BEND, OR -- A local group says Pacific Power is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act with the placement of a power transmission box. Brian Douglass is the Chief Advocate for Bend-based Advocates for Disabled Americans, Inc. He discovered the box during the group’s effort to clear sidewalks and curb ramps of winter gravel and landscaping. "There was this huge pine tree that was covering the sidewalk. So, I came over about a week ago and I started to trim this tree; and I got in to about two limbs off of it or three limbs off of it, and I suddenly looked and here was this Pacific Power and Light transmission box sitting on a concrete pad, right in the middle of the sidewalk."
He wants to know how it got there and immediately started questioning officials. Douglass tells KBND News, “The initial effort went to the City Manager to ask for the paperwork that was provided for installation of this and when was it installed? And then, to Pacific Power to ask them, ‘it’s your box, right?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Ok, well then, why is it where it is’?” He's hoping the utility will act quickly, "I’m hoping that they’ll do the right thing, which I believe – unless they can show me some other reason – is that they’re going to come out and take this box out and move it back to where it belongs and clear this sidewalk. I mean, I know it’s not going to be a lot of fun for them; they can’t have this, in my opinion. This is an obstruction." Douglass is asking Pacific Power to move the box back a few feet off the sidewalk, so it’s with other utility boxes, nearby.
Following KBND News' inquiries into the matter on Monday, Pacific Power sent a regional manager to the site. In an e-mailed statement, PacifiCorp's Tom Gauntt said they are looking into "the history of how the unit came to be where it is and what remedies are possible."
TUESDAY EVENING UPDATE: After KBND's original story aired, Bend city officials checked permitting paperwork to determine how the transmission box ended up in that location and discovered the sidewalk was built after the box was installed. Josh Romero, with the city of Bend, tells KBND News, the subdivision received permits in 2001 but sat dormant for a number of years due to the recession. "There appears to be a change on-site that strayed from the plans and there is no paper trail as to why that changed." Romero adds, "The inspector who was assigned the project has since retired, so unfortunately I cannot provide a reason for why this happened, but can tell you it was permitted correctly." He says the current practice of requiring plan modifications to be filed before work is completed has been in place since 2011. "It appears as though this incident took place before we changed our policies." Romero says he was told by Pacific Power the utility is planning to move the box to "ensure an accessible path."