The City of Orange is proposing to establish and underground utility district along the above listed City streets, allowing for the removal and underground installation of utility poles, overhead wire, associated overhead structures, and supporting equipment within the undergrounding utility district boundaries. Undergrounding work will involve trenching within City Street right of way to a depth of approximately 3 to 5 feet for installation of underground electrical distribution lines. In addition, trenching will be involved for the installation of laterals connecting the distribution lines to Southern California Edison (SCE) meters on adjacent properties. Following undergrounding, the existing aboveground utility poles and lines will be removed. In addition, where street lights are located on existing utility poles (removed as part of the project), work includes installation of replacement ground-mounted street lights, consistent with the City's Master Plan of Street Lights. A small number of aboveground electrical equipment cabinets will also be installed (typically within existing sidewalks or parkways). Where ground disturbance occurs, the surface will be restored.
The project falls within Section 15302 of the State CEQA Guidelines which exempts conversion of overhead electric utility distribution system facilities to underground, including connections to existing overhead electric utility distribution lines, where the new structures will have the same purpose and capacity as the structures replaced and the surface will be restored to the condition existing prior to the undergrounding. The project is exempt because it involves undergrounding of existing overhead utilities within and area of the City that is already developed with City streets, sidewalks, underground utilities, and residential, commercial, and light industrial structures, The underground utilities will replace the existing overhead system (serving the same population and service area) and will therefore be substantially the same purpose and capacity as existing. The project is located within the City's Old Towne Orange historic district, which is recognized for its electric mix of buildings with architectural styles that are representative of the early 1900's to 1940's. However, the project would not affect building and proposes to restore the ground surface to its pre-project condition, Therefore, the project meets the exemption criteria and does not rigger and of the exceptions to exemptions listed in CEQA Guidelines Section 15300.0.