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Local News

City needs your voice on streetlight tests

By From page A1 | August 17, 2014

It’s time to shine a light on your opinion.

Following recent criticism and, according to the city, some love for the city’s new, brighter LED streetlights, the city is looking to get community feedback on different streetlight configurations.

Last week, the city installed five test lights on Oyster Bay Drive in west Davis set near each other to allow Davisites to more easily figure out what’s best. Each light pole is labeled with a different number that matches up with an online survey  that the city is using to collect opinions, a city press release said. Four others were stationed in  a greenbelt between Elk Place and Impala Place in north Davis, just east of the cul-de-sacs.

The experiment started last Wednesday and will run until Aug. 24, but residents are welcome to send their concerns and questions to the city any time. However, opinions not received during the experiment timeline will not be part of the information used by the City Council to make a final decision.

This year the city installed LED streetlights in much of the city, aiming to save $200,000 annually in energy costs to PG&E. The total $1.172 million cost will be paid for over a six-year period with the savings the city will reap, after that the city enjoys the savings debt-free. The old high-pressure sodium lights don’t last as long and consume more energy than the LED streetlights, but residents had gotten used to their glow.

With half of the city’s 1,300 streetlights replaced so far before the City Council ordered a pause in the project in May, some residents complained the new streetlights shined in their bedroom windows at night, keeping them up or were just plain irritating. Others felt they would make residents less safe at night because the brightness would not let their eyes adjust to the darkness and criminals would more easily hide in the shadows. Still others worried about bicyclists’ safety in the glare and animals not used to such bright light.

Since then, the city has been experimenting with different ways to reduce the glare of the new streetlights in residential neighborhoods, some configurations using light shields and others using dimmed lights.

The city is partnering with the UC Davis California Lighting and Technology Center to help run the experiments. In a June city staff report, the city said the lighting center had been a boon to the efforts to figure out how to better replace old streetlights.

“As subject matter experts operating from a public service mission basis, staff places higher weight on CLTC assessments than its own assessments of those of industry representatives or advocates,” the report said.

As for public safety, whether the City Council picks dimmed or shielded lights, city staff believe safety is not an issue.

“Bicycle, pedestrian and general safety is assumed to improve under all options due primarily to  more consistent  lighting across the community,” the June report said.

The solutions could cost the city anywhere from $33,000 to $150,000 depending on the situation.

The new experiment will give the city information about which LED streetlight glare solutions are best, which are good for residential streets and which are good for greenbelts and parks.

For more information, a map, and a link to the survey, visit: publicworks.cityofdavis.org/transportation/construction-projects/city-wide-streetlight-led-retrofit-project.

Or, go to the cityofdavis.org website and click on the streetlight link in a list of links on the right side of the page. It will take your to information about the experiment and provide a link to the survey.

Individuals also may send feedback using email at [email protected] or in writing, remember to include the light pole numbers.

— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or call 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews

Dave Ryan

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