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Utility undergrounding plans move ahead in Laguna Beach’s Woods Cove neighborhood

Utility undergrounding plans move ahead in Laguna Beach’s Woods Cove neighborhood
Plans will proceed for undergrounding utilities in Laguna Beach’s Woods Cove area, the City Council decided Tuesday night. (File Photo)

A crowd of residents cheered Tuesday night as the Laguna Beach City Council voted unanimously to continue with plans to place utility lines underground in their Woods Cove neighborhood.

The residents who attended the meeting were nearly unanimous in their support for the council’s decision to appropriate $300,000 to expand the project design.

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“We will do whatever it takes to get this project moving forward,” said Karen Klammer, who has headed a grassroots effort to get neighborhood support for undergrounding.

“It is a dynamite keg ready to go off,” resident G. Ray Kerciu said, referring to the possibility of downed power lines igniting fires in the hills surrounding Woods Cove. “The city should be concerned about our safety.”

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The city already has spent $600,000 on project assessments and design, and 199 property owners (representing about 60% of the 335 parcels) have put up $99,500 toward it, according to a city staff report.

When neighborhood petitions were circulated in 2014, property assessments were projected to be $6,000 to $45,000. Because of the proposed redesign, the estimated average cost is now $43,000 up to $100,000.

The council was tasked with deciding whether to postpone the redesign and survey residents again to ensure there was still neighborhood support with the increased costs, or move forward with the $300,000 appropriation, bringing the total city cost to nearly $1 million.

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