Board gives go-ahead for revamp of ordinance regulating projects

RIVERSIDE – The Board of Supervisors authorized Riverside County’s Transportation & Land Management Agency to move ahead with toughening the regulatory requirements contained in an ordinance that sets parameters for public works projects, mainly involving utilities during its Jan. 24 meeting.

Ordinance No. 499, the county’s “Encroachment Permit Ordinance,” specifies how work on county rights of way must be performed. But according to TLMA spokeswoman Patty Romo, the ordinance has not kept up with the times and needs new clarifying provisions.

“This should benefit all sides,” Romo told the Board of Supervisors. “By initiating this ordinance, we can move forward to work with utility companies.”

Southern California Gas Co. Public Affairs Manager Lea Peterson expressed concern that the “impacts” of the proposed revisions, though still unwritten, could pose challenges that the utility would prefer to see mitigated.

“We need time to have all of our experts analyze this in full,” Peterson told the board.

After Romo assured the supervisors of TLMA’s intent to solicit feedback from utilities before a revised Ordinance No. 499 is submitted for public scrutiny, the board voted 3-0 – Chairman John Tavaglione is on medical leave – to allow the drafting process to go ahead.

According to TLMA documents, proposed revisions would include a provision stating the county’s right to establish the “precise location” of a utility’s facility so as to avoid safety and other conflicts; a provision stressing that utility services are not the responsibility of the county; a clarification that any costs incurred from the relocation of a water, gas, electric or telecommunication provider’s facilities must be borne by the entity and not the county; and a prohibition against construction of any utility installations at the site of major road improvements for three years to preserve the county’s investment.

The cost of drafting the revisions will come to about $5,000, according to the TLMA. The revised ordinance should be submitted for board consideration by the end of the current fiscal year.

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