1. The project would not affect any designated scenic street or highway (Los Gatos, 1997). No public scenic vistas from surrounding locations are present (ESA, 1997). Therefore, no impact to scenic vistas or scenic highways would occur.
  1. Pursuant to the CEQA, public views are eligible for protection and/or mitigation from project effects that could have a demonstrable negative aesthetic impact. The proposed substation structure and equipment would have an ultimate height of approximately 45-50 feet. New metal transmission line poles would replace older wooden poles (see Project Description). The new poles would be approximately ten feet higher than existing wooded poles, for a total anticipated height of approximately 100 feet (Masuoka, 1997). The PEA provides photo rendering of existing conditions and graphical simulations of the proposed substation improvements from public areas surrounding the project site (PG&E, 1997a). Views from Winchester Boulevard would not change appreciably because the substation would be constructed behind the existing fence and landscaping, which would be retained, and most of the facilities would be screened. The higher parts of the facilities would be visible. The most prominent change to a public view would occur to views from near the intersection of University and Lark Avenues (looking north onto the site). Due to less dense tree vegetation, substation equipment and transmission poles are more visible and prominent than at other locations. However, by replacing the wood pole transmission towers with tubular steel, the project would have a net beneficial visual impact to the project area as the tubular steel towers have a more finished appearance and would be visually more consistent with other tubular steel towers on the Metcalf - Monta Vista transmission line in the site vicinity. As requested by the city, distribution lines in front of the site would be undergrounded. The project site is currently surrounded by an approximately 8-foot block wall and wood board fence. Landscape plantings, including mature trees, are located along the site's western border (along Winchester Boulevard) which is the side with public views. Other trees are also located adjacent to the property line to the north, south, and east, from which there are views of the site from private properties.

    While screened from view by the public, the proposed substation would be highly visible from adjacent private properties. The proposed substation would be most visible to workers in the Boccardo Corporation building's north facing offices that look onto the site, particularly from the upper story. Some offices in the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District Administrative Office building also would have unobstructed foreground views of the facility. The facilities at the site would be noticeable in the middleground views from some residences west of Winchester Boulevard that down on the site. Views of the facility from the Charter Oaks Circle condominium development would largely be blocked by the noise wall and trees along the site perimeter; views from the upper story of the condominiums would be more direct. Perimeter fencing, the two story office building (to the south), and existing on and off-site trees would primarily block public views of the substation structure and equipment.

    While visible from adjacent private properties, the project would not have a significant impact on public views surrounding the project site. Although some parts of the proposed facilities would be visible from public streets, because of landscaping and the perimeter wall, the change in public views from surrounding locations would not drastically change from current conditions; the site has existing utility infrastructure located on site, including transmission lines and poles. In addition, the existing 8-foot high fencing would effectively block public views of most bulky substation equipment. While views of the site from some private properties would be altered, mitigation is not required under CEQA. Because existing perimeter landscaping trees and walls would be retained, additional mitigation is not required. Therefore, the project would have a less than significant impact related to negative aesthetic effects.
  1. The proposed substation's equipment would not have any large surface areas that would create a significant amount of glare. The steel structures in the transformer banks would create glare that could be visible under certain lighting conditions from adjacent private properties, as noted previously. The effects would not likely have a significant effect on use of the adjacent offices. The existing perimeter landscaping trees would reduce the effect. The substation would require security lighting which would be visible from adjacent streets and properties, including residences at Charter Oaks Condominiums. The lighting is not expected to have an adverse effect on the adjacent offices, but it may be a source of annoyance to some residents of the condominiums, particularly because the lighting would be most apparent from their upper story windows, which are typically bedroom windows. The existing vegetation would partly screen the lighting from those condominiums, but some lighting would be visible. As a result the project should incorporate the following mitigation measures:


The following mitigation measures would reduce this potential impact to a less-than-significant level:

Mitigation Measure XIII.c-1: All lighting on the site shall be angled downward and directed away from adjacent residences in the Charter Oaks Circle condominiums at all times.

Mitigation Measure XIII.c-2: To the extent possible, all lighting fixtures on the site should be positioned behind trees as viewed from adjacent residences in the Charter Oaks Circle condominiums or, if this is not possible, PG&E shall plant new evergreen (non-deciduous broad-leaf or needle-leaf) trees to screen site lighting from the residences.

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