Cox in Your Mailbox

By Montecito Journal   |   May 31, 2022

As longtime residents of Montecito, we are writing to share our experience and warn the community to watch out for Cox Communications. Sneaky, inept, and arrogant is an understatement. To date, their egregious mishandling of the proposed installation of a state-mandated gas generator on our property has cost us over $20,000 in both legal and engineering fees.

This began in January when we received a letter from San Diego, looking like junk mail, which was generically addressed to “Neighbor.” It informed us that Cox would be working “in your neighborhood” installing the mandated backup generators for access to 911 during emergency power outages. What they neglected to mention in the letter was that the generator would involve a 21-foot trench, much of which – it turned out – would be on our property. It was going to be located next to our front gate entrance, where men were soon staking red flags, spray painting the street and shoulder, and trampling our planting. Our landscaping, which protects us from the road, was tagged to be torn out, and a seven-foot cement pad poured in preparation for the large, noisy, and noxious generator. 

The local Cox person we were referred to was unhelpful and said she could not give us the name of their lawyer, forcing us to immediately hire our own attorney. He contacted Cox’s legal representative in Atlanta asking that work be stopped until the location could be verified as not being on private property. He also asked to see the permit. Meanwhile, Cox stonewalled and prepared to go full speed ahead. 

At the 11th hour, work was suspended while they conducted a new survey. It was determined that, yes, the generator would be completely on private property. Cox had received the permit to install a generator by giving the county bad information. Cox had just presumed the property line was our fence, and that the entire swath in front of our home was in the Right-of-Way – there for the taking. This was not the case. The accurate Right-of-Way was not 73 feet as Cox had put on the plans provided to the county, but only 40 feet. The plans also did not indicate our trees – old Monterey pines and oaks. In addition, there was no specific contact by Cox prior to obtaining the permit, as required. 

Cox finally agreed to meet onsite so we could show them the actual property line. They were sending a “market leader.” Our incredible Sharon Byrne, Executive Director of the Montecito Association, volunteered her time to show up at our house. Just as she arrived, we received word that Cox had cancelled the meeting. To date, Cox has gone silent, and the matter remains unresolved. 

We understand the PUC has mandated that telecommunications providers like Cox must provide 72 hours of backup power to equipment located within high fire risk areas. But what has resulted is corporate bullying. Cox had no idea where our property line was and didn’t care. Instead of working with the community and cooperating, they dared us to challenge them. It’s outrageous that we were forced to engage an attorney to protect our property rights, property value, and privacy. And to hire an engineering firm to prove Cox was incompetent. We could have told them that for free. So, beware of a letter marked “Neighbor” if it lands in your mailbox. Cox Communications could be coming for you. 

Chris and Dori Carter

Chris and Dori Carter are two longtime residents of Montecito


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