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Laguna Beach


Utility undergrounding: City will discuss key conclusions from survey tonight, Tuesday, Feb 6 

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council will hear tonight, Tuesday, Feb 6, what the community thinks about undergrounding utilities on evacuation routes or on a citywide basis and ways to fund the projects.  

Five key conclusions were reached from the community surveys completed by 938 residents, close to double the 500 responses expected. 

One, Laguna Beach residents know the city is vulnerable to fires and other disasters.

Two, residents support undergrounding, especially along Laguna Canyon Road;

Three, the two ballot measures are viable for further planning, but require community education for the 2018 ballot:

Four, a local neighborhood parcel tax is not viable at this time and requires community education;

And five, putting both measures on the same ballot could jeopardize the viability of both and requires more community education about the necessity of each measure, followed by polling analysis.

Conclusions were derived from the responses to four options

The conclusions were derived from the responses to four options:

*A one-cent sales tax requiring two-thirds majority vote 

*A $115 million general obligation bond requiring a two-thirds majority vote

*A one-cent tax requiring a 50 plus one majority vote

*A Community Facilities District Bond approved by a two-thirds majority of the voters in the district

The survey did not include using city funds for the undergrounding, as proposed by some residents, preferring pay-as-you- go funding. 

In a separate, but related agenda item, the council will also vote on a staff recommendation to enter into a contract with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP for bond counsel and bond disclosure counsel on legal issues before and after the election.

The required services are related to the council’s direction to develop a general obligation bond to fund undergrounding of key evacuation routes and formation of Community Facilities District ballot measure neighborhoods. 

A $35,000 appropriation from the Street Lighting Fund is recommended by staff for as a contingency fund.

Fees for bond counsel for General Obligation bonds go from $65,000 for initial series to $47,500 for additional series and $70,000 for the initial Community Facilities District and $60,000 for additional series.

Disclosure counsel will cost $32,500 for each General Obligation Bond series and $40,000 for the Community Facilities District bond series.

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