La Jolla Residents Fight Over SDG&E Pole Placement Near Homes

A power pole is at the center of a fight between some La Jolla homeowners and San Diego Gas and Electric. 

SDG&E said the more fire-safe metal pole was an emergency replacement for an old wooden one. But months later, the pole is still there, and neighbors fear their fire risk has actually increased because the pole sits very close to their homes and to some large eucalyptus trees. 

The pole was put up last fall, right behind Ayelet Gneezy’s home on La Pintura Drive. 

“During a routine patrol of power equipment in the La Jolla area, an old wooden power pole was found to be in an unsafe condition; it was leaning and unstable. This required emergency work to replace the pole and relocate it behind a residence in the canyon on La Pintura,” an SDG&E spokesperson said.  

SDG&E said they notified residents that emergency repair was needed. 

But Gneezy told NBC 7 that she and her neighbors were given no notice that the pole would be installed. 

In addition, Gneezy said SDG&E promised them the pole would only be there temporarily, while they evaluated the feasibility of relocating it to a safer and more appropriate location. 

Joe Lavelle lives next door to Gneezy. He shares his neighbor’s concern about the potential fire risk. 

“Should the winds come up, should the rain come and the trees topple or a portion of the tree or a portion of the tree or the branches come off it will literally pull down 12 high-powered electrical lines and expose all of the canyon owners and wildlife to fire risk,” Lavelle said. 

In its statement, SDG&E said “The new pole is located within SDG&E's easement -- away from a creek bed -- where it would be less likely to erode in the future." 

Lavelle and Gneezy said they offered alternative locations to SDG&E within their own property lines.

Lavelle said he was told if they wanted to move it, they’d have to do it themselves. 

Lavelle said he has hand-delivered letters to both SDG&E and parent company Sempra, and will continue to fight. 

“How can I let this go when my kids are sleeping 30 feet away from 12 electrical lines that can come down at any moment during a storm or a wind? How can I let that go," Lavelle said.

After the original story aired, an SDG&E spokesperson wanted to clarify that under state rules, relocations of poles at the request of customers need to be paid by customers. 

Also, if the one pole is moved, other poles up and down the line would also need to be replaced because taking one connection out of alignment would add strain to existing poles, the spokesperson said. 

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