In response to requests from the Garberville Town Square's board of directors, Pacific Gas and Electric has announced a public hearing on Friday, Nov. 8 regarding the formation of an underground utilities district in the downtown area.
Plans involve removing five power poles within the proposed district's boundaries and excavating trenches to run underground utility lines. The project site is located at Second St., which runs between the Town Square and Jacob Garber Square, and Church St., but the list of affected properties also includes addresses on Locust St., Conger St., and Redwood Dr.
Costs are estimated at $330,000, but the project would be eligible for Rule 20A funding administered through the California Public Utilities Commission. According to documents in the board of supervisors consent calendar (October, 22, 2013), the fund for utility conversion in Humboldt County has accumulated more than $7 million in credit, so much that supervisors approved loaning $600,000 of that credit to the city of San Carlos, near Palo Alto.
The Nov. 8 hearing's stated purpose is to inform the public about costs, timelines, and impacts associated with the proposed underground utility district. They'll also be attempting determine whether or not the project is in the interest of the general public.
"Before an undergrounding district can be formed, the local governing body must first determine, after consultation with the utility companies and after holding public hearings on the subject, that undergrounding is in the general public interest in a specified area for one or more of the following reasons:
Such undergrounding will avoid or eliminate an unusually heavy concentration of overhead facilities;
The street or right of way is extensively used by the general public and carries a heavy volume of pedestrian or vehicular traffic;
The street or road or right-of-way adjoins or passes through a civic area or public recreation area on an area of unusual scenic interest to the general public; and
The street or road or right-of-way is considered an arterial street or major collector as defined in the Governor's Office of Planning and Research General Plan Guidelines."
The report also indicates that individual property owners will not be required to pay for the undergrounding, and costs incurred by connecting to the relocated utility lines may be eligible for reimbursement from the Rule 20A fund. As a result, PG&E hopes that impacts will be limited to "temporary disruption and the inconveniences associated with construction..."
Interested members of the public can attend the hearing scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday Nov. 8, at the John Haynes Memorial Veterans building, 483 Conger St., Garberville.