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Utility Underground District

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Adam Hendel, Principal Engineer
(805) 897-1921


Property owners interested in forming a utility underground assessment district can request the City of Santa Barbara to administer the formation process. There are three ways property owners can underground existing overhead utilities:

1.  Rule 20A - Projects that fall under Rule 20A are paid for by all utility ratepayers, not just those who live in the area to be undergrounded. To qualify for full funding, projects must provide a benefit to the general public, not just the affected customers in the area by satisfying one or more of the below criteria:

  • unusually heavy concentration of overhead facilities;
  • heavily traveled area;
  • qualifies as an arterial or major collector road. See City of Santa Barbara Street Classifications map here
  • within or passing through a civic, recreational, or scenic area.

The City’s Rule 20A work credit balance is approximately $2.4 million as of May 2021.  Cliff Drive from Salida del Sol to San Rafael Avenue was selected as the City's next utility underground district. Please click here for more information.  The design process is scheduled for 2024 with construction planned to be completed in 2025 and 2026.

Note, this program has been phased out by the CA Public Utilities Commission.  At this time, there will be no further undergrounding projects under this rule in the City.

2.  Rule 20B-  Projects that fall under Rule 20B allow property owners to elect to form an underground utility assessment district when Rule 20A does not apply. See Underground Utility Assessment District (UUAD) Informational Binder below for additional information on forming a district.

3.  Rule 20C -  Projects that fall under Rule 20C enables property owners to privately fund undergrounding the overhead facilities if neither of the above apply. Generally, these projects are under 600 feet in length with minimal impacts to the services of adjacent properties.

The City will be involved in private projects only in regards to permitting the construction in the City street and an electrical inspection of the conversion of the meter to underground.  If you wish to proceed with a private project, it is recommended to scope out the boundary or poles to be removed and then contact either a utility planning consultant or the utilities listed below:

  • Southern California Edison – (805) 683-5211 - $600/pole fee to start the process of a Planner performing a site visit with you.
  • Frontier Communications – La Kuzela at ladislav.j.kuzela@ftr.com – Engineering deposit is required based on a scope of work estimate.
  • Cox Communications – Jose Murillo at Jose.Murillo@cox.com - $1,000 flat fee.

The City does not warranty this information and it is subject to change from the utility companies without notice.

Need more guidance? Check out our Underground Utility Assessment District Informational Binder located here.