Frequently Asked Questions
We need Measure P to reduce the risk of wildfires and prevent fires sparked by dangerous overhead utilities. More than 90% of Laguna Beach is designated a "very high fire severity zone" by the State. That danger is amplified by the fact that the main arteries in and out of our city are lined by dangerous overhead electric power lines that could prevent emergency evacuation for residents and access for emergency responders.
How would Measure P protect laguna residents?
Measure P would generate the critically-needed funding to underground dangerous electric utility wires along our city's key evacuation routes and to fund other key fire safety measures.
Passage of Measure P will:
Ensure Laguna Canyon Rd, Coast Highway, and other vital routes from our hillsides and schools are accessible in the event of a natural disaster.
Eliminate the risk of falling wires or above ground transformers causing a fire.
Ensure emergency access routes remain clear for medical aid, police and firefighter access.
Reduce the number of vehicle accidents involving utility poles.
Enhance utility service reliability for residents.
For additional information about the City's studies and plans for this work, visit the Undergrounding section of the City's website
How do We know overhead powerlines cause fires?
CALFIRE reports that utility power lines and equipment failure are to blame for 16 of the catastrophic Northern California wildfires last year, killing 18 people and destroying entire neighborhoods. To read the reports visit: http://calfire.ca.gov/communications/communications_newsreleases
have utility poles caused fires in the past in Laguna?
Yes. In the last 10 years, at least 6 fires in Laguna Beach have been caused by power lines and utility equipment.
Have utility poles been a factor in car accidents?
Yes, there have been 58 vehicle collisions with utility poles since 2007 with multiple closures of Laguna Canyon Road.
Does Laguna have a history of wildfires?
Yes. Laguna Beach has a history of catastrophic fires that spread quickly. In 1993, a fire damaged or destroyed 440 of our homes and caused $838,000,000 in damages, and negatively impacted our local businesses due to lack of tourism. With extreme weather patterns becoming the new normal, fire experts say we can expect more wildfires in the future.
How much will Measure P Raise?
Measure P would generate approximately $5.6 million a year through a one-cent increase to the city's sales tax rate.
will visitors pay their fair share under Measure P?
Yes, in fact, approximately 2/3rds of sales tax revenues in Laguna Beach are paid by the 6 million annual visitors who enjoy our city and take advantage of our public services.
Can't utility companies pay for this work?
Utility companies have completely abdicated their responsibility to move dangerous powerlines underground. They have flat out refused to help, and instead have sent letters to residents notifying they that their solution is to:
Shut off power in high risk areas during extreme weather like high winds.
Inspect and aggressively prune and cut vegetation with 200 feet of its electrical facilities
“Harden the system” by insulating wires and other features at ratepayers expense
from an August letter from SCE to Laguna Beach customers entitled “Protecting Against the Threat of Wildfires,” and a SCE Sept. 10, 2018 news release on Grid Safety
how does laguna's current sales tax compare to other Orange County/Southern CA cities?
While several Orange County cities have the sames sales tax rate of 7.75% as ours, Laguna has one of the lowest rates compared to other high tourist Southern California cities like Long Beach and Santa Monica (10.25%) and Manhattan Beach and Malibu (9.5%) that also contend with large influxes of daytime and holiday visitors. In addition, the OC cities of Fountain Valley and Westminster have sales tax rates of 8.75%
Some residents have alternative routes they can access in an emergency. Why should they support measure P
Regardless of where residents homes are located, family members may be at school, or in another area of the city. We all have an interest in ensuring safe evacuation routes out and access for emergency responders to get into Laguna.
can existing city general funds cover the cost?
Not entirely. The City has budgeted as much as it can (without cutting public safety or other essential City services) to partially fund this work, but there is not enough. Passage of Measure P is the only way to fully fund the work necessary.
How many votes do we need to win?
In order to pass, Measure P must be supported by 66.7% of those who vote.