Letter: There’s Still Time to Vote


I agree, having all the poles down and wires underground seemed like a great idea, but when the Woods Cove Engineering was complete, neighbors were invited to meet at the Susi Q by a four by six inch non-descript white postcard with a tiny drawing, tinier type and a QR code, which wasn’t received by many, noticed by the small crowd at the Susi Q. 

The reported assessments are $4,000 to $86,000. Bond rates are estimated at 7 percent but could rise as interest rates rise. Will they be eight, nine or 10 percent?  

There’s a home of 2020 valued at $7 million with a $6,600 assessment. Down the street, a small fixer is $52,000. A 10+ unit condo each has a $10,000, while a multi-unit apartment building on same size parcel is $52,000. Does this sound fair? How about $14,000 add-on for “potential view?” Yes, you’re charged in advance of possibly building a second story! 

Safety benefit? Twenty percent is justification under this project. Why aren’t utility companies contributing at least 20 percent each? Why are residents being asked to build infrastructure for the city and utilities companies? It isn’t a safety-first issue. It’s an aesthetic issue per the report – 70 percent to look pretty. 

Aside from the early postcard notice, some didn’t receive ballots or again mistook them as junk. Why weren’t these in larger envelopes or color alerting us to the importance?  

This project will not bring all wires underground. This neighborhood will still have nine supercharged poles to feed 380 homes. Are we safer or just 20 percent safer?? 

Why is the project engineer assisting block captains now? I find it a conflict of interest for a city employee to be helping a group that is pushing in favor of this project. As much as the city wants this, it is wrong. Residents must know the cons, not just the pros. 

Aesthetics or safety? Do residents realize that other neighborhoods were funded by city and utilities, cash or “credits?” Shouldn’t this project be postponed until it is fair and safe for all? Forcing this onto older residents with fixed incomes will force them out of their homes to favor those concerned only about aesthetics. 

You can change your vote: property owners can change or withdraw submitted ballots any time before the end of the public hearing. The submitted ballot must be surrendered prior to a replacement ballot being sent out.   

Michael LaRiche, on behalf of The Woods Cove Neighborhood for NO 

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  1. Each Woods Cove resident in the undergrounding district owes it to themselves to research the best possible vote for their property. As a homeowner in the district, over the course of ten years, I’ve attended as many meetings as possible, read every email, the City website fact page, and have sent emails to the City, as well as to neighborhood volunteer leaders, for which I received factual, not opinion based, responses.
    Over the recent weeks, we’ve opened our mailbox to find two expensive postcards created by a district resident filled with opinions masked as facts. No one signed them but it’s obvious that their intent is to garner no votes.
    The cards don’t present the facts, instead I’d classify them as distortions, intended to sway votes. There is no response piece going out to counter these mailings because there is no money to prepare and mail such a high priced piece. Instead, Woods Cove community volunteers have spent countless hours pouring through reports and information to disseminate to district residents so they can make an informed decision for their property. The only way residents can sift through the inaccurate statements on the postcard is to ask questions, go back through the District emails, various documents, and to read the City meeting minutes and reports.
    I have no intention of being swayed by someone who has a personal motivation for this not to go through. Quite the opposite of what the postcard mailer says, this project was not forced on us and we did ask for it.
    Yesterday, we received a communication piece from the City [and I quote] that they have decided to reevaluate the Deferment Loan Program to broaden the application criteria, thereby allowing a larger number of property owners to qualify. This is good news for many residents who want to vote yes to underground but don’t have access to the money to cover the assessment or the cost to connect buried lines to the home. The vote NO influencer used the phrase “Displaced Elderly Retirees” saying they would be forced to sell their home. Not the case; sounds like disinformation handiwork to me.
    Would we love to not have to consider the options to pay for this? Of course, but we’ve made our decision that the Public Utility is never going to bury these lines. This is a safety issue and enhancement to our property, just as any remodel decision would be. This one however, also protects life, property value and the property of our neighbors and community. To those who say why isn’t the City paying for this. Well, it’s got a $14.4 million dollar price tag and the City has committed to contributing $2,757,617 which includes $1,578,117 for the General Benefit to the larger community (think Glenneyre and Coast Hwy evacuation routes) and the $1,179,500 voluntary public safety contribution approved by the City Council at the August 8 meeting. Funding would be provided from the Wildfire Mitigation and Fire Safety Fund, and Street Lighting and Utility Fund.
    I live on an evacuation route street. There are over 300 homes, humans, and pets on the streets above our home. Obviously, it’s in their best interest, as well as mine, that a YES vote is the outcome, and that City funds are used responsibly for this project. This synergetic approach exists all over Laguna, one winding lane serves as another streets evacuation route. We are all in it together.
    I’ll gladly support City Contributions to other Districts that undertake this project in the future. Just like paying for schools and education, these types of programs benefit all residents in the community.
    Let’s allow each property owner to make an informed decision on this investment for themselves. Directing neighbors to fact based information and just making sure everyonegot their ballot really makes the most sense and will offer the best possible outcome for Woods Cove.

  2. Becky, thank you for your responsible comments. You’ve said everything that I would like to say.

    Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Michael’s LTE. He has chosen to take the same strategy as he has on social media, particularly Nextdoor. His letter is filled with inaccuracies, deceitful slants, and dishonesty. Where to begin.

    You say that you read every email or attended every meeting it’s too bad that you’re not communicating what you’ve learned to neighbors. And in fact, are choosing to push your agenda, instead of honesty.
    You say that most did not receive the postcard how many people did you survey when I read this I surveyed neighbors myself as well as others we have yet to find one person that says they did not receive it. Dishonest.

    You state the district will be charge 7% as though it’s a fact. The last district diamond crest was assessed in March and their percentage what’s 5.1% no one knows exactly what the percentage will be but I noticed that you only comment on that number and higher it could very well be lower. You also don’t comment what you’ve learned on Nextdoor by resident that is the city will constantly evaluate to try to find lower rates and will change the bonds to reduce rates. This has impacted many residents positively as you’ve been told. False.

    Of the six properties assessed at $6614 four are on Coast Highway and the other two are not valued at 7 million not even close false information. The remainder of your comments in the section are also an accurate.

    The ballot envelopes were very clear emphasizing the importance of the contacts. Stating your vote will be needed for an election. The materials inside or extensive in terms of the information they provided, including contact information for questions. False.

    I believe I made my point I’m not gonna bring up every inaccuracy or misleading comment in this letter. My advice would be stick to the truth.

    I would add Whoever is sending out those postcards did not identify the group, pac or individual responsible for the piece. That is against campaign laws and has been reported.

    We had a fire on our street from a blown transformer. Had circumstances bit different. I might not be here today. So of course, safety is a significant issue for us.

    We only have a couple more weeks until the ballots are counted. I’m asking for everyone to be honest about the facts. If you want to state your opinion you must identify it.


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