Close Panel

Utility Underground District

Image: Cliff Drive Near Salida del Sol
Looking Easterly at Poles to be Underground

Property owners interested in forming an utility underground assessment district can request the City of Santa Barbara to administer the formation process. There are three ways property owners can underground the existing overhead utilities:

1.  Rule 20A - Projects that fall under Rule 20A are paid for by all utility ratepayers, not just those who live in the area to be undergrounded. To qualify for full funding, projects must provide a benefit to the general public, not just the affected customers in the area by satisfying one or more of the below criteria:

    • unusually heavy concentration of overhead facilities
    • heavily traveled area
    • qualifies as an arterial or major collector road. See City of Santa Barbara Street Classifications map here.
    • within or passing through a civic, recreational, or scenic area

The City’s Rule 20A work credit balance approximately $2.5 million as of May 2019.  In the next few years, staff will be recommending to the Planning Commission a list of proposed projects/location of arterial roads within the City proposed for undergrounding.  If you’d like to be contacted once this process commences, subscribe above.   

Note this program is currently being phased out by the CA Public Utilities Commission.  Check back in 2022 for more information.

2.  Rule 20B- Projects that fall under Rule 20B allow property owners to elect to form an underground utility assessment district when Rule 20A does not apply. See Underground Utility Assessment District (UUAD) Informational Binder below for additional information on forming a district.

3.  Rule 20C - Projects that fall under Rule 20C enables property owners to privately fund undergrounding the overhead facilities if neither of the above apply.

Need more guidance? Check out our Underground Utility Assessment District Informational Binder located here.

General inquiries may be directed to Adam Hendel, Principal Engineer at or (805) 897-1921.  

City staff will be recommending Cliff Drive from Salida del Sol to San Rafael Avenue as the City's next utility underground district. Please click here for more information. The item is tentatively on the City Council's agenda for December 14, 2021, to confirm to selection.

Stay Informed

Newsletter Logo

What’s happening with this project? Subscribe here to receive our newsletter.

What's Happening?

Utility Underground Program Restarted

July 31, 2019 

The City is restarting its Utility Underground program based upon some recent public interest and current balance of the City’s Rule 20A work credit. Previously the program has been very successful with Rule 20A projects including Cliff Drive. There are some challenges with Rule 20B assessment district projects. However, with the right project, neighborhood interest, and work by City staff and utility companies those projects are also worth pursuing. Please click on the Informational Binder for more information or email

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2021
Top of Page