Volume 15, Issue 75  |  September 19, 2023SubscribeAdvertise

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Letters to the Editor

I’ll be voting “No” on the Woods Cove undergrounding, instead moving to solar

Since the early ‘70s, Joe Chiquete was known as the “czar of undergrounding” in Laguna Beach, overseeing the city’s efforts in this area until his retirement around 2015. At that time, there were limited funds and no comprehensive plan for citywide utility undergrounding.

To this day, the city’s primary strategy for underground utility projects involves encouraging parcel owners to explore the formation of Rule 20b assessment districts. These districts can impose taxes on themselves, with the requirement that 50% or more of the assessed members agree to tax 100% of parcel owners. The city typically contributes 10% for its “General Benefit” portion as required by Article XIIID and SB 218.

It’s important to note that participation in assessment districts is voluntary, and no parcel owner is obligated to impose taxes on themselves or their neighbors. However, the absence of a master plan over the past 50+ years has resulted in higher costs and delayed progress in undergrounding city utilities.

After nearly a decade of planning and development, the Woods Cove 2014-2 Assessment District, if formed, will be the city’s largest Utility Underground District, encompassing 380 parcels. The upcoming schedule for this project is as follows:

–September 26: City Council Meeting to Adopt Resolution of Intention and Resolution to Preliminarily Approve the Engineer’s Report

–Early October: Mailing of ballots to affected property owners

–December 12 (tentative): City Council Meeting Public Hearing and Tally of Ballots

Property owners were recently notified of this final phase through postcards with a QR code and a web address ( to stay informed.

The website includes informative slides presented at a September 14, 2023 workshop and a 53-page “Preliminary Engineer’s Report” detailing the assessment breakdown based on aesthetic (70%), safety (20%) and view (10%) benefits.

This process can serve as a valuable reference for other neighborhoods considering similar projects, helping them understand potential costs and the impact of taxation choices on their neighbors. Ballots will be distributed in October, and the outcome will be determined based on the total amount of YES and NO votes. If YES votes surpass NO votes, parcel owners will be obligated to pay their assessed amount.

In my case, as a property owner in the proposed district, I’ve decided to vote NO due to concerns about high property taxes and the potential financial burden on neighbors. Instead, I plan to invest in solar energy, which I believe is a more prudent choice. I hope that others in the Woods Cove AD share my perspective and communicate it to their neighbors before the October balloting.

JT Price

Laguna Beach

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Our Letters to the Editor policy

Letters to the Editor encourage healthy community discourse.

Letters may be edited for clarity, length, or appropriateness as needed.

Letters that we perceive as personal attacks will not be accepted, nor will advertisements for businesses.

We reserve the right to decline to publish letters that we feel do not meet our policy.

Please send Letters to the Editor to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for publication.

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In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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