Phase 2 Assessment District Process

Community Meeting Notes 

Prepared by Robbie Neely


Date:  2/21/2018 from 8 to 9:30                  Place:  Montclair Presbyterian Church


Linda Swartz, Sr. Project Manager - Electric Distribution Construction Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Allen Law, P.E.,  Electrical Services Manager, Department of Transportation

Wladimir Wlassowsky, P.E., Interim Assistant Director, Oakland Department of Transportation

Dennis Klingelhofer, Vice Presiden, Harris & Associates


Robbie Neely & Ron Wacker, PPNA Utility Undergrounding co-chairs;

Daryel R. Dunston, Senior Policy Advisor , District 4 Constituent Liaison, Office of the Vice Mayor

Attendees:  40+ Phase 2 property owners

Groundrules: This is an information exchange, intended to provide owners the information they need to make an informed choice on forming a Utility Undergrounding Assessment District. The forum for advocacy is the Public Hearing in May.

Agenda:  Project schedule; Legislative process; Assessment computation methodology

Project Schedule

  • Following show of interest poll results at 70%, City staff crafted legislation to move establishment of an Assessment District--first through the Finance and Management Committee, where it passed on a 4 - 0 vote,  then it will go to full City Council, to be scheduled 3/6 or 3/15, to approve balloting procedures.
  • Ultimately, the CPUC will need to authorize use of Rule 20-A funds. It's unclear whether CPUC approval will be sought before or after balloting property owners and City Council resolution establishing the Assessment District. [PPNA supports going to CPUC after council resolution)
    • CPUC may question inclusion of non-arterial (defined by Governor's plan) streets
    • Once application is made, timeframe for CPUC decision is very uncertain


  • Once ballots are mailed, a 45-day minimum voting period begins. Ballots include
    • date for the public hearing
    • exact amount of the assessment for each parcel
    • return envelope addressed to the City Clerk (who locks up the unopened ballots upon receipt)
    • option to vote support for, or opposition to, the assessment district
  • The public hearing will precede the regular Council meeting and the tabulation of ballots.
  • There is a provision to file a replacement ballot should owner lose or want to change vote
  • Ballots will be accepted up until the close of the Public Hearing.
  • Council will conclude the Public Hearing and resume its regular meeting while ballots are being tabulated
  • Ballots are weighted by assessment amount. Since 212 parcels out of 225 parcels have the same assessment amount [Think of it as $1 = 1 vote].
  • Akin to a general election, results include only returned ballots, not the total ballots sent.
  • Unless there is a majority protest  (the “NO” dollar total exceeds the “YES” dollar total), council can accept the vote and pass the Assessment District resolution or, if there was a substantial reason raised during the Public Hearing, could postpone the vote to a future meeting.  The Council cannot overrule a majority protest.

Cash collection process & bond sales

  • Prior to the sale of bonds (estimated at 3 to 6 months after formation of the assessment district), property owners will receive a cash collection letter, offering options:
    • Pre-pay entire amount by a certain date (minimum is 30 days before bonds are issued) and receive a reduction (estimated at 15%) by eliminating fees associated with "borrowing" the funds
    • Borrow the funds by combining the entire assessment onto the property tax bill and paying off over the life of the bonds (estimated at 20 to 25 years)
    • Some combination of pre-pay and financing (example: pre-pay 20%, finance 80%). Fees will be adjusted accordingly
  • If the assessment is financed, it's recorded as a lien on the property. If the property is sold before payoff concludes, the lien is transferred to the new owner unless its discharged as part of the sale.
  • The assessment cannot be changed to a higher amount. If built-in financial contingencies are not needed, City Council could vote to reduce the term of the bond or create a rebate to property owners
  • The City won't know the rate until the bond sale goes to market, but it's a lower rate for property owners than most other financing sources would be since it's a tax-exempt bond.

Construction & maintenance

  • After construction, utilities & city each responsible for repairing and maintaining equipment
  • PG&E will communicate with property owners about the best way route for lateral trench (from street to utility panel). No easement needed.
  • City is looking to automate the billing and collection of the $400 permit and inspection fee each property owner pays
  • Each utility pays its share to occupy the joint trench
  • Last utility to remove overhead lines removes the poles
  • In some ways, an underground system is more difficult to repair and maintain, and in other ways easier and more efficient. There are additional switches installed underground that allow trouble to be sectionalized and bypassed so the whole line doesn't go down as with an overhead system.
  • Rattling vault lid problem in Phase 1 will be minimized by designing vault lids away from the wheel lines. Normally, vaults are in sidewalks, but that's not an option in Piedmont Pines.
  • City is still looking at expanded repaving when project is complete.  May seek funding augmentation through council. Makes sense to prioritize Chelton with all the work going on.
  • Construction process begins after all legislative and regulatory approvals.  Expected to be a three year process. Phases, with PG&E at lead for utility work:  Design, costing of all subsurface work and equipment, construction, service cutover and pole removal.