Grover will allow - at least temporarily - developers to pay fees instead of undergrounding utilities

Grover Beach’s City Council has approved a temporary interim policy regarding placing utility lines underground – one that give developers an option to pay fees or to place existing lines underground on a project site.

The city has had a long-standing code that requires developers to place lines underground. But that code has been applied inconsistently, according to city staff. Also, some projects in older neighborhoods have seen a patchwork of underground and overhead utilities, which is costly, said City Manager Bob Perrault.

The Council approved an interim policy for in-lieu fees, giving developers the option to pay $300 per linear foot of overhead lines on their sites instead of placing those lines underground. The money from those in-lieu fees would go towards city streets identified by the city that could use Pacific Gas and Electric Rule 20A funds for placing lines underground. Those funds can be used to match local funds to expand the projects.

The in-lieu program will work best for infill projects where main distribution overhead lines already exist, Perrault said. The city manager said he believes a permanent ordinance will be developed over the next 60 days.

--Nick Wilson

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