Have you ever wondered what could be done about the unattractive knot of cable, phone and electrical wires attached to the side of your house? What about the unsightly tangle stuck to the pole just beyond your living room window? If you’d prefer that your utility connections looked a little neater, you’ll be happy to know that the City and PG&E are in the process of “undergrounding” cables and power lines along 42 miles of San Francisco's streets. Even utility poles in these areas will be gone by the project’s completion in 2006.
The bad news is that homeowners will be asked to pick up a significant share of the cost. If the undergrounding project does reach your neighborhood, you will receive a letter from the Department of Public Works (DPW) outlining your legal obligations. Namely, you will be required to hire an electrician to install special underground conduits for electricity, phone and cable wires. According to the DPW, installation costs are approximately $2,000, “but can vary greatly depending on the individual property.” Your letter from the DPW will provide all the details including a list of qualified electricians.
Unfortunately, the costs do not end there. The undergrounding project also calls for new street light systems in some areas, since the utility poles that are now connected to many street lights will be removed. If the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) will not be providing the street lights for your area, you could be assessed “approximately" $3,500-$4,000 just for street light installation.