Living With an Unlovely Landscape Fixture

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The 1955 movie “To Catch a Thief” was made in Cannes and Nice, France, and its views of the countryside remind me of our Laguna Beach. The climate there is very similar and the flora of the hillsides looks like our hillsides as well.

Both French Riviera cities are destinations for millions of tourists, like Laguna Beach. Film scenes of the countryside capture telephone poles lining the winding roadways of the area. What is seen reminded me much of the many telephone poles that exist in our fine city. Yes, the film was done years ago and yet one could just bet those very same poles still exist today. Folks in that area of the world do the same as folks here in Laguna Beach, they have learned to live with their poles and we all have to until there comes a time when technology can eliminate the poles completely.

The French are not attempting to underground their poles most likely because of the cost to do so and with no demands being made by the citizens or their government. On drives to Oak Glen, Arrowhead, Big Bear, Mammoth, Julian and other forested communities that are tourist destinations considered high risks for fires the poles are there. The transformers are there. The roadway through many of these communities is even way more dangerous then our Canyon Road. So, why the alarm in our town about the fire risks we face that are so similar to many other communities? Why this race to underground? How are similar communities dealing with their poles? One must admit however, do these poles add any beauty to our town? Absolutely not.

What has been reported about the causes of fires, the pole is way down the list. Those businesses that are responsible for the maintenance of all poles in our town take extra caution to be sure the poles remain safe and good repair. If poles are neglected these companies will be held accountable.

The fear that is being generated by those citizens in our city and government who support this costly undergrounding is both unfounded and unnecessary. Many of us are awaiting to be more informed about this costly project and how it dictates such a rapid decision.

In the meantime….let’s continue to live with the poles as best we can.

Jim Gothard, Laguna Beach

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