San Diego plans to speed up utility undergrounding

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego officials this week are expected to approve a plan that would accelerate efforts to bury utility lines underground across the city.

The new deal with San Diego Gas & Electric creates a citizens oversight panel for undergrounding projects, sets more specific timelines for projects and requires the utility to seek more ethnic and gender diversity in the contractors and suppliers it uses.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the City Council is scheduled to approve the new pact on Feb. 15.

While the plan aims to move along projects, city officials said residents shouldn’t expect undergrounding efforts to ramp up again until 2023 because it will take several months for SDG&E to incorporate the new policies.

San Diego has the largest utility undergrounding program in the state, according to the Union-Tribune.

Neighborhoods generally embrace undergrounding projects because they boost aesthetics, increase property values, reduce fire risk and ease the maintenance of utility wires.

Some neighborhoods, however, have rebelled against undergrounding because of construction hassles, the city’s inability to stick to schedules and unattractive utility boxes when projects are complete.

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