The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Alarmed Members Sound Off on SDG&E

In response to SDG&E's pole replacement project in the Ranch (see To Stop SDG&E, the RSFA Must Act ASAP), The RSF Post has received a multitude of letters from concerned residents and members who have already been negatively affected. We post these letters here to inform our readers of what is happening in their community and to empower them to do something about it.

Hopefully, the RSFA has or will immediately hire the appropriate law firm to determine what, if any, rights it and its' members have. If there are legal rights, then hopefully the RSFA has or will immediately proceed to seek a remedy on behalf of all RSFA members. If the RSFA is not going to act or do so very promptly, then neighbors may want to join together to hire a law firm that has specific expertise in the Public Utilities Commission field. Time is absolutely of the essence.

If anything else, please contact SDG&E to voice your concern regarding this project:

  • Write to Scott Drury, SDG&E President, and Caroline Winn, SDG&E Chief Operating Officer, at SDG&E, Sempra Energy Corporate Headquarters, 488 8th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Email SDG&E Public Affairs Manager Joe Gabaldon at jgabaldon@semprautilities.com
  • Call SDG&E customer service at 844-210-5821

The RSF Post is committed to keeping our readers informed with the latest developments on this issue as best we can. Please help us in this effort by submitting your comments, letters and articles to us online at rsfpost.com or email us at: rachel@rsfpost.com. We will continue to add to these letters below as they are submitted. This is your forum. Make your voice heard.



Mark Nelson:

This project has already begun on our "block". They have been working for almost 2 weeks now to replace the 3 poles in and around our property, and already have some of the new ones in place. The project has not started well from our perspective, with the subcontractors being disrespectful of our property and the neighborhood, to say the least.

First, some background: like all residents, we received letters from SDG&E advising us about an "Overhead and Underground Replacement Project." The first notice came in November, 2016, with a second one last year. Each time, we called to inquire about specifics: What are you doing? Do you need access to the property? When will you be here? Etc. Both times the representatives we talked to at SDG&E were unable to provide any specifics and talked in vague terms about doing survey work and inspecting poles. Both times they assured us that they would let us know before any "real work" was to commence.

So, we were surprised last Monday when we discovered two subcontractors digging in our front yard. I talked to them and they told me about replacing the poles in the area. They seemed to be doing careful work - ie, digging carefully next to the existing pole to prepare the footing for a new pole. I could see that they had removed a drain line in the process.
On Tuesday, the contractor parked a porta-potty in the back corner of our property. They were surprised when we told them that we didn't want it there, and seemed to think that they could put it anywhere they liked. It's apparent they're accustomed to working in the city where there are sidewalks and a defined public right-of-way. After we kicked that off our property, the porta-potty bounced around for a few days on other neighbor's properties - no doubt they, too, complained.

They are also using the empty lot next door as a staging area for their trucks and equipment, to gather for lunch, etc. creating a lot of extra noise and nuisance for us. That is a private property and I doubt they have permission, but since it is vacant they are using it as they like. Not sure why as the main staging area they leased on Calzada is barely a mile away.

The big uh-oh came on Wednesday when a second subcontractor moved in to clear the way for the pole installations. Gone was the careful work; I arrived home Wednesday afternoon to discover three oleanders - plants that were 20 years old and up to 12' high - mowed completely down to the ground. They also ripped out a century plant and killed some other smaller plants. And by killed I mean there's nothing left - right down to the stubs. Not a pruning at all, and these plants will not be coming back. The status of the irrigation is yet TBD, as there are still open holes covered with plywood. I won't know the extent of the damage until they get done and we can do some further inspection. Had we been advised with even just 24 hours of notice we could have dug up all of these plants and moved them temporarily while the work was being done.

I emailed the association last weekend asking for help but still no response. I've talked twice to the SDG&E public relations person on the project, Joe, and while he listened patiently and indicated he would send me a damage claim form and have the foreman call me, I have received no response at this point after a week of waiting.

So, fair warning to our neighbors: they're coming for your landscaping! Dig it up, box it up, and set it aside now. They will show no mercy and provide no advance warning.

A quick update: I did receive a call at noon today from Joe Gabaldon with SDG&E. He had written down my email incorrectly and so I did not get the damage claim form. He did resend it to me this afternoon. He also indicated that he had spoken with the SDG&E project manager/coordinator who works on site with their subcontractors, and that I should be hearing from him soon. Joe indicated that they were working out some kinks with regards to how they approach the project and they were committed to doing better. So, those are some positive developments to report.

Here are some photos of the new poles. You can see the original poles are still in the ground with the new taller poles next to them:

SDGE Poles
SDGE Poles


Bruce & Nancy Henderson:

I have learned of SDG&E's plans to change out the poles. Do not let this happen! I have two on my property and I cannot have this atrocity in my yard! The wooden ones are bad enough.

If anything make them underground the poles. This is going the wrong way.

We already pay the highest rates in the United States. They stuck us with the bill for the Sunrise Power lines and want us to pay for the San Onofre screw up and shut down; and then they buried the waste onsite. They are NOT there to help us. They see us as suckers to take advantage of.

The PUC made it impossible for anyone to afford hanging utilities off these poles by increasing the per pole rent sky high (to encourage under grounding of utilities.) And SDG& E has been found negligent causing the huge Witch Fire and they probably think this will mitigate that liability and they can pass the costs on to us.

Do what ever it takes to stop them. Can you imagine looking over to ANY ridge line here and seeing metal poles towering above the trees?

STOP THEM! PLEASE...

Even worse though, as I look out to the east along the horse trail there are at least eight more.

Ilia Christy:

We must stop this SDG&E project to install taller utility poles. I feel that we should take the funds for this project and apply them to under grounding the power lines which is preferable from both a safety and fire prevention perspective, an aesthetic perspective, and a practical one. Once the utility lines are underground then SDG&E will not need to send crews out annually to inspect the trees and vegetation along the lines and send out other crews to trim trees. The annual budget for the tree maintenance along utility lines must also be significant. Getting rid of the visually unappealing power lines that criss cross our properties would be fantastic.

I feel strongly that we should fight to stop the current SDG&E project. Having helicopters flying low to the ground and hovering to install poles will be catastrophic to our horses. They will panic and will try to break out of stalls and paddocks with risk of significant injury. Should a rider be out on horseback when a helicopter flies overhead the risk of injury to both horse and rider is significant as the horse panics and tries to flee.

Let's work together to preserve and enhance our community, to protect ourselves and to help prevent future wildfires.

Andreas Bendl:

We should combine power cables with the fiber build-out and let PG&E hook up to our grid if it wants to power our homes, along with any number of other providers. That way we have it underground and PG&E can't tell us what it will look like that would be a worthwhile investment and boost home values to boot!!

Holly Manion:

SDG&E said they were under grounding utilities in areas "where feasible". RSF is a High Fire Risk Area especially with all the dry eucalyptus trees. During 2007 Witch Creek Fire and the 2014 fire that swept through RSF, Santa Ana winds were at least 80 mph. This area is one of the most important areas to underground for fire safety. It wasn't the wood pole that started the Witch Creek Fire. It was a tree that fell on the transmission lines that snapped and sparked. The same could happen again in RSF. SDG&E should be a good neighbor and use the $20,000,000 that is budgeted for this project to work with RSFA to underground all utilities.

In 1977 Rey Mowrey told new home residents that SDGE agreed to put future utilities underground. No more wooden pole! Does anyone know where to find this letter/agreement?

Janie Gould Licosati:

Great article Rachel. Thanks for keeping everyone aware of important news!

Diana Knickrehm:

Absolutely underground these! Whatever needs updating should go underground, not more poles. Don't allow them to get away with anything less.