LB Utility Undergrounding and Fire Safety Measure

Update- Measure P was rejected by voters in the November 6, 2018 elections!
Voter results – No’s 53 percent, Yes 46 percent.

Date: August 17, 2018

Is the City blowing smoke?

Will a whopping 12.9 percent sales tax increase for undergrounding a relatively small number of utility poles (compared to the total number of poles in existence) in our city really keep us safer from fires?

Is the City using fear of fire tactics to promote this new tax? Are they capitalizing on the increase of wildfire danger in our region and State to gain support for this tax?

Are they accurately stating the facts regarding the number of fires whose origin have been traced specifically to utility poles? Were these fires due to arson, unmaintained vegetation and trees, cars, and other reasons besides lack of utility pole maintenance?

Do you want to subsidize your neighbors undergrounding and ocean views when you have paid to underground your neighborhood already or for those not pole-less yet hope to have enough money to form an assessment district to underground your neighborhood one day?

Is it worth 25 plus years of city debt potentially costing residents and taxpayers billions?

Has the City been transparent with residents that this tax will be used to float a multi-hundred million dollar revenue bond which is our cities greatest debt ever?

Measure LL passed two years ago. The new tax was supposed to be used for public safety. Who not use this designated tax and other annual city surplus funds to under-ground our share of the cost to underground our major transportation corridors?

These are just a few of the questions being raised by residents in response to the new tax increase being proposed by the City.

Special Tax

On July 17, 2018, the Laguna Beach City Council approved a Special Tax Ballot Measure titled “Laguna Beach Utility Undergrounding and Fire Safety Measure” to be placed on the November 6, 2018 ballot. This measure requires a two-thirds voter approval to pass.

The measure asks qualified voters to approve a special tax to increase City transactions (sales) and use tax rate by one percent (1%).

Otherwise, in addition to assuming debt of a fifth of a billion dollars over the next 25 years, we will pay more daily for everything we buy like cars, appliances, restaurants, home remodeling, internet shopping and more just because we are Laguna residents. This tax will severely impact residents, businesses and visitors.

Is this second tax increase in two years for public safety necessary?

We have a system: Residents support utility undergrounding and have invested in un-dergrounding for years through the City’s Assessment District process. The process allows homeowners to underground their public or private neighborhoods at a shared cost. This is fair and equitable. It does not burden others and requires no additional taxpayer subsidies. No residents have asked for the City to change the process. No individual residential neighborhoods should expect to be subsidized. We expect to “pay as we go.”

We have money: Two years ago we approved Measure LL which generates $4+ ,ioons per year. The funds were approved for public safety use. In addition, annually we have millions in budget surpluses that can immediately be directed to undergrounding. State grants and SCE Rule 20 funds are available. We really can “pay as we go.”

We are safe: We increased fire staff, updated equipment, maintain open spaces, im-plemented drones, trim trees and promote fire safety citywide. We have faith in our fire department and surrounding fire agencies too protect us. We can “pay as we go” for their services.

We have agency partners: SCE plans are underway to underground a portion of Cal-trans’ LCR already. They own it, they should pay. We can support undergrounding the remaining LCR poles for safety and aesthetic improvements and pay our share.

What happened to our historical practice of Paying As We Go and Living Within Our Means?

Please review the following documents and decide for yourself before voting in November.

City Resolution #18.041. Click here
2018 City Tax Measure Argument Click here
2018 City Attorney Tax Measure Analysis. Click here
2018 City Tax Measure Rebuttal Click here
2018 City Elections Ballot Entry Click here

S.T.O.P. (Laguna group opposition to tax measure website) Click here
2018 S.T.O.P. Tax Measure Argument Click here
2018 S.T.O.P. Tax Measure Rebuttal Click here
S.T.O.P. Measure P Update here
Letter To The Editor – LB Indy – City’s Money Tree Is Us! Click here

Community Opinions:
Letter To The Editor – LB Indy – Sales Tax Increase Isn’t Needed for Public Safety. Click here
Letter To The Editor – LB Indy – Unintended Consequences from Higher Taxes. Click here

Share your thoughts with us. Click here

The Undergrounding Program Manager – Wade Brown

The Undergrounding Program Manager is Wade Brown. The salary range for this position is $8,744 to $13,465. Mr. Brown assumed this position on March 13, 2017. Here are the essential functions of the position: Manages and coordinates the development and execution of the City’s utility undergrounding program including strategic planning, program development, financial planning and management of the overall undergrounding strategies; and contract procurement, construction and contract management of undergrounding projects. Essential Functions:

(The essential functions or duties listed below are intended only as illustrations of the various types of work that may be performed. The omission of specific statements of duties does not exclude them from the position if the work is similar, related or a logical assignment to the position.)

• Plans, develops, and manages the implementation of the City’s overall undergrounding program and projects.
• Oversee the development and implementation of the Undergrounding Assessment Districts.
• Work with the City Council Subcommittee, prepare staff reports and make presentations to the City Council.
• Work with the California Public Utility Commission and State Legislators on hearings, proceedings, and legislation and laws related to undergrounding.
• Develops/tracks program and project budgets, schedules, work plans, labor utilization, and cost estimates/projections.
• Oversees the development of specifications and bid documents for a variety of public utilities undergrounding related projects.
• Recommends contract awards, negotiates contract provisions and coordinates, reviews and approves contractor’s performance.
• Manages contract compliance including adherence to change order and claims provisions.
• Represents the City in negotiations with other agencies, utilities, groups and individuals on a variety of issues pertaining to public utilities.
• Meets with community representatives and developers to review projects and activities.
• Performs all other duties as required.

Tiffany Bates
Human Resources/Risk Manager
City of Laguna Beach
Phone: (949) 497-0311
Fax: (949) 497-0739

Are There Grounds For Proposing The Undergrounding Ballot Measure?

An extensive utility undergrounding campaign funded by taxpayer dollars is well underway by city officials, staff, and hired legal and finance consultants targeting a November 2018 ballot measure.

The urgent move to underground city power poles has become a concerning and controversial issue for many reasons but primarily because it requires our city to take on substantial long-term debt by either taxing ourselves (property assessment tax), or increasing the local sales tax, or possibly both.

While the final initiative is still in progress, there is growing concern that the city is moving at record speed on the issue and failing to listen to its residents and prove that their information is entirely accurate and factual. This concerns LBCHAT and it should concern every property owner and resident too.

Here are some concerns expressed by residents (in no particular order) and some facts on the utility undergrounding initiative:

Fact: In March 2017, the City created a new Undergrounding Manager position at $230,000 per year. This hire will be in place 18 months prior to our opportunity to even vote for or against the initiative in November 2018 and will cost us about $345,000 annually. The City estimates over 6 1/2 years and possibly $10M spent before construction would even begin on undergrounding due to planning, engineering and approvals. Click here for UM job description and salary pdf.

Concern: The city appears to be moving forward as if Laguna voters have already approved the measure.

Fact: Campaign consultants were hired to conduct surveys crafted to support the initiative costing approximately $240,000. First survey results did not provide the support expected so a second survey was approved by City Council and is currently in progress. In addition, records are showing that nearly $30,000 was spent on TV advertising on CNN and Fox News stations through Cox Cable.

Concerns: The campaign outreach messages are fear-based and have has outraged some Laguna residents. Many survey participants have called the surveys bogus and blatantly obvious that they were created to produce the results the city intended to support the measure.

Fact: Laguna fire history: Contrary to what residents may be hearing during this recent urgent undergrounding movement by the city, the fact is that there have been no major fires caused by utility poles in Laguna Beach. The devastating 1993 fire was caused by arson. Laguna like many other cities in California falls under the high-fire danger umbrella. This is one reason why all utility companies state-wide are already abiding by and implementing strict fire safety regulations for electrical distribution systems.

Concerns: Residents felt safe with their fire departments performance and now have concerns due to the city fire fear promotions. Why has the city not promoted UU before now since the big fire they refer to happened in 1993?

Fact: Fire safety issues have been addressed in light of recent fires and California’s drought conditions. In December of 2017 the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ordered all utilities to implement new fire safety measures for electrical distribution systems in high-risk areas. The CPUC and Cal Fire created a “Fire-Threat Map” where stricter fire safety regulations are being implemented, including some in Laguna in Tier 2 (high) and Tier 3 (highest) areas, and especially along Laguna Canyon Road. These regulations create significant new fire prevention rules for utility poles and wires, and frequent monitoring and inspection of all utility poles, including immediate correction of safety hazards in high fire threat areas, correction of non-immediate fire risks in Tier 3 and 2 areas within 6 months and 12 months, respectively, and major new rules for vegetation management. Click to view Fire Map Report here. These safety measures will sharply reduce the proposed risks.

Concerns: Why are we rushing to underground in proposed evacuation areas rather than allowing SCE to comply with the new regulations? If SC Edison fails to comply and meets the new regulations, its quite possible they could be legally required to underground the utilities at their own costs.

Fact: The urban parts of Laguna Beach (downtown and residential zones along PCH) were excluded from the CPUC Fire Threat Map because they have low vegetation fuel density, very low continuity, and a high degree of access for fire suppression forces. They are deemed low risk for a fire to grow out of control and based on this the CPUC rejected the City’s urging to designate its downtown urban areas as a high risk zone.

Concerns: Why is the City is insisting on undergrounding utility poles in these areas using the “evacuation routes” they have arbitrarily created? All neighborhood streets become evacuation routes so why not address all poles citywide? Fallen trees, light poles and parked cars provide as much obstruction in an evacuation as does a fallen power line. We can’t remove all trees because they might possibly catch fire and obstruct roadways. 90 percent of all fires are human caused (cigarettes, campfires and arson) and electrical transmission fires causing widespread damage are an extremely low percentage of all fires.

Fact: The City Underground Sub Committee City leaders and staff actually traveled to the CPUC in San Fransisco to present the argument for moving Laguna into a high-risk category. Click here.

Concerns: Residents are publicly complaining that as a result of the City’s fire and fear-tactic actions, their homeowner and fire insurance rates have increased and some policies dropped as insurance companies no longer want to insure homes in our city. This backlash from the fire danger promotion may cause substantial increase in insurance rates and possibly cancellations of coverage for our area.

Fact: Laguna Canyon Road is a State owned Right of Way, and is the responsibility of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). They are currently planning its widening and will pay for the removal of poles and overhead wires. Caltrans already underground their utilities at Big Bend in 2016 due to concern’s of vehicle safety.

Concerns: Why do Laguna homeowners and residents need to spend millions funding a 30 year bond and adding 1% sales tax when SCE and SDG&E has annual funds available to underground utilities and they can lobby the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for additional funding. Why would our city burden us with this type of long-term debt when in fact overhead utilities most likely will be obsolete in next 10-20 years. If the poles and wires are scheduled to come down is the city’s proposal just to to secure more tax revenue forever by adding the $1% sales tax of undirected funds? When it’s not deemed necessary any longer for undergrounding the sales tax stays in place until voters vote it out. The city will never revisit this and concerns are that it will continue along with our other tax dollars and go towards the Employee Pension Fund and other City Council whims.

Fact: Many residential neighborhoods have already paid tens of thousands of dollars to underground their own neighborhoods with their own money. Many neighborhoods still cannot afford to form assessment district and costs to underground the utilities in their neighborhoods. Some local assessment districts are still paying: Coast Royal, Agate/Glenneyre, Woods Cove, Diamond/Crestview, Ruby Catalina to just name a few. In the Diamond street area the average assessment was $66,000, and Agate/Glenneyre was $54,000.

Concerns: Some of these neighborhood undergrounding’s were on so called “evacuation routes.” Should they now be strapped with paying other neighborhoods to be underground in arbitrary evacuation routes? Neighborhoods still without underground utilities will still need to pay too underground their own neighborhoods and other “evacuation routes” utilities. This personal debt is going to quite possible bankrupt many on fixed incomes or make it difficult or impossible to live in Laguna any longer.

Fact: Revenue resources: The City has determined that the only solution to under grounding utilities is by asking taxpayers to shoulder the majority of the financial burden.

Concerns: The city has not done the proper due-diligence in exploring and working effectively with SCE or other entities to share the burden even though several utility companies and Cal Trans are stockholders in the main evacuation routes. It doesn’t appear that the City has considered leveraging its own revenues to support a revenue bond or looked at the possibility of using Measure LL, the street lighting fund, or the $6.2 million in the City’s disaster contingency fund which could support a substantial debt towards undergrounding.

Fact: Our City annual budget is increasing each year.

Concerns: The City seems to be getting comfortable with a growing annual budget. Some residents feel its growing too rapidly and yet problems are rising and city services and quality of life is deteriorating. Many say its time our city leaders live within its means, stop spending like trust funders, make better use of discretionary expenditures and use existing budgeted tax dollars to underground the utilities at a rate we can afford. Assessing residents for 30+ years on their property taxes bills that are no longer tax deductible under the new federal tax law if they exceed $10,000 will have an impact for sure. Raising our sales tax also has negative and long-term impacts. There is no control over where the tax dollars are to be spent.

Fact: Fire and police support UU. Both of these public safety employee groups strive to do their jobs to the best of their abilities and part of this involves looking at related risks. It is with the best of intentions that they endorse lowering risks in our community and their opinion is important to us.

Concerns: Keep in mind that they are also part of a city government system that expects to be supported when decisions are made at the highest levels. There appears to be a difference of opinion as to what is desired vs necessary in regards to undergrounding and funding. Why haven’t these public safety departments bought this forward prior to 2017 and demanded something be done if in fact undergrounding poles is so dangerous and necessary?

Fact: In the City’s capital improvement plan, over $30M is allocated to items like fire station remodel ($6M), community pool ($15M!!!) and sidewalks on PCH ($9.7M) which is a state highway.

Concerns: If undergounding utilities is so essential to our safety, why is a community pool prioritized as a capital improvement over undergrounding? Adding numerous staff over the last 3 years has added to our City’s payroll and hugh unfunded pension liabilities. It is projected that the costs of the City employees health insurance plan is expected to increase by 18%. Other questionable spending is the purchase of $3 million in new vehicles in under 3 years, replacing low mileage vehicles and spending millions of dollars purchasing real estate that is was not considered necessary. How can we sustain such budget expenditures?

Note: We hope this information has been helpful to you. Other concerns and facts will be added as they are shared with us. If you have additional concerns and facts on this topic, please send them to us for possible inclusion.

LBCHAT focuses on city government accountability and transparency matters related to city business activities, city representatives, city management, escalating legal and consultant budgets, the overall increase in annual city spending and of course tax increases. We encourage voters to become more knowledgeable before casting their votes on in the November election.

We have attached several documents obtained from the city addressing undergrounding for your review and will be adding others as they become available to us. Click here:

The Independent Review Team 11-21-17 (“IRT Report”)

Community Survey And Ballot Measure Advisory 12-05-17

Bond Counsel Consultant Special Tax 12-06-17

Financial Advisors for Ballot Measure 01-09-18

Consultant Agreement Pre-election 01-10-18

Undergrounding Master Plan Presentation 02-06-18

City Undergrounding Campaign Spending 2018

Two local groups have cropped up in support or opposition to the UU measure. We encourage our subscribers to review their positions and better understand facts and concerns. They are:

Underground Laguna Now!

Here are more links that provide information on the Utility Undergrounding:
Get Off The Grid! – Undergrounding Guest Opinion Article
Fire Risks and Undergrounding – Guest Article
STOP Ad Placed in LB Indy
Should Power lines Be Underground? Article

Resident Concerns Ignored~ Undergrounding, May 24, 2018

Unanimous vote by City Council to underground Edison utility lines on “Key Evacuation Routes” by Ballot Measure, without first addressing the overwhelming concerns expressed by majority of residents aptly delivered during Public Comment. The opposition was well represented by a factual reasonable presentation delivered by the newly formed resident advocacy group STOP. Many concerned speakers brought forth substantive facts and valid concerns that should be reasonably considered and addressed by elected officials, prior to putting this measure to vote.

City has spent nearly half a million dollars and counting to advocate support of an under ground initiative but has ignored continued plea to consult with technological advancements by qualified energy professionals to deliver a comprehensive renewable sustainable energy plan to develop LB Solar City. To ignore available alternative energy sources is offensive toward the sustainable values of an environmentally sensitive aware community.

The city has been utilizing taxpayer money to advertise and promote their Under Grounding initiative using a cleverly designed emotional response delivered by a FIRE & FEAR Safety Campaign cleverly designed to corral sheep to favorable vote to increase Sales Tax to pay for Bonding the massive construction cost. A known business owner expressed his immediate concern.

The THIRD STREET construction debacle created a major disturbance, wait until Edison begins to trench the proposed “Key routes”. Edison has cleverly, with the assistance of the City, graciously agreed to allow taxpayers to be saddled with 100% of construction improvement cost for the aging infrastructure of EDISON, a multi billion privately owned company. Above ground utility poles don’t last forever. I find it particularly objectionable that a depreciating asset cost has not being factored into replacing archaic EDISON infrastructure. Where was the Fire & Fear campaign to underground the newly replaced poles, on LCR, 3 years ago?

Voter ignorance may win 2/3 vote, without STOP to advance an educational campaign regarding the financial risk of over spending that a debt liability of this magnitude will create for our village and the many other potential follies of cost over runs that are not being adequately addressed. I have suggested the city scale back the scope of the project to a reasonable level and include only MAIN Evacuation Routes of LCR and PCH. In this manner, city could pay as we go, using Measure LL Tax and Rule 20A credits to underground MAIN EVACUATION ROUTES.

It is reasonable to assume the intention of creating ‘Key ER’ is to gain voter favor, at the expense of those residents who have already “paid their fair share” to under ground their own neighborhoods. A misguided approach, but a clever effort to place the burden, on all taxpayers, to pay the share of key neighborhoods. Yes, this will benefit some, even specific City Council member, Toni Eisman had to recuse herself after the specific benefit was brought to attention of the city, by another resident.

One matter of particular concern is that the City must STOP (pun intended) the continued spending of the city taxpayer war chest to advocate and promote their advertising campaign designed to support the personal objective of City Council. California Government Code §54964(a) prohibits local governmental agencies from expending public funds to advocate for or against a ballot measure or other voting initiative, with some exceptions for educational/ informative materials.

In short, City Council is not adequately addressing resident concerns and are failing their constituents to reasonably explore advanced technological alternative energy sources and have refused to scale back the scope of the project to avoid assuming gross debt liability of cost over budget construction costs! We all know the government rarely comes in on budget for cost of construction.
CAUTION~BEWARE: City of Fresno went from 25M to 400M for bullet train under ground of utility lines!

Concerned Resident,
Lorene Laguna

Guest Letter – Why Underground Powerlines?

Why do City Councilmembers think it’s the resident taxpayers’ responsibility to pay for these misguided “Key Evacuation Routes” (“KER”) on state-owned LCR, Glenneyre/Monterey St and Virginia Way at double expense bonds and forever one percent sales tax to finance [the] Proposed Underground Tax and Bond agenda that “our Council” voted 5-0 to pursue?

There’s no fire danger on our City owned streets mentioned above. It’s a dinosaur concept…and for these additional reasons:
Edison/SDG&E have funded Undergrounding Programs of $125k annually. Caltrans is already planning/responsible to widen and underground Laguna Canyon Road (LCR); controls that State Owned Right of Way; and will pay with power companies like Big Bend area in 2016. I observed when there’s a serious fire like 1993, smart residents and guests did head for the Beach as a quick fourth real escape route, where you’re safe/can see what’s happening, as government officials, and resting firefighters did and they parked on Coast Hwy. You’re not going to head for any “KER” mentioned above…who “thought” those up?

I estimate the actual undergrounded portion of Laguna is closer to 80 percent (not the 40 percent Whalen purports), when you exclude CalTrans/State-owned LCR Right of Way, and no fire issue streets/North Laguna alleys. The City shouldn’t ask residents to pay for state-owned LCR undergrounding! Existing annual Edison/SDG&E Funding, credits purchased can take care of the few real powerline/traffic conflict locations left in the City for safety without bonds and one percent added sales tax that hurts local business and taxpayers. (Link to Bob Whalen’s Guest Column:

Councilmember Whalen no longer mentions the topic of residents: 1-who paid for undergrounding in previously completed private districts, 2-are currently paying these Underground Tax Assessments (CFD’s), and 3-who [will] soon pay the $40 to $80k cost (Coast Royale, SoLag). Where’s this “Second Ballot measure” to exempt them now Bob, vs your current proposal for previously paid residents to pay a second time, to favor 20 percent plus of residents who haven’t paid, including four of five Councilmembers, ready CFD residents put on hold? I can comment both sides of the argument of the City’s Bond/Tax Measure – have one residence with, one without underground/views. I chose to pay off, instead of double cost/30 year bond.

The City has managed 40 plus years of these Undergrounding Assessment Districts since the 1970s, and it now proposes to dupe past participating owners to pay it twice? Those seven active City’s Districts that were almost finalized are now on hold (to chase this obsolete idea of undergrounding taxation) with another bond measure against our properties, and a one percent forever sales tax that isn’t directed at specified items! Could this big $$$ actually go to pay unfunded Pension Plans or free undergrounding for those who haven’t paid for it – which might be the real reason, not fire safety and ”KER”? Informed residents say yes, absolutely – look at other City slush funds misdirected from other purposes (i.e. Parking Fund for decades, $4 million from Measure LL – Bed Tax allocated on 10/24/17).

The City Proposal to underground with 24,000 residents voting on a ballot is deceptive. Actually, 14,400 resident owners/taxpayers would bear this expense. It’s manipulative to propose a measure for a vote when 40 percent of residents are renters; and additionally 17 percent are absentee owners who can’t vote on what financially affects them. It’s also a disservice and betrayal of trust to owners who paid to underground for uncluttered ocean views. Forcing owners to pay twice constitutes fraud in my view, and could start a class action lawsuit for past payment damages by 40 plus years of previously paid owners as plaintiffs. Ask the Coast Royale owners after they pay their assessment to pay it twice, not!

I think all Laguna Locals should view this YouTube Video: “Tony Seba: Clean Disruption – Energy & Transportation”, to see the future of Energy/Transportation, that will shock you to see changes, future and overhead utilities are ancient technology, obsolete in 10-20 years. This Illustrates questionable leadership and lost $$$ spent to date by City to underground, and if understood, no need for undergrounding ballot vote.

To share a joint idea with another like-minded Lagunan – we suggest inviting Elon Musk to town as our guest. He’s a forward thinker, would be a great neighbor, and ask him to partner up to make Laguna Beach the first Solar City with his roof tiles, battery back up/Peaker Units, and his Tesla cars and trucks. If we added farming upper Laguna and Aliso Canyon valley floors after planner Sir Ebenezer Howard’s 1898 model for a Garden City, linking our work/jobs, farmlands, residential neighborhoods and recreational parks with pedestrian/bikeways it would be the live/work Utopian City of sustainability, surrounded by Greenbelts & Pacific Ocean. After all, Elon just works up the road in Hawthorne @ SpaceX, and he might need a second getaway beach home he can rocket to.

Bryan T.S. Menne – 54 year Laguna Resident, Former OCFD Paid Call Firefighter South Laguna-Station 6, Land Planner & CA Registered Landscape Architect.

Fire Risks and Undergrounding – Guest Article

“What I find most interesting is the tacit assumption that urban utility lines constitute high risk. Yes, there is risk of fire from utility lines, but the proponents do not quantify the risk for urban lines; rather, they talk about wildfires and car accidents without any hard numbers or facts. The Orange County Emergency Management Plan says that the risk of urban fire, caused by all sources, is about the same as an oil spill, train accident, or aircraft crash. The city has not cited any statistics of cars hitting poles. Nor will removing poles reduce accidents — cars will hit what was behind the poles — in some cases houses. The city has not done a cost/benefit analysis of risk vs. cost.

There is another assumption that is simply false: a fire caused by a downed pole in an urban area seldom spreads, as did the fire in North Laguna or Sonoma recently — the fires began in the dry chaparal. Wildfires start in the chaparal and head toward cities, not from them. Undergrounding the utilities in the city does nothing to reduce the risk of wildfires in the chaparal, nor does it put the high voltage, cross-country lines underground.

None of this information is new. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has been studying power line safety for over 100 years, and there are thousands of scientific papers published on the subject, but who has time to look up facts? We’ve seen time and again that science does not enter into City Council decisions, only tax and spend. Laguna Beach is not the first city to have utility poles — most cities have them. The truth be known, this initiative is about taxing and spending tens of millions for aesthetics and over-priced ocean views, not public safety. Under State law the city’s highest priority is safety, but it goes begging.

The Orange County Emergency Management Plan says that flood/storms, hazardous materials, earthquakes, epidemics, and mudslide/landslide are all higher and more frequent risks in Laguna Beach, yet the Council makes little-to-no effort for flood protection or mudslides, for which Laguna Beach regularly makes the national news. How quickly we forget the flooding, houses falling down hills, and deaths that have happened from mudslides. The slide in Montecito that killed dozens was only a few weeks ago.

As for exit routes, Laguna Canyon has a much higher risk from flooding and slides than from downed poles. Remember how many days it was impassible after the last major flood, as was PCH in South Laguna? The flooding is regular and not rare. Unfortunately, flood control is not chic or trendy or ever mentioned in real estate ads, i.e., 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, great view, and flood control. It is the last item that our City Council is, by law, responsible for, not great views.”