DEL MAR — Utility poles are on their way to becoming a thing of the past in Del Mar.
City Council voted 4-0 at an Oct. 1 meeting to push forward with utility undergrounding, a project that will be funded by the city’s Measure Q funds. In the next 10 to 15 years, the city’s 538 utility poles will become essentially invisible.
“After all these decades of dreaming about this, we’re on the road,” said Mayor Dwight Worden after the council passed a resolution endorsing staff recommendations on the project.
Undergrounding will be split into about 15 projects, each requiring between 18 and 30 months for design, advertising and construction. Measure Q funds will be used to pay for undergrounding within the city’s right-of-way, while owners are responsible for paying the cost of converting laterals — the cables running from the property line to the house.
During the presentation, Mohsen Maali with the city’s Public Works Department anticipated that the overall cost will exceed the 2016 consultant’s projected $21 million. The city is leaving it to the new consultant, Lee & Ro, Inc., to come up with an updated forecast.
Council discussed the best way to prioritize different areas for undergrounding, and agreed that safety should be a top priority for the city, compared to criteria such as density, speed or cost. Council also recommended city staff take a closer look at reimbursing residents who have undergrounded their own poles, though they initially stated the city will not reimburse such projects.
The next step is for the consultant to develop a delivery plan. City staff anticipate the project will begin construction in early 2020.
Residents are looking forward to the outcome.
“I think it’s going to improve everyone’s views and property values,” said attendee Anne Farrell.
Lexy Brodt covers all things Del Mar and Solana Beach for The Coast News, with a primary interest in coastal development. A North County native turned UW-Madison alumna, she has produced for Wisconsin Public Radio and reported for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Wisconsin State Journal.