A Message about Underground Utilities in El Cerrito / from: Diane Brenner, DCNA Area Monitor

There has been a very large volume of positive responses to my December 11, 2019 NextDoor post on the subject of asking El Cerrito to participate in the CPUC Rule 20A program for undergrounding utilities in El Cerrito, with the priority being to start with the major evacuation routes from the eastern side of El Cerrito (Arlington, Cutting, Barrett).  We know these streets qualify for using the funds already accumulated by this program.  Not all streets do.

The next thing we need to do is make sure City Council knows the extent of this support.  Per an article in The Chronicle (Dec. 11, 2019), we know that cities have been “underutilizing” this program. As a result, PG&E has been diverting funds from this program to other uses.  Per the City Council meeting on July 16, 2019, we also know PG&E has asked El Cerrito for permission to divert our funds from the program.  El Cerrito has not agreed, but the City still has no plans to ask PG&E to underground any utilities using the $2.6 million in credits/funds that El Cerrito has accumulated in this program for this purpose.

 As you may have heard, the city of El Cerrito is facing some financial difficulties.  However, public safety must remain one of the top priorities for city government.  Undergrounding utilities along major evacuation routes, using credits/funding that already exists to pay for the work, will eliminate the possibility of significant roadblocks to evacuation, and thereby will enhance public safety in neighborhoods that face the dual threats of an earthquake on the Hayward Fault and wildfires coming from the east.

I’ve asked several people for their recommendations on how best to communicate our support to City Council.  The consensus is:  

A). Send email to the Mayor and City Council expressing your support for undergrounding utilities with Rule 20A credits.  Please send your emails before the next City Council next meeting on January 21, 2020 and please cc me at dpbrenner@comcast.net . See below.

B). Show up for the January 21 City Council meeting at 7 p.m.  We need not stay for the whole meeting; just be present for the public comment agenda item at the start of the meeting.  We also need a few people to make 3-minute statements of support for this project; and

C). Then we request a meeting between a small group of us and one or more members of City Council.

Send email to the Mayor and members of City Council. Please send your email soon, so they can review it before the next City Council meeting on January 21, 2020.  Their email addresses are listed below.  Use the subject line,  “Underground Utilities in El Cerrito with CPUC Rule 20A.”  You can send the same message to each council member, but it is important that they hear from you.  Clearly state why you think that undergrounding utilities along major evacuation routes from the eastern edge of town should be a priority and that the 16-year long neglect of this program/opportunity (CPUC Rule 20A) should end.  If you are one of the people who has previously raised this issue with city staff or city council and “got nowhere,” please mention that, too.

Please “cc” me on your emails:  dpbrenner@comcast.net so I know how many messages we are generating.

Mayor Greg Lyman    glyman@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Mayor ProTem Paul Fadelli    pfadelli@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Council Member Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto    rpardueokimoto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Council Member Janet Abelson    jabelson@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Council Member Gabriel Quinto    gquinto@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us

Show up at the City Council meeting January 21, 2020 and perhaps make a 3 minute statement in support.  We need everyone to show up for the beginning of this meeting, but we need only about 5 people to speak during the public comments agenda item at beginning of the meeting.  Once the public comments are over, we don’t need to stay.  For those who wish to speak, the limit is 3 minutes per speaker.  You sign up when you get there.  It is best to prepare your comments in advance. If you are interested in speaking, please let me know in advance so we can coordinate our remarks.  It’s best if we can arrange for each speaker to cover different points.  

Request a meeting.  Once the Mayor and City Council knows how much public support there is for this, we will request a meeting to discuss this issue further.

The only way to move this forward is to let the Mayor and City Council know the great extent of public support for it.  It’s up to all of us now.  Please send those emails and come to the January 21 City Council meeting.  Thanks.

Neighborly Recommendations

This is a new Category of posting. It consists of useful and random recommendations submitted for your consideration by your neighbors. Please feel free to contribute your own recommendations. (See the bottom of this post.)

• If you expect a planned power outage, such as a PSPS, before the power shutoff, adjust the temperature controls on your refrigerator and/or freezer to their coldest setting. Since it will take longer for the food items to defrost from their coldest, this will protect your food for the longest time during a power outage .

• It is useful to have a couple solar-powered landscape lights set up near your front door.

• Set up a cooler near your refrigerator where you can put those items you will most want to use, so that you don’t have to—more than necessary—open the doors to your refrigerator or freezer during a power outage. Refrain from opening the doors to your refrigerator during the warm daytime; instead plan on opening them only at the coolest part of the day or evening.

• Before any emergency, remove the lid to your toilet tank and mark the level of water with a Sharpie or Pentel marker. During an emergency, you can refill the toilet tank with water (even “grey water”). Each tankful is equivalent to a “flush”. Filling the tank rather than pouring water directly into the toilet bowl reduces the possibility of overflow. Save containers of water nearby for the purpose of refilling the tank as needed during an emergency.

• In your “go bag” don’t forget to keep some currency in small bills.

If you have suggestions to add to this list, please send them to Chet at grycz@well.com.
All suggestions gratefully accepted.

e-Mail “Subscriber” Information

In testing MailPoet for our DCNA use, and for your convenience, we have imported e-mails from the mailing list we generated on the basis of the Census Forms originally supplied by DCNA households. “Newsletters”, “Administrative Announcements”, and “Safety Alerts” will be sent to subscribers to our lists. You can always visit this site whether or not you participate in the mailing lists. But if you wish to receive any of the above category of communications, you need to be a “subscriber”. It is the proper custom of such mailing lists (even completely beneficial ones such as this one) to accord complete control to the participants of the list over their private information, including e-mails. You can choose to belong to the list, or not. You can update your e-mail addresses as changes require. You are “subscribers” in the parlance of MailPoet (and other similar professional e-mail list management programs) and you have control over your e-mail preferences.

Accordingly, there are a couple, now widely adopted, ways for you to enter a new subscription, to unsubscribe, or to manage your participation in the list. MailPoet provides some automatic scripts (automatic, save the fact they must be configured properly!) for this purpose. You will begin to see them implemented on this site as we continue testing our configuration. The first of these is to be found in the right-hand column of this site, where there is a box to add a new name and e-mail address to the subscriber list. (If you have received a recent newsletter, you are already entered and need not subscribe anew.)

Thank you for your ongoing patience! Chet