lorene Laguna, Laguna Beach