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La Jolla utility undergrounding projects still in progress despite delays

Utility lines in La Jolla Shores are expected to come down as undergrounding projects are carried out.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

As San Diego Gas & Electric continues to work to place utility lines underground in La Jolla, some residents of The Shores are concerned about project delays and worry that the overhead lines may never come down.

Three undergrounding projects are underway in La Jolla, deemed “legacy” projects, as they were begun under San Diego’s previous franchise agreement with SDG&E.

A project called Block 1J Phase 1 includes La Jolla Shores west of La Jolla Shores Drive from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography south to Avenida de la Playa. The project, originally scheduled to be finished in the third quarter of 2023, will be pushed into the fourth quarter because SDG&E anticipates pole removal will not happen until communications companies remove their lines from the poles.

Block 1J Phase 2 includes the area east of La Jolla Shores Drive from Scripps Oceanography on south to Nautilus Street. That is nearly finished, with only pole removal remaining and scheduled for next month, according to SDG&E.

Andrew Perry, a Shores resident and business owner, told the La Jolla Light that an SDG&E manager told him “a large number of the electrical circuit breaker boxes in the older houses in La Jolla Shores do not meet current code requirements” for undergrounding.

Perry said he was told that “if homeowners do not replace the boxes, the houses will need to continue to be connected to the old overhead cables and SDG&E will not be able to remove the cables or the utility poles.”

Another La Jolla Shores resident said she was told by SDG&E repair workers that some lines will never be taken down.

A representative of SDG&E said Block 1J Phase 2 was done with 100 percent of customers upgrading their panel boxes or other equipment as needed.

SDG&E expects similar results with Block 1J Phase 1, the representative said, and the company anticipates all the lines will come down as planned.

Outside The Shores, Block 1M Job 1 — including West Muirlands Drive, Aranda Avenue, Michaeljohn Drive, Avenida Mirola and Avenida La Reina — was expected to be completed this year but now will be finished in the third quarter of 2023, SDG&E said. ◆