Letter: In Support of Measure P


CANDO, the Canyon Alliance of Neighborhoods Defense Organization, supports Measure P for Laguna Beach.

Downed electrical wires were the leading cause of wildfires in California in 2017. As the number and intensity of wildfires goes up our risk is increasing, not decreasing.

In addition to fire danger, inevitably, earthquakes and mudslides (as in ’98) will bring poles and live wires down, blocking evacuation routes, disrupting communications, interrupting power, and preventing first responders from coming to the aid of those trapped.

We may not be able to evacuate, nor reach out for help and help may not be able to get to us. It’s a problem that needs solving.

But nobody is going to help us but us! Well, us and 6 million visitors. Approximately two-thirds of sales tax revenues in Laguna Beach are paid by our visitors. With a 1 percent sales tax increase, visitors would pay the majority of the costs needed for undergrounding.

But won’t Southern California Edison (SCE) or Caltrans pay for undergrounding?

SCE will not pay. The City has tried to work with Sacramento, and directly with SCE for three years – to no avail. Amongst SCE’s proposals are to cut down trees on your private property (up to 200 feet from the lines) and, in the case of high fire danger, to turn the power off.

Caltrans is prohibited by law from paying for improvements to electrical facilities. And although the county is paying for the undergrounding of 14 poles from El Toro to the Toll Road, the county has no proposal nor budget for any undergrounding from Canyon Acres to El Toro. Neither Caltrans nor the County will provide a solution.

Undergrounding is critical to our safety. Together we can protect one another. Vote Yes on P.

Penelope Milne, Laguna Beach, President CANDO

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  1. Just a couple of fact checks to your LTE from STOP (which really are talking points for the Yes on P folks from their same literature). There are many incorrect facts in your LTE, but I’ll cover just a few to save space.

    First, overhead utility wires were NOT the top cause of fires in CA in 2017, nor have they EVER been. That is the false statement being promoted by the Yes on P folks,and they have been advised that it is a false statement and submitted with evidence to refute the false claim by Cal Fire. The Yes on P folks intentionally cited an LA Times article that was factually incorrect, but they ran with it anyways. Shame on them for speeding false facts to residents. Uncool.

    Second, the City didn’t really try to work with SCE or Cal-Trans. Bob Whalen and Rob Zurschmeide, the undergrounding subcommittee, just weren’t making fast enough progress, got impatient, then got arrogant, and passed a bad ordinance in 2017 demanding that SCE/SDGE underground. They were told they would be sued, which the City was, and we had to pay expensive attorneys fees to get our city out of hot water and rescind the bad ordinance. Is it any wonder that the utilities don’t want to work with Laguna due to its arrogance and impatience? Laguna is not the center of the world, as so many people seem to think. So our own city council and city blew it, and bit the hand that would have helped them. Uncool.

    Third, the amount of new safety prevention measures put in place starting 1/1/18 by the PUC for all electrical utility companies is staggering. These are proven measures, like aggressive tree trimming, annual inspections of all utilities poles in high fire areas, strengthening poles, system hardening (making wires/connectors fire safe), fast acting fuses, 24/7 high powered camera monitoring for constant fire surveillance, aggressive new communications and boots on the ground live monitoring in extreme fire weather situations, among so so many more. Power shut off is a last resort, and can be done in patches, not whole cities. Very effective as needed and a hell of a lot expensive than hundred million in taxes and big bond debt.

    Question: Is CANDO a PAC? Does its political endorsement actions violate its non-profit status?
    Question: Isn’t true that CANDO members will benefit much more than others by the proposed undergrouding? So are they promoting taxation to benefit themselves with free undergrounding?

    NOTE: I understand that the LTE author, Penny Milne, cannot even vote as she is not a US citizen. Seems to me if she wants to get involved in local politics, or any US politics, she should become a US citizen and pledge her allegiance to the USA first, especially since she has lived her for years. Ms. Milne is also a “go to” mouthpiece for the City when they need someone to speak up on a matter they are pushing. Those secret “text messages” during council meetings telling Penny to please come down and speak because they are getting beat up on something else the council wants to do that residents generally don’t want.


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