Since shortly after Palm Desert’s incorporation as a city in 1973, new development here has been required to underground utilities. The poles and wires that crisscross some of the community’s older neighborhoods illustrate that many homes, built prior to incorporation, continue to be served by above ground utility lines.
Residents in these areas have expressed concern about the safety, aesthetics, and negative impact on property values caused by above ground utility lines. In response to these concerns, the City in March 2015 formed an ad hoc Committee to study utility
undergrounding in Palm Desert.
Composed of eight citizen representatives and two City Council members and operating on the premise that underground utilities are preferable to unsightly above ground lines and poles, the Committee reached a consensus that the relocation of utility lines below ground should be a municipal priority.
The Committee determined that an early and important step in the process should be the preparation of an undergrounding master plan. In April 2016, the City Council approved the Committee’s recommendations, adopting the undergrounding of all utility lines in Palm Desert as a goal. The Council also authorized the hiring of a consultant to create an Undergrounding Master Plan.
The Master Plan lays out a number of ways that utility undergrounding can occur in Palm Desert. For neighborhoods, however, the most common way to accomplish utility undergrounding is for neighbors to form an assessment district.
Options for this multi-step, multi-year process are explained in the Master Plan as part of the Utility Undergrounding Step-by-Step Guide.