Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Department of Public Works



May 20, 2004


June 8, 2004



Honorable Board of Supervisors


Neil R. Cullen, Director of Public Works


Underground Utility District on a Portion of Old County Road - Belmont Area



Adopt a resolution fixing a time and place for a public hearing to consider the formation of an underground utility district on a portion of Old County Road near Harbor Boulevard. (July 27, 2004, at 9:00 a.m.)


Previous Board Action

Adopted an ordinance specifying the procedures to be used in forming underground utility districts.


Key Facts


The City of Belmont is in the process of forming an underground utility district on its portion of Old County Road.



The City has requested that the County form an underground utility district over its portion of Old County Road from the Belmont City limits south to Harbor Boulevard, in order to require the removal of all overhead utility wires on Old County Road from Belmont's northerly city limits Harbor Boulevard.



We are recommending that the underground utility district be extended approximately 400 feet south of Harbor Boulevard in order to complete the under-grounding of utility wires for the portion of Old County Road that is currently within the unincorporated area.



Section 4.40.020 of the County Ordinance Code requires a public hearing before an underground utility district can be formed.



Approximately 1,000 feet of Old County Road between the Belmont City limits south of Ralston Avenue to the San Carlos City limits south of Harbor Boulevard is within the unincorporated area. The City of Belmont asked that the County form an underground utility district in order to improve the appearance of the entire street area from Ralston Avenue to Harbor Boulevard. We are recommending that the remaining section of the road in the unincorporated area also be included in the underground district at the same time, as it is relatively short and the adjacent property on the west side of the road is within the corporate limits of the City of Belmont.


We are also proposing that the cost of undergrounding PG&E's facilities be financed using the County's allocation of Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Rule 20A, Replacement of Overhead with Underground Electric Facilities credits (Rule 20A), that the County has with PG&E, and PG&E has approved the proposed district limits that must be established as a condition for using the Rule 20A credits to finance the undergrounding work.


The conversion of any electrical service on private property is the responsibility of the property owner, and notices will be sent to affected property owners notifying them of the public hearing and the estimated costs of undergrounding their utility services. The cost to convert an electrical service varies and the following are the most recent cost ranges for the conversion work on private property:




Residential 100 amp ......................................

$1,500 to $3,000



Commercial/Multiunit Residential 200 amp .........

$1,600 to $3,000



Heavy Commercial 300 amp ...........................

$2,000 to $3,500


The undergrounding of the other utilities such as SBC Communications Inc., and Comcast Cable will also be done at the same time and will be financed by the respective agencies.


The existing lights of the Belmont Highway Lights District, a County operated lighting district, are on the existing utility poles and will also be removed. The City of Belmont has agreed to finance the installation of "stand alone" light poles and the necessary wiring to maintain the current lighting on the street. This will be covered by a separate agreement between the lighting district and the City if your Board approves the underground district.


Vision Alignment

We believe our recommendation is consistent with the Shared Commitment to be a "responsive, effective and collaborative government" and Goal Number 20, "government decisions are based on careful consideration of future impact, rather than temporary relief or immediate gain," as the undergrounding of utilities meets the long term goal of improving the corridor.


Fiscal Impact

The time involved in developing the report to your Board and noticing the property owners is being absorbed by the Public Works budget. The cost to underground all overhead transmission and distribution facilities within the road right-of-way, if the formation of a district is approved, is proposed to be financed with the Public Utility Commission Rule 20A funds as discussed above, and is estimated to be approximately $300,000.


The County receives approximately $600,000 in Rule 20A allocations per year and there are sufficient allocations available to finance this project.


There is no impact to the General Fund.


A form of resolution has been approved by County Counsel.