Ranch utilities to get buried

RANCHO SANTA FE — At its April 7 meeting, the Association approved the Assessment District Committee’s petition and corresponding cover letter, which will be sent to members to begin the process of undergrounding utilities. In addition, it gave the go-ahead for staff to contact people who expressed an interest in serving as district captains for the initial assessment districts.
“That would be the beginning of the process,” said Nikki Flynn, assistant planner, who presented the information to the board.
The undergrounding project has been ongoing for about eight years, first having to jump the hurdle of creating a special assessment district through the community service district and then approval by the Local Agency Formation Commission.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Director Anne Feighner said. “People are very interested in it, but will they pursue it.”
Flynn said the Assessment District Committee was established by the Association board last fall. Since then the committee has been working to complete documents to begin the process of undergrounding utilities by district. First is the formal petition to be signed by each property owner and submitted to the Rancho Santa Fe Community Service District and a cover letter to go along with the petition, explaining the undergrounding process and outlining the requirements and responsibilities of the property owner.
She said in May, the Assessment Committee and the Association held a communitywide meeting to provide information to members who were interested in undergrounding utilities.
“About 75 members attended the meeting, many to express a strong interest in leading their district in the process and serving as district captains. These captains would serve as a liaison between the residents in their district and the Community Service District through the duration of the process,” Flynn said.
Now with the board’s approval, staff members can contact people who expressed interest in being district captains and provide them with the necessary information and materials to initiate the application process in their district.
The next step will be when the captains talk to their neighbors, get the petition signed and come back to the Association for approval. A majority of them must want to proceed.
If approved the engineering assessment study will be prepared by an assessment engineer at a cost of $2,000 per property owner.
If the Community Service District board rejects the application, the $2,000 will be refunded and the process will not move forward.
Once the engineering study is complete and accepted, the Community Service District board will adopt the study and conduct a public vote of all the property owners in the proposed assessment district. Then there will be a public hearing that will help decide if the formation of the district should proceed.
In a recent survey 30 percent of the residents said they believed the Association should provide some kind of financial help for the districts. About 35 percent said they believed the Association should not provide help and about 10 percent said they were not sure.
“For us it will be a learning curve as well,” said Ivan Holler, Association administrator.


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