Chapter 12.04
UNDERGROUND UTILITIES

Sections:

Article I. Undergrounding Districts

12.04.010    Definitions.

12.04.020    Public hearing.

12.04.030    Engineering report.

12.04.040    Designation.

12.04.050    Compliance required.

12.04.060    Exceptions – Emergency or unusual circumstances.

12.04.070    Exceptions – Facilities.

12.04.080    Notice to property owners and utility companies.

12.04.090    Utility company responsibility.

12.04.100    Property owner responsibility.

12.04.110    City responsibility.

12.04.120    Time extension.

12.04.130    Penalty for violation.

Article II. New Construction

12.04.140    New construction – Underground installations required.

12.04.150    Development subject to undergrounding requirements.

12.04.160    Exceptions to undergrounding requirements for new construction.

12.04.170    Deferment of undergrounding.

12.04.180    Development of single-family residential lots and subdivision of less than five lots.

12.04.190    Manner of installation.

12.04.200    Plans required.

12.04.210    Waivers.

12.04.220    Placement of utility facilities.

Article I. Undergrounding Districts

12.04.010 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following words or phrases shall be defined as follows:

(A) “Commission” means the California Public Utilities Commission.

(B) “Development” means the activity of preparing land and constructing buildings or other facilities in order to establish or expand a land use.

(C) “Person” means and includes individuals, firms, corporations, partnerships and their agents and employees.

(D) “Poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures” means poles, towers, supports, wires, conductors, guys, stubs, platforms, crossarms, braces, transformers, insulators, cutouts, switches, communication circuits, appliances, attachments and appurtenances located aboveground and used or useful in supplying electric, communication or similar or associated service.

(E) “Underground utility district” or “district” means that area in the City within which poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures are prohibited as such area is designated and described in a resolution adopted pursuant to the provisions of PMC 12.04.040.

(F) “Utility” includes all persons or entities supplying electric, communication or similar or associated service by means of electrical materials or devices.

(G) “Utility facilities” shall mean poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures as defined in subsection (D) of this section. (Ord. 724 § 2, 1988; Ord. 134 § 1, 1968)

12.04.020 Public hearing.

The Council may from time to time call public hearings to ascertain whether the public necessity, health, safety or welfare requires the removal of poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures within designated areas of the City and the underground installation of wires and facilities for supplying electric, communication or similar or associated service. The City Clerk shall notify all affected property owners as shown on the last equalized assessment roll and utilities concerned by mail of the time and place of the hearings at least 10 days prior to the date thereof. Each such hearing shall be open to the public and may be continued from time to time. At each such hearing all persons interested shall be given an opportunity to be heard. The decision of the Council shall be final and conclusive. (Ord. 134 § 2, 1968)

12.04.030 Engineering report.

Prior to holding the public hearing, the City Engineer shall consult all affected utilities and shall prepare a report for submission at the hearing containing, among other information, the extent of the utilities’ participation and estimates of the total costs to the City and affected property owners. The report shall also contain an estimate of the time required to complete the underground installation and removal of overhead facilities. (Ord. 134 § 3, 1968)

12.04.040 Designation.

If, after any such public hearing the Council finds that the public necessity, health, safety or welfare requires the removal and the underground installation within a designated area, the Council shall, by resolution, declare the designated area an underground utility district and order the removal and underground installation. The resolution shall include a description of the area comprising the district and shall fix the time within which the removal and underground installation shall be accomplished and within which affected property owners must be ready to receive underground service. A reasonable time shall be allowed for the removal and underground installation, having due regard for the availability of labor, materials and equipment necessary for the removal and for the installation of the underground facilities as may be occasioned thereby. (Ord. 134 § 4, 1968)

12.04.050 Compliance required.

Whenever the Council creates an underground utility district and orders the removal of poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures therein as provided in PMC 12.04.040, it is unlawful for any person or utility to erect, construct, place, keep, maintain, continue, employ or operate poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures in the district after the date when the overhead facilities are required to be removed by the resolution, except as the overhead facilities may be required to furnish service to an owner or occupant of property prior to the performance by the owner or occupant of the underground work necessary for the owner or occupant to continue to receive utility service as provided in PMC 12.04.100, and for such reasonable time required to remove the facilities after the work has been performed, and except as otherwise provided in this article. (Ord. 724 § 3, 1988; Ord. 134 § 5, 1968)

12.04.060 Exceptions – Emergency or unusual circumstances.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this article, overhead facilities may be installed and maintained for a period, not to exceed 30 days, without authority of the Director of Public Works in order to provide emergency service. The Director of Public Works may grant special permission on such terms as the Director of Public Works may deem appropriate, in cases of unusual circumstances, without discrimination as to any person or utility, to erect, construct, install, maintain, use or operate poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures. (Ord. 724 § 3, 1988; Ord. 134 § 6, 1968)

12.04.070 Exceptions – Facilities.

This article and any resolution adopted pursuant to PMC 12.04.040 shall, unless otherwise provided in such resolution, not apply to the following types of facilities:

(A) Any municipal facilities or equipment installed under the supervision and to the satisfaction of the City Engineer;

(B) Poles or electroliers used exclusively for street lighting;

(C) Overhead wires (exclusive of supporting structures) crossing any portion of a district within which overhead wires have been prohibited, or connecting to buildings on the perimeter of a district, when the wires originate in an area from which poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures are not prohibited;

(D) Poles, overhead wires and associated structures used for the transmission of electric energy at nominal voltages in excess of 34,500 volts;

(E) Overhead wires attached to the exterior surface of a building by means of a bracket or other fixture and extending from one location on the building to another location on the same building or to an adjacent building without crossing any public street;

(F) Antennas, associated equipment and supporting structures used by a utility for furnishing communication services;

(G) Equipment appurtenant to underground facilities, such as surface mounted transformers, pedestal mounted terminal boxes and meter cabinets, and concealed ducts;

(H) Temporary poles, overhead wires and associated overhead structures used or to be used in conjunction with construction projects. (Ord. 724 § 3, 1988; Ord. 134 § 7, 1968)

12.04.080 Notice to property owners and utility companies.

(A) Within 10 days after the effective date of a resolution adopted pursuant to PMC 12.04.040, the City Clerk shall notify all affected utilities and all persons owning real property within the district created by the resolution of the adopting thereof. The City Clerk shall further notify the affected property owners of the necessity that, if they or any person occupying the property desire to continue to receive electric, communication or similar or associated service, they or the occupant shall provide all necessary facility changes on their premises so as to receive the service from the lines of the supplying utility or utilities at a new location, subject to the applicable rules, regulations and tariffs of the respective utility or utilities on file with the Commission.

(B) Notification by the City Clerk shall be made by mailing a copy of the resolution adopted pursuant to PMC 12.04.040, together with a copy of this article, to affected property owners as such are shown on the last equalized assessment roll and the affected utilities. (Ord. 724 § 3, 1988; Ord. 134 § 8, 1968)

12.04.090 Utility company responsibility.

If underground construction is necessary to provide utility service within a district created by any resolution adopted pursuant to PMC 12.04.040, the supplying utility shall furnish that portion of the conduits, conductors and associated equipment required to be furnished by it under its applicable rules, regulations and tariffs on file with the Commission. (Ord. 134 § 9, 1968)

12.04.100 Property owner responsibility.

(A) Every person owning, operating, leasing, occupying or renting a building or structure within a district shall construct and provide that portion of the service connection on his property between the facilities referred to in PMC 12.04.090 and the termination facility on or within the building or structure being served, all in accordance with the applicable rules, regulations and tariffs of the respective utility or utilities on file with the Commission. In the event any person owning, operating, leasing, occupying or renting the property does not comply with the provisions of this subsection (A) within the time provided for in the resolution enacted pursuant to PMC 12.04.040, the City Engineer shall post written notice on the property being serviced and 30 days thereafter may authorize the disconnection and removal of any and all overhead service wires and associated facilities supplying utility service to the property; or

(B) Every person owning, operating, leasing, occupying or renting a building or structure within a district shall construct and provide that portion of the service connection on his property between the facilities referred to in PMC 12.04.090 and the termination facility on or within the building or structure being served, all in accordance with the applicable rules, regulations and tariffs of the respective utility or utilities on file with the Commission. If the above is not accomplished by any person within the time provided for in the resolution enacted pursuant to PMC 12.04.040, the City Engineer shall give notice in writing to the person in possession of the premises, and a notice in writing to the owner thereof as shown on the last equalized assessment roll, to provide the required underground facilities within 10 days after the receipt of the notice;

(C) The notice to provide the required underground facilities may be given either by personal service or by mail. In case of service by mail on either of such persons, the notice must be deposited in the United States mail in a sealed envelope with postage prepaid, addressed to the person in possession of the premises at the premises, and the notice must be addressed to the owner thereof as the owner’s name appears, and must be addressed to the owner’s last known address as it appears on the last equalized assessment roll, and when no address appears, to General Delivery, City of Palmdale. If notice is given by mail, the notice shall be deemed to have been received by the person to whom it has been sent within 48 hours after the mailing thereof. If notice is given by mail to either the owner or occupant of the premises, the City Engineer shall, within 48 hours after the mailing thereof, cause a copy thereof, printed on a card not less than eight inches by 10 inches in size to be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises;

(D) The notice given by the City Engineer to provide the required underground facilities shall particularly specify when work is required to be done, and shall state that if the work is not completed within 30 days after receipt of the notice, the City Engineer will provide the required underground facilities, in which case the cost and expense thereof will be assessed against the property benefited and become a lien upon the property;

(E) If, upon the expiration of the 30-day period, the required underground facilities have not been provided, the City Engineer shall forthwith proceed to do the work; provided, however, if the premises are unoccupied and no electric or communications services are being furnished thereto, the City Engineer shall, in lieu of providing the required underground facilities, have the authority to authorize the disconnection and removal of any and all overhead service wires and associated facilities supplying utility service to the property. Upon completion of the work by the City Engineer, he shall file a written report with the City Council setting forth the fact that the required underground facilities have been provided and the cost thereof, together with a legal description of the property against which the cost is to be assessed. The Council shall thereupon fix a time and place for hearing protests against the assessment of the cost of the work upon the premises, which time shall not be less than 10 days thereafter;

(F) The City Engineer shall forthwith, upon the time for hearing the protests having been fixed, give a notice in writing to the person in possession of the premises, and a notice in writing thereof to the owner thereof, in the manner provided in this section for the giving of the notice to provide the required underground facilities, of the time and place that the Council will pass upon the report and will hear protests against the assessment. The notice shall also set forth the amount of the proposed assessment;

(G) Upon the date and hour set for the hearing of protests, the Council shall hear and consider the report and all protests, if there are any, and then proceed to affirm, modify or reject the assessment;

(H) If any assessment is not paid within five days after its confirmation by the Council, the amount of the assessment shall become a lien upon the property against which the assessment is made by the City Engineer, and the City Engineer is directed to turn over to the assessor and tax collector a notice of lien on each of the properties on which the assessment has not been paid, and the assessor and tax collector shall add the amount of the assessment to the next regular bill for taxes levied against the premises upon which the assessment was not paid. The assessment shall be due and payable at the same time as the property taxes are due and payable, and if not paid when due and payable, shall bear interest at the rate of six percent per year. (Ord. 1299 § 9, 2007; Ord. U-1299 § 9, 2006; Ord. 134 § 10, 1968)

12.04.110 City responsibility.

The City shall remove at its own expense all City-owned equipment from all poles required to be removed under this article in ample time to enable the owner or user of the poles to remove them within the time specified in the resolution enacted pursuant to PMC 12.04.030. (Ord. 724 § 3, 1988; Ord. 134 § 11, 1968)

12.04.120 Time extension.

In the event that any act required by this article or by a resolution adopted pursuant to PMC 12.04.040 cannot be performed within the time provided on account of shortage of materials, war, restraint by public authorities, strikes, labor disturbances, civil disobedience, or any other circumstances beyond the control of the actor, then the time within which the act will be accomplished shall be extended for a period equivalent to the time of the limitation. (Ord. 724 § 3, 1988; Ord. 134 § 12, 1968)

12.04.130 Penalty for violation.

It is unlawful for any person to violate any provision or to fail to comply with any of the requirements of this article. Any person violating any provision of this article or failing to comply with any of its requirements shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500.00 or by imprisonment not exceeding six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Each such person shall be deemed guilty of a separate offense for each day during any portion of which any violation of any of the provisions of this article is committed, continued or permitted by such person, and shall be punishable therefor as provided for in this article. (Ord. 724 § 3, 1988; Ord. 134 § 13, 1968)

Article II. New Construction

12.04.140 New construction – Underground installations required.

Except as otherwise provided in this article, no building permit shall be issued for the construction of a building, nor shall any site plan be approved, nor any tract or parcel map be recorded, unless the Public Works Department has approved plans which show that the building or development will comply with the provisions of this article. (Ord. 724 § 4, 1988)

12.04.150 Development subject to undergrounding requirements.

Except as otherwise provided in this article, all utility facilities shall be installed underground if they are located on or adjacent to a lot being developed.

For the purposes of this section, utility facilities shall be deemed “adjacent” to a lot if they are located in a public right-of-way contiguous to the lot, including, but not limited to, a public utility right-of-way, flood control or drainage channel, or street or alley. (Ord. 724 § 4, 1988)

12.04.160 Exceptions to undergrounding requirements for new construction.

Notwithstanding the provisions of PMC 12.04.150, the following facilities and equipment shall not be required to be placed underground:

(A) Utility facilities approved by the Director of Building Services to be installed and maintained for a period not to exceed 30 days in order to provide emergency service;

(B) Temporary utility facilities used, or to be used, in conjunction with construction projects;

(C) Utility facilities used for the transmission of electric energy at voltages in excess of 50,000 volts;

(D) Equipment appurtenant to underground facilities, such as surface-mounted transformers, pedestal-mounted terminal boxes, meter cabinets and concealed ducts;

(E) Wires and enclosures attached to the exterior walls of a building for the purpose of interconnecting communication functions within the building;

(F) Street lighting, fire alarm devices, and traffic control apparatuses; and

(G) Utility facilities which are prohibited from being placed underground by rules and regulations of the Commission. (Ord. 724 § 4, 1988)

12.04.170 Deferment of undergrounding.

If the City Engineer finds that location, topography, soil conditions, or other factors make undergrounding technically or economically infeasible at the time of construction of the development, then the City Engineer may authorize deferment of the undergrounding of utility facilities, subject to the following conditions:

(A) Undergrounding shall not be deferred unless a security of a type specified in California Government Code Section 66499 is posted in an amount equal to the estimated cost of the undergrounding. The security instrument shall be approved by the City Attorney as to form and legal sufficiency.

(B) The City Engineer shall determine the estimated cost of undergrounding based on an estimate of the cost of undergrounding provided by the developer who shall bear the expense of preparing such estimate. Cost estimates shall account for inflation and cost increases, and shall include a separate item for contingencies in the amount of 15 percent of the estimated cost. (Ord. 724 § 4, 1988)

12.04.180 Development of single-family residential lots and subdivision of less than five lots.

Undergrounding of utility facilities “adjacent” to property being developed, as “adjacent” is defined in PMC 12.04.150, shall not be imposed as a condition upon the development of a single-family residential lot, the division of land resulting in four or fewer parcels, or the merger of four or fewer parcels, if the development, division, or merger is located in an area currently served by utility facilities. This section shall not restrict the City’s ability to require undergrounding of utility facilities located “on” a property. (Ord. 724 § 4, 1988)

12.04.190 Manner of installation.

All undergrounding, including the undergrounding of service laterals, required by PMC 12.04.150 shall be completed prior to the paving of streets; provided, however, that the City Engineer may waive this requirement if the undergrounding will not require reconstruction or repair of streets, or if unusual circumstances warrant such waiver. Furthermore, upon approval of a proposed tentative tract map, the Planning Commission may waive this requirement if this requirement imposes an undue hardship due to the physical condition of the subdivision.

The developer shall be responsible for undergrounding or relocating utility facilities and cooperating with the utilities involved, subject to the applicable rules, regulations and tariffs of the utilities on file with the Commission. (Ord. 724 § 4, 1988)

12.04.200 Plans required.

Plans detailing the location of all utility facilities required by PMC 12.04.150 to be installed underground shall be submitted for approval to the Public Works Department. The Public Works Department shall approve such plans if they meet the requirements of this article and other applicable provisions of this code.

The Public Works Department shall inspect each underground utility facility installation to ensure that such installation complies with City-approved plans. The developer installing the utility facilities shall bear the cost to the City of such inspections. (Ord. 724 § 4, 1988)

12.04.210 Waivers.

The City Council or the Planning Commission may waive the requirements of PMC 12.04.150 upon a finding that compliance with the requirements of that section would be technically or economically infeasible due to geologic, soil, or topographic conditions.

The City Council or the Planning Commission may condition such waiver as it deems necessary to effectuate the purposes and intent of this article. (Ord. 724 § 4, 1988)

12.04.220 Placement of utility facilities.

The placement or location of all utility facilities exempted from the provisions of this article pursuant to PMC 12.04.160 or 12.04.210 shall require approval by the Director of Planning. The Director shall not approve any location if the City Engineer determines that placement of a utility facility at the proposed location will unreasonably interfere with travel along a public right-of-way. (Ord. 724 § 4, 1988)