Monday, August 2, 2010


First posted in August 2009 and republished now as NOPA residents take a closer look at our streets and public spaces.

Is your NOPA street undergrounded?
Undergrounded, as in the utility lines on your street have been buried and the utility poles and overhead wires are gone. If you live on a street without the wires and poles, you tend to take the clear, unentangled views for granted after a bit -- until you walk a block and see what streets look like with them.
Utility undergrounding is a good-times venture. When the economy thrives, the city can afford to be expansive in its beautification measures. In May (of 2009) the Board of Supervisors considered adding undergrounding to a streets repair bond measure. But the prospects for the added expense were not good, and the idea was dropped. In a few weeks, so was the bond measure. Telephone surveys among likely voters put a damper on the prospects at the polls.
The cost to underground one mile in the city is approximately $6.7 million in 2009 dollars, according to the Department of Public Works. Of San Francisco's 1278 roadway miles, 470 have been undergrounded to date.
How does NOPA fare with undergrounding? We're doing well enough, especially compared to many other neighborhoods. Of NOPA's 71 blocks*, 27 are already undegrounded. That's 38% of the total.
Which NOPA streets are clear of the poles and wires? All the perimeters: Fell, Masonic, Turk, and Divisadero. And one more street: Golden Gate. Anyone know why and when Golden Gate received the special treatment? Perhaps when it served as a feeder for Central Freeway traffic.
District Five has the second highest number of curb miles undergrounded in the city: 59% of its 67 miles. District 3 is at the top with 70%, while Districts 11 sits at only 1% and District 10 at 12%. There's a whopping big need for some geographic equity when the economy improves.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Although undergrounding does beautify a block, it also means that in the event of an earthquake, live wires are not coming tumbling down around us. In addition to PG & E wiring, Comcast cable and the City's police telephone and fire alarm systems are on these poles. These systems are much more likely to work after a calamity if they are undergrounded.