It seems irresponsible not to respond to the outlandish claims regarding utility undergrounding made in the most recent letters to the editor (from Portia Weiss and others).
Below is a list of what is facts supported by Official City and County information and what is inaccurate but seems to be perpetuated by those opposed to improving Newport Heights
FICTION: Transformers will be located above ground.
FACT: The PUC has conceded that City of Newport Beach dictates the location of transformers. Under City Municipal Code Chapter 15.32 transformers will are required to be installed below ground. This information is clearly stated in the Official City FAQ at http://newportbeachca.gov/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=20325 and may also be found at www.improvenewportheights.com along with video footage of the facts as presented a City representative.
FICTION: Information on the unofficial website and in propaganda of undergrounding costs of $25,000.
FACT: District 118 estimates from the City have always been $20,000 per parcel [Ed. Note—the original estimate was $25,000, but the city recalculated it to $20,000]
FICTION: Rule 20C is an option whereas some homeowners who want to underground their utilities and can pay for the entire neighborhood.
FACT: Rule 20C is not an option for Newport Heights. Rule 20C projects are typically used by developers to underground shorter segments of utilities. Please refer to the City’s general FAQ page www.newportbeachca.gov/index.aspx?page=306.
FICTION: Signing and returning a petition card obligates homeowners to pay for undergrounding utilities.
FACT: Signing and returning a petition card actually will allow the City to conduct and publish a formal estimate on the costs per parcel so the entire community can vote on the issue. The petition process can be reviewed at www.newportbeachca.gov.
FACT: The City has over $2,000,000 allocated for the improvement of our alleys in District 118 so when incorporated with undergrounding utilities parcel owners save an estimated $3,000 to $5,000 on the process. It will never be less expensive than it is today.
FACT: Long term financing will be made available from the City at historically low interest rates.
FACT: In a few years Edison will be executing their 50 year upgrade in Newport Heights and moving from 4KV system to a 12KV system. Poles are 50 percent larger in diameter, five feet taller, and have larger transformers, all to be installed on your property and in the city right of way.
On the no undergrounding website, fear tactics are used referencing “immediate foreclosure” yet Orange County information (http://ttc.ocgov.com/proptax/pta) states that taxes and assessments need be in arrears for 5 years prior to any foreclosure process. In addition only 35 homes in all of Orange County have been foreclosed on due to tax/ assessment liens in the last 5 years and exactly zero in Newport Beach.
In her letter to the editor, Portia Weiss challenges anyone to go to her site and find anything but factual accurate information. Well, I have taken the challenge and most of the above points are still on the site as of the date of this letter. In addition I spent 15 minutes cross referencing her “supporters list” with parcel owners in the District 118 and in less than half way through the list I found over five names that are not listed as parcel owners in District 118.
I have confidence in our City officials and elected leaders. I believe they are providing community members with accurate and factual information so that we can make an informed decision about improving Newport Heights District 118 and our community. Make sure you are getting the official facts from the City. Let’s stay on par with and join the over 30 other communities in Newport Beach that have gone underground so that Newport Heights can continue to be considered one of the best communities in Newport Beach and on the Orange Coast.
Aaron G. Cook