This document is intended to function as an action plan to implement Goals, Policies and Programs of the City of Sausalito's General Plan as it relates to undergrounding of overhead electric and communication facilities.
The following summarizes the Policy and Programs of the city relative to the removal of overhead utilities:
- Underground overhead utilities in order to minimize the risk to public health and safety and to enhance private and public views.
- Identify and prioritize those overhead utilities which could endanger the public safety by hindering the movement of emergency vehicles and egress from the community in the event of a public emergency.
- Encourage the formation of undergrounding districts at the neighborhood level to promote the benefits of undergrounding.
- Investigate and establish ways to aid in the financing of undergrounding through the use of PG&-E funds, homeowner funds, and the City-wide assessment districts.
- Continue to enforce the Municipal Code requirements for undergrounding of all overhead utilities.
- Work with utility companies to find surface or subsurface alternatives to increasing pole heights, adding equipment, and increasing the size and number of overhead wires. In compliance with these directions, the Underground Committee has developed this plan to facilitate removal of overhead utilities in the City of Sausalito.
Modification of Funding:
Since the inception of the utility undergrounding program in 1968, five Rule 20A underground utility districts have been formed in the City of Sausalito. Approximately 4,500 linear feet of utility lines have been placed underground, and approximately 173,000 linear feet of overhead utility lines remain. At this rate, undergrounding of all utilities in Sausalito will never be accomplished unless the program is accelerated with supplemental funding.
The City of Sausalito currently receives Rule 20A allocations in the amount of approximately $68,000 per year. The fund balance through 1995 was $321,798, sufficient to underground approximately 2,000 linear feet of overhead wires. Rule 20A projects could be supplemented with local funds in a manner which requires use of Rule 20A funds for only the PG&-E portion of a project's costs. Under this supplemental program, approximately four times the amount of utility undergrounding would be accomplished as could be done utilizing Rule 20A funds alone. This equates to an annual rate of undergrounding of approximately 1,800 linear feet.
We have now received acceptance from PG&E of the concept of combining PG&E funds and private funds (20A Supplemental projects). The Undergrounding Plan is to encourage the formation of districts that meet the requirements of Rule 20A Supplemental and that conform with the procedures of the "City of Sausalito Underground Utility District Formation Guide".
The Underground Committee recommends that the City Council adopt a policy of only 20A Supplemental projects for the interim period of 4 years.
If no petitions are received during any four-year period, then a district should be selected by the Underground Committee and recommended for funding utilizing the City's accumulated Rule 20A funds.
Additional Funding Sources:
Other approaches to funding will be pursued:
a) By contact with the "League of California Cities" to explore the availability of additional funds from either those that have been unused in the existing system or those available from other public sources.
b) If the grass roots district formation does not produce a flow of projects, explore a City-Wide district approach which would underground the entire city using a City-wide assessment district.
Approval of Underground Committee Guidelines:
The Underground Committee response to request for variance to Sausalito Municipal Code 18.08 has been quite lenient and has resulted in granting of many variances because of the difficulty in interpretation of the Code.
Chapter 18.08 of the Sausalito Municipal Code requires Undergrounding of service wires when buildings are being constructed or remodeled. This requirement has resulted in removal of many overhead service wires between main distribution wires and new or remodeled structures, but in many instances, variances from this requirement have been granted for hardships as provided in the regulation.
Most of these variances were given because undergrounding of the service wires would have required a costly street crossing to reach the main distribution wires. Excavation, backfill and re-paving are the highest cost items of street crossing work. This portion of a street crossing could justifiably be performed by City maintenance forces since undergrounding of street crossings is a general public benefit. (There have been three to five of these variances annually for the past several years.)