County pulling plug on Fallen Leaf cable
Charter Communications will not be providing cable television service to the Fallen Leaf Lake area any time soon, if ever, according to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.
The Board on Tuesday pulled the plug on the company’s attempt to bring its service to Fallen Leaf Lake, telling them, in effect, to come back when they have worked out all the bugs.
“We’ve been reviewing the situation, and it is staff’s recommendation that the request to extend Charter Communications’ franchise area be denied,” said County Counsel Lou Green. “There are still certain areas of non-compliance that must be addressed. Our recommendation is for (Charter) to come back in the spring after working things out with the county and with the neighbors in the area.”
The Board voted 4-0 to deny the cable company’s request to provide service. But they agreed that Charter could come back and apply again once the county’s concerns have been addressed.
The controversy began when Charter (which was then Cable Communications Company, a division of Rifkin Associates), strung a cable into the Fallen Leaf Lake area with the intention of bringing its service to the area.
Two big problems emerged, however. Cable Communications had not yet received approval from El Dorado County to bring cable service to Fallen Leaf. And the cable was strung on existing telephone poles along a two-mile stretch of Fallen Leaf Road along the lakefront – in many cases hanging directly in the line of sight of lakeside cabins.
The cable not only spoiled the view for many lakefront residents, but when the morning sun hit the thick silver strand, it was visible even from the opposite shore.
“The thing was a public nuisance when it was installed, and it’s an urban blight now,” said Alden Loomis, whose family has owned a cabin on Fallen Leaf Road since the 1920s. “How could this occur with no thought given to aesthetics?”
The community of Fallen Leaf Lake consists mainly of families who use their cabins as vacation homes. The area is home to fewer than 10 full-time residents, but there are 280 parcels on the tax rolls, including about 150 cabins along Fallen Leaf Road which face the big silver cable.
On Tuesday, several Fallen Leaf residents were again able to air their grievances to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.
“There are very few people in the community who are happy with the (cable) process,” said Jane Matthews, the elected president of the Fallen Leaf Communities District.
“Most of us were surprised with the news that this cable was going in. We had no say in it. I’m not saying that we are for or against cable TV, but the way it was done was wrong.”
The board agreed. Among the concerns that Charter must address before requesting a new hearing are: Refunding any deposits collected from potential customers; removing overhead cables, which were installed without approval from the county or the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency; outline plans and gain approval for lines to be run underground, or behind existing buildings; outline plans to provide winter repair access.
“So far, Charter has been unwilling to work with us to come up with a plan that we can present to the Board,” said Richard Lund, the president of the Fallen Leaf Lake Homeowners Association.
Mel Matthews, Charter Communication’s Director of Community Relations, said that many modifications have already been made.
“We have already budgeted $200,000 to install underground cable in the area, which is a significant amount for such a small project,” he said. “Also, (subscriber) refunds have already been made, and a performance bond has been posted. We would hope that our application will not be put off until the spring, because we have to clear this project with the TRPA, and that takes time.”
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