Wouldn't it be nice if all of us could choose what parts of our agreements we would live up to and ignore those which are no longer convenient?
SDG&E likes to tout all the undergrounding they are doing in conjunction with their new, larger, high-profile electric substation on 12 acres of currently vacant bayfront property.
They lament that only 300 feet of new high voltage transmission lines are being proposed above ground and that only six new power poles ranging from 85 to 165 feet are being added and that only 700 to 1,000 feet of existing lines, and a 165-foot lattice tower will remain.
SDG&E of course does not mention the new large 68-foot steel A frames and 80-foot communication tower that will also dominate the landscape and that new lines and steel A frames could be installed in the future.
Lost behind closed doors is that the undergrounding on the bayfront was specifically agreed to in a 2004 MOU with the city and that if “additional transmission lines” were needed, “SDG&E will file for such lines to be undergrounded as a preferred alternative and work cooperatively with the city to maintain this area as an underground district.” Broken promise number one.
In this same MOU, SDG&E agreed that when the switchyard (substation) was moved, the remaining existing 138kV transmission lines, along with their supporting structures and lattice towers, would be removed. Broken promise number two.
Sadly, the city, in its rush to show progress on the bayfront and get the hotels and condos in the ground, has been reluctant to enforce their agreement with SDG&E even though compliance with the terms of the MOU is a specific condition of an automatic 20-year renewal of their franchise agreement.
Even more disturbing is action taken by someone at the city, without a public hearing explaining SDG&E’s proposed design, which changed the city’s Local Coastal Plan to remove explicit language that stated “High-voltage (230kV) transmission lines shall be placed below ground.”
At the same time this was done, apparently a new land parcel was also created for SDG&E’s substation with no height limit restriction!
In 2010 the mayor and two current councilmembers wrote SDG&E stating their support for a new “state of the art” and “smaller and lower profile substation” on the southern bayfront citing the 2004 MOU. Yet this is not what SDG&E is delivering.
It is time for the city to live up to the promise of a new bayfront. It’s time to let SDG&E know that what comes down does not have to go up, again.
Moot is an attorney and former Chula Vista councilman. Padilla is the former mayor of Chula Vista and a signator of the 2004 MOU.