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Undergrounding Petition Process Needs Limits

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I am a Newport Beach resident who is against (now and for the foreseeable future) being made to pay upwards of $25,000 simply for the aesthetic improvement of undergrounding the utilities, especially in light of the fact that Edison itself says that undergrounding is less safe, less reliable but more expensive.

The City and the community should have more important priorities!

Assistant City Engineer Michael Sinacori spoke at a small Pro-Undergrounding meeting May 12 that I attended. I’d like to comment on two things that he said at this meeting.

When posed a simple question about the city’s position on undergrounding, rather than simply saying the City’s position is neutral (the official answer), he prefaced this answer by saying, “I’m personally in favor, but it is your decision…”

This is another example (besides his very attendance) of the City’s supporting the undergrounding process. As a taxpayer, I protest at having to pay his salary when he is speaking in an official capacity to hear him give his personal opinion – and one that is at odds with the City’s official position (and my own opinion) on this contentious issue.

This was a meeting to which I RSVPd but was told at the door that I was not welcome because I was listed as a no undergrounding supporter. Later several people told me this was a misunderstanding and I was welcome.

When asked if the July 1 date was a firm date, he reported that it was the date at which the Pro-Undergounding petition would be considered, but then added words to the effect that even if you don’t have the required number of Pro-Undergrounders by then, there is nothing stopping you (the petitioners) from continuing this process indefinitely—basically encouraging them to.

I think it was inappropriate for Mr. Sinacori to offer this unasked for opinion, but I also realize that he speaks at the direction of the City Council.

If current state or local statutes actually allow this continuing assault on homeowners who do not wish to pay for aesthetic undergrounding, and do not want to continue defending against something that they have defeated already, the statutes regulating the petition process (for all issues) are antiquated and misguided, and should be changed by the City Council.

Joan McCauley

Newport Beach

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  1. Annie Clougherty

    Dear Joan-
    I was the one that graciously invited you to sit and enjoy pizza and a glass of wine which you opted not to. I tried to go out of my way to make you and your non-RSVP guests feel welcomed as well. I know you opted to sit in the noiser bar area where the music was loud rather than the main area, so you must have not heard the entire meeting.

    I have the meeting in its entirety, including Mr. Sinacori’s talk for your and the NB Independent review on uninterrupted video so as to avoid any misunderstanding from any side. None of the comments you mentioned regarding Mr. Sinacori’s comments are correct. I will be sending to the NB Independent editor to request retraction of those comments.

    Since we live close, please feel free to view the video as well so you have a better recollection of the neutral stance Mr. Sinacori took on the issue. He only stated the facts, not his personal views nor the city views, but rather the City FAQ as adopted by the City Council and used for over 100 Newport Beach underground districts.

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