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Hemlock Street Downtown
Poles and wires gone from west side of Hemlock.

Contributors to Project Underground

Chronological Listing
All addresses are Cannon Beach, OR 97110 unless otherwise noted
Tom & Suzy Morris
Morris' Fireside Restaurant
207 N. Hemlock
George & Paula Vetter
Cannon-Beach Net
231 N. Hemlock #101
Erwin & Lorna Boring
Concerned Citizens
Gene Cope/The Landing
Downtown Property Owner
Carmen & Terry Swigart
Sea Ranch RV Park
415 Alternate Highway 101 N
Paul & Margo Dueber
Maggie and Henry
172 N. Hemlock

Whitney & Randy Anderson
Anderson Painting
Jeff Etchison
Duane Johnson Real Estate
296 N. Spruce
Tom & Cat Mauldin
The Gazette
Bryan & Lana Jean Carter
Eagle Point Designs
Kaysville, Utah
Duane Johnson
Duane Johnson Real Estate
296 N. Spruce
Carol Hutchins
Hutchins House
195 W. First
Lynn & Jan Murray
Shorelines, N.W.
123 S Hemlock
Villeneuve Family
Cannon Beach VillaView
Hemlock at Haystack Rock
425-836-8445   888-836-8445
Ned & Norma Roache
Mariner Market & Birkenstock Plus
139 N Hemlock
503-436-2442 and 436-9336
Bill Allred
Hallmark Resort
1400 S. Hemlock
503-436-1566   888-448-4449
Martin & Mimi Siegel
Concerned Citizens
Hal J. Denison, Photographer
Cannon Beach Supporter
On a ship at sea
Jeff & Lou Wallack
Pacific Seaduction
Dale & Marilyn Warman
Concerned Cititens
Cannon Beach
Martin Hospitality
Surfsand, Wayfarer, Stephanie
Haystack Resort, Haystack Gardens

Jerry & Bunny Sadis
Concerned Cititens
Cannon Beach
Mark & Margaret Morgans
Planning Forester - Weyerhaeuser
Community-minded Volunteers
Jay Raskin Architect, AIA
1287 S Hemlock, Box 1160
Don Faith
A Master Image
Ruth & Walt Buhler
Summer Locals
Community-minded Individuals
Lisa Evans
Playful Spirit
Ronald Neilson Family, LLC
Vacation Rental Home
Dale and Pam Wideman
Wideman Retail - Rare Discovery
Kim Barnett
Bronze Coast Gallery
224 N. Hemlock, #2
John Backes and Robin Roberts
Sedond Home Owners
Ron and Carol Salzman
Commercial Property Owners
  Put Your Name Here
e-mail your commitment


Wednesday 07Apr2004
There is one thing that everyone in this town seems to be in agreement on - that being how nice it would be to rid our sidewalks, streets and views of utility poles and wires. Recently, local resident, Erwin Boring took it upon himself to carry a petition around gathering pages of signatures supporting this idea in hopes of getting the ball rolling on this often talked about topic. What Erwin and everyone else who has looked into undergrounding learned, is that it is expensive and complicated. It takes a joint effort between property owners, utility companies and the city. Tearing up and putting streets back together is often prohibitively expensive. Last night at City Hall, the Council met in regular session. Item #17 on the agenda was a proposal “CONSIDERATION OF A PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERSHIP TO UNDERGROUND UTILITIES IN THE DOWNTOWN CORE”. Mike Clark’s Coaster Properties (now developing the old Osburn site), being advised by local electrician, Garry Smith, saw an opportunity to remove six telephone poles on the west side of Hemlock from the Bookstore to Bruce’s Candy Kitchen. Because Hemlock Street is already torn up, but scheduled for new pavement this spring, the window of opportunity is very narrow. The cost, as estimated in Mike Clark’s proposal, would be $45,000, of which Clark proposes to pay $15,000. This $45,000 is considerably below estimates that have been thrown around previously, mainly due to the current state of Hemlock Street and the fact that these poles do not carry electric power. Electric power is on the east side of Hemlock. I argued for this proposal sighting the benefit to the entire community and an opportunity for the city to lead the way in facilitating undergrounding. Public Works Director Joy Gannon pointed out the benefit of having those poles gone from our sometimes-too-narrow sidewalks. In discussing the proposal, a councilor suggested that the city share a third of the total cost leaving $15,000 for businesses and concerned citizens. I said that I would be happy to add my financial support and when I asked Tom Morris of Morris’s Fireside, who was in the audience, he said he would also contribute. I offered to solicit funds from others. Because action needed to be taken right away, before paving operations begin, a decision could not wait so the Council agreed to approve the partnership as an experiment and I agreed to solicit community financial support. Between Tom Morris and I, we are putting up $1500. We ask that all businesses and concerned citizens show their support by making their contribution to Project Underground, City of Cannon Beach, Box 368, Cannon Beach, OR 97110. Names of contributors are/will be posted at www.cannon-beach.net/project/underground (this page). Also Tom and Cat Mauldin of the Gazette are giving us a very favorable rate to list contributors in the paper. Please e-mail me with the date, amount of your contribution and how you want to be listed so your name is not missed. .. George Vetter

Cannon Beach City Council
Agenda Date: February 8th 2005 7pm
Prepared by: Joy Gannon, Public Works Director

While there are many benefits to undergrounding utilities, the primary reason to bury overhead wires is aesthetic. A common misconception is that undergrounded wires help prevent outages caused by windstorms or vehicular collisions. This is only marginally true in this area because the undergrounded wires must be viewed as part of a larger, vulnerable aboveground system reaching Cannon Beach. Undergrounding is consistent with the City's commitment to being a visually attractive for residents and visitors and Council has considered undergrounding of utilities an issue for at least twenty years.

Funding and community support are the main challenges with undergrounding of utilities. Staff has highlighted concerns and methods of financing below.

Community Support:
Staff has heard strong sentiments both in favor and opposed to undergrounding of utilities. Last year, the City Council authorized an experiment in undergrounding and challenged the community to raise $15,000 to support an undergrounding project downtown. While there were approximately 32 donors to the project, only 56% of the necessary funds were raised. Staff is unable to gauge community support for utility undergrounding in association with the willingness to pay and at what level. Prior to pursuing any engineering study for undergrounding projects, Staff would recommend funding a study to conduct statistically valid city-wide survey to gauge community support for utility undergrounding. At a minimum the survey should include the following information: identification of specific geographic areas of the City and their level of support for undergrounding; general acceptance of utility undergrounding; level of support for city-wide undergrounding; determination of willingness to pay and at what level, and identification of concerns or areas of opposition to city-wide undergrounding.

    Financing Methods:
  • Voluntary "check-off" contributions from utility bills. A voluntary approach is commendable, but questionable whether a check-off would raise amounts needed. City Council would need to establish the priority of undergrounding projects and approve the check-off method. At this time, the City has not pursued this option.

  • City mandate requiring that costs be paid either by ratepayers in the whole city or by those in the affected area. Concerns about fairness, equity and cost/benefits would likely prompt ratepayer resistance. At this time, the City has not pursued this option.

  • State rate adjustments approved by the State Public Utility Commission. The Public Utility Commission, PUC, is set on keeping rates low and concerned about equity in fund distribution, would likely disapprove. At this time, the City has not pursued this option.

  • Statewide legislature-approved surcharge. Although used in California, the Oregon Legislature is likely to resist such a tax increase. At this time, the City has not pursued this option.

  • Voter approved bonds. The source of funds would have to compete with other bond measures for voter approval. At this time, the City has not pursued this option.

  • Self-imposed tariff approved by City voters, subject to City Council and PUC approval. Likely voter resistance due to perceived lack of benefit. At this time, the City has not pursued this option.

  • Reserve a portion of utility franchise fees for undergrounding. The franchise fees are currently incorporated into operation of the City and other public projects. At this this time, the City has not pursued this option.

  • Promote undergrounding options with other major infrastructure improvements with the City. Undergrounding costs can be reduced if work is done in conjunction with other improvements such roadwork. The City explores this option with many of our major improvements and has encouraged other utilities to explore undergrounding at the time of their major improvements. Generally, the costs of incorporating undergrounding of utilities has been cost prohibitive for the City. The City has regularly installed conduit at the time of major improvement just in case a future undergrounding project is pursued.

  • Include undergrounding provisions in future utility franchise agreements. The City entered into a 20-year franchise agreement with PP&L in 1995 and there are no undergrounding provisions in the franchise agreement. The City Council could consider undergrounding provisions in franchise negotiations at the time of renewal in 2015.

  • Local Improvement Districts. The City Code provides the mechanism for developing local improvement districts. In order to form a voluntary local improvement district (LID) , two thirds of the property that will benefit by improvements request an LID by written petition which contains signed agreements by at least two-thirds of the property owners affected based upon the percentage of front feet on the street. An LID is self-funding and permits improvements to be financed and paid for over a period of time through assessment on the benefiting properties. At this time, the City has never received a petition to form a local improvement district to underground utilities.

  • Neighborhood Organization. Neighbors agree amongst themselves to embark on an undergrounding project. To my knowledge this has been successful in several areas of the City. Of particular note, the PP&L work on South Hemlock south of Warren Way that is currently underway will make undergrounding projects west of Hemlock Street in this area much more affordable.

  • Long-term phase in of undergrounding of utilities. In 1989, the City Council adopted ordinance 89-4 that included the requirement for plans for undergrounding of utilities in all new residential, commercial development, and major renovations. While the pace of undergrounding is slow, undergrounding of utilities or plans for undergrounding of utilities is occurring development by development. Eventually, the City will likely be successful in undergrounding of its utilities in this manner in most neighborhoods.

Budget Impacts: None.

End Staff Report


George Vetter Letter

Twenty-eight years ago I came to Cannon Beach. I was immediately struck by the simple beauty of the area. In 1977 the town was a bit run down having just come out of the poor economic times of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Many shops were “closed for the season” soon after Labor Day. Each year since then I have seen the town steadily clean-up, fix-up, improve and rebuild – kind of like an endless staircase, with each year taking another step. A Design Review Board was established to review the aesthetics of commercial construction. The town in general took pride in extending the simple beauty of the area to its man made improvements.

Early in my years here and since, there has been talk of burying utility poles and wires but it is expensive and therefore has been put off for another day/year/decade. Had an ongoing program begun in 1977, we would be seeing very few poles and wires by now. We took a big step this past spring in removing 6 poles and their accompanying wires (see photo at top of page) from the west side of Hemlock, Downtown. The improvement to our Downtown is not only aesthetic, but also functional. Pedestrians have more room for casual strolling, cars can open their doors and pull in an out of parking spaces without leaving scars, winds can blow and find no wires to relocate and utility workers can spend more time improving rather than maintaining service.

Not that there aren’t those who want to see Cannon Beach stay the same or even go back to the 70’s, but I think it safe to say that a large majority of citizens recognize the inevitability of progress and growth that is driven by forces from Portland, Seattle and beyond. We can’t control who comes to town, how much they pay for property and what they expect. But we can have influence. We can demonstrate the pride we have in our community and attract those who do the same. We are doing this in many areas already – demonstrated by our Haystack Rock Awareness Program, Shuttle, Sign Ordinance, Tree Ordinance, Design Review Board, Children’s Center, preservation of Ecola Creek, landscaping, etc. It’s time “Project Underground” became an ongoing city program.

Poles and wires are blocking our views and standing in our way throughout town. We all benefit from undergrounding. It’s not something which we can expect to be undertaken by individuals or neighborhoods. This is a role for government.

The big stumbling block here is money. It’s much more expensive now than it was 28 years ago and will surely be much more expensive 28 years from now. I have several suggestions of where the money could come from. None of these suggestions would need to stand alone, but could be used in combination.

1. A bond. Either General Obligation or Revenue as a means to spread some costs over the entire tax base. The percentage could be minuscule and still have far reaching effects over the years.
2. A small increase in the Transient Room Tax. I think we could only use 30% of the increase for this purpose because of the new state law, but the remaining 70% could be spent on tourist related investments, as defined by the law, benefiting our economy, especially our off-season, which is in extreme need of help. Our workforce suffers for lack of work in the off-season.
3. Donations. In the recent Hemlock Street project, over $8500 was donated by businesses and individuals. To further encourage and motivate donations, a city stipulation could be that for every dollar of public money spent, a certain amount of private money would be required. The amounts would not have to be matching, but could be something along the line of $2 of public funds for $1 of private.
4. Grants. This is an area that I know little of, but one which could be investigated.
5. Franchise Fees or requirements in our Franchise Agreement. I understand that our current agreement is up for renewal in 2015. That is a ways off, but in the meantime we can communicate our desires and intentions in hopes of encouraging undergrounding during the next 10 years as cost-saving opportunities arise.

The staff report (see above) of Public Works Director, Joy Gannon, details other “Financing Methods” which should also be used.

End George Vetter letter

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Put Our Utility Poles and Lines Where They Belong - UNDERGROUND


  1. SAFETY-eliminate life threatening downed lines, hazardous pole locations, etc
  2. SERVICE-eliminate storm-caused and traffic-caused power outages.
  3. SCENERY-remove the ugly blight on some of the world's greatest scenery.
  4. STANDSTILLS-eliminate traffic interruptions from overhead line work.
  5. SAVINGS-fixing the problem will never cost less than now.

Add your e-mail/address to the Project Update List.

For Information contact:
Erwin Boring
P.O. Box 545
Cannon Beach
OR 97110
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