Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bob Dunning: Blinded by the light, we grasp for answers


From page A2 | May 23, 2014 |

Trying to make the best of a bad situation, the city of Davis has sought out long-ago pop star Debby Boone to ask permission to use her 1977 Grammy-winning hit, “You Light Up My Life,” as the Official Davis Song.

Given the universally despised new street lights the city has imposed on residents of this town, the title will be changed to “You Light Up My Night,” with the lyrics as follows:

So many nights, I’d sit by my window;
So many dreams, alone in the dark;
But now you’ve come along, and you light up my life;
You light up my days and fill my nights;
Never again to be all alone.

Yes, “have you seen the new street lights?” has become the question of the day, replacing “Yes or No on Measure P?” and “Wolk or Krovoza?”

The ordinary, hard-working folks of this town have been sounding off in a variety of forums, including my very own inbox.

“Don’t let our beautiful community morph into a cheap strip mall,” writes Andrea. “Previously I used my front yard for stargazing. Now I can’t make out a constellation. Davis, rise up and fight this!”

Adds Dorothy succinctly: “I hate the new lights. They hurt my eyes. I’ve had to wear a baseball hat at night to cut down on the glare. Which way do I vote on Measure O to get rid of these things?”

Asks Clay: “Did they do any testing with Davis residents or get any feedback at all from people before they started to swap out the lights?”

The answer would appear to be “no.”

Then again, one anonymous resident found a silver lining when he noted: “Finally, I can work on my free throws at night and get a tan at the same time.”

Mike in Old West Davis says, “Our beautiful street with its warm yellow lights has been turned into a garish Walmart parking lot. I’m so bummed.”

Kent adds that the lights are “really garish, bad and unnatural and they send light much, much farther than the old lights. No way they can allow this project to continue.”

Kent goes on to remind us of the Seinfeld episode “where Kramer got a horrible reddish tan from the Kenny Rogers Fried Chicken sign that went up outside his apartment.”

Fortunately, all family members were wearing sunscreen the first time we encountered one of these man-made machines capable of turning night into day.

Frighteningly, Ryan predicts “a run on BB guns if the city continues to move forward on this.”

Into this hotbed of hostility rides our fearless mayor, Joe Krovoza, on his mighty stallion, Lights Out.

“Here’s where we are,” the mayor tells me. “I have asked that this be on next Tuesday’s meeting agenda. It will be. Staff is preparing a report.”

I’ll write the report for them, Mr. Mayor, and it’ll be only five words long: “We made a terrible mistake.”

Adds the mayor: “In the meantime, while we have the Siemens workers on contract to install, and telling them to stop would rack up costs pending a council action, our interim City Manager

Gene Rogers has worked out with Siemens that all residential installations will halt until after next Tuesday.”

A step in the right direction, but little solace to those living on streets where these merciless monsters have already been installed.

Adds the mayor: “Instead, Siemens will focus on installations on non-residential/arterial streets. Not ideal, but the concerns are coming from the residential areas and this will cost dollars at some level to change the contract.”

The obvious question here, of course, is how did we get locked into this contract without a test run of some sort?

“I believe quite strongly that the lights being installed are of such different quality than what we thought we were getting that we shouldn’t be charged for changing the bid.”

Or, presumably, changing the bulbs.

The mayor, who has clearly taken this issue to heart, has even contacted the two co-directors of the UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center to figure out “just how bright these babies are, and they will be recommending some options for us.”

I think it’s fair to say Mayor Krovoza is “on it,” as he promised he would be when he first encountered these lights on his very own street and stared at them in “disbelief” for a full five minutes.

As for an armed citizenry, the mayor says, “For the record, I am opposed to the use of BB guns to address the situation, which may or may not get me in hot water with the strongest of the Second Amendment proponents.”

Don’t worry about those folks, Joe. They already voted for Charlie Schaupp.

“Alas, if these lights become part of my legacy, I’d be mortified — if I were to survive the angry mob.”

Here’s hoping the mayor survives. And the street lights don’t.

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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