A focus of my work as a civic leader and now as your Council Member has been the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Typically, this means keeping our streets safe, enforcing zoning regulations, and ensuring we have beautiful parks that everyone can enjoy.

Unfortunately, we have a growing problem of double utility poles taking up space and becoming an eyesore in our neighborhoods. As time and weather wear down these poles, continual maintenance is required. Eventually, maintaining the pole is no longer feasible, and a new pole is installed. While you would think all the equipment on one pole is easily transferred to the new pole, you would be mistaken. It can take weeks and even months to move equipment from one pole to another. The result is two poles side by side. Part of the problem is that multiple companies use the same pole for their equipment. Cable and internet providers do not coordinate with each other on any timeline to ensure a speedy transfer of equipment.

In addition to being unattractive, double poles can pose a safety hazard if improperly maintained. They interfere with other utility lines, especially if the old pole is leaning or coming apart. Double poles also show no accountability in our city’s contractors and agencies. According to Con Edison, there are over 40 “double poles” currently in the 30th Council District.

The question of who is responsible for pole management gets complicated very quickly. I have met with Con Edison as well as cable and internet service providers to discuss this issue. Sometimes, even identifying who “owns” the pole at a given time can be difficult. During bad storms with downed lines, my office has had trouble getting an agency to admit they were responsible for making repairs. To fix this problem, in the last City Council session, I introduced Intro 0159, which I intend to re-introduce this year. This bill would require an office or agency designated by the Mayor to study ways to increase transparency regarding the ownership of utility poles and to improve maintenance of these poles. This bill would require a report to be delivered to the Council within six months that would include a list of the locations of all utility poles in the city and the owners of such poles, as well as ways to identify and improve maintenance of poorly maintained utility poles.

Unfortunately, we have a growing problem of double utility poles taking up space and becoming an eyesore in our neighborhoods.

Additionally, legislation is being drafted that would require companies to move all equipment to a new utility pole within two weeks or face hefty fines. This would cut down on the number of double poles and ensure companies move their equipment timely. Double poles are a blemish that makes the urban landscape look cluttered. Living in the city should not mean we live in a disorganized mess. Our beautiful neighborhoods need constant vigilance if we are going to maintain a high quality of life.

As always, please call my office if you have any concerns or ideas on how we can work together to improve the quality of life in our community.