Portions of our neighborhood streets are rather dark at night. This may not be a big issue for car drivers, but for people and animals on foot it can be hard to see where you are walking and it may be difficult to be seen by drivers while crossing driveways or the street or walking where there are no sidewalks. All the same, while some residents may want more lighting, some may be quite content with their quiet darkness.
- Tree trimming to improve effectiveness of existing lighting
- A street lighting system is to be installed on Estado between Santa Paula and Avocado Lane. It is expected to happen in July 2007 to August 2007. This is under a program for street segments currently without lights and without existing utility poles to add lights to. This program has resulted in lights being added on several streets between Hill and Altadena, for example. Years ago, all the street segments in the city without any lights or utility poles were put on a list which was then prioritized based on reported crime rates. This portion of Estado is the only street in our neighborhood on the list, and it is near the bottom of the list. The city has gradually been making its way through the list. When the streets above it are finished, the residents of Estado will be requested to vote on whether they want a lighting system installed and, if so, which of about 6 styles of lights they want. Most streets have voted for one of the pedestrian style lights. The city will underground the wiring for the new lights, but the existing utility lines (which run behind the houses on Estado) will be unaffected. There will probably be about 4 lights put in because the city always builds new systems to the current code. Some streets that were proposed to have lights added under this program have rejected having it done because the residents felt the result would be too bright.
- Changing existing lights to a higher wattage. The city engineer said there is existing funding to do this.
You can determine the wattage of an existing light by looking up at the bottom of the light fixture (during the day). There is a number there. Add a 0 to the end and that is the wattage. For example, if it says “15”, then it is a 150 watt light. Increasing the wattage requires a petition/approval of all homeowners who could be affected by the increased lighting.
- On those streets where there are existing utility poles which do not already have lights, there is funding to add lights. This requires a petition/approval of all homeowners who could be affected by the increased lighting. To initiate the process of getting a light added to such a pole, contact the City Engineering office. They will send someone out to check the situation and then make up and send you a petition to be signed by the nearby residents. Sometime after that is turned in, the light is installed.
- There is no current program for adding poles where they don’t already exist or for adding pedestrian lighting – except in special areas of development where such improvements have been put into the specific plans. For example, Halstead street will get lighting as part of modifications according the the East Pasadena Specific Plan and funded via transit oriented improvement monies related to the Gold Line. You may also notice some old metal light poles being replaced in other areas of the city – these are supposedly so deteriorated that they are considered dangerous.
Hermanos is the best lit interior street. It has numerous concrete poles alternating on each side of the street. This pattern continues around the curve onto Avocado Ave to Las Lunas. On Avocado the lighting becomes less effective due to the dense pine trees.
Las Lunas street east of the northernmost portion of Avocado relies on wooden lamp poles fed by individual electric lines strung between residences to the utility poles behind. There are 3 of these lamps, but still there are some significant dark areas. The dark areas could be reduced significantly by street tree trimming.
There are concrete poles on the eastern side of Avocado where it meets Las Lunas and the northern corner with Del Vina. There are no lights on the west side of Avocado. Without the pedestrian style lamp installed just inside the sidewalk line by the homeowner in the middle, there is a dark area in between. Trimming of low branches on the northern pine trees has also helped.
Del Vina is the second best lit interior street. This is because its electrical lines run on wood poles along the north side of the street, providing relatively easy opportunities for co-located street lights on those poles. Basically, every second pole has a street light plus three recently added to the westernmost pole, at the intersection with Santa Paula Ave., and in the middle between. However, when the elm trees have not been trimmed in a while, little of the light reaches the ground.
Avocado Ave between Del Vina and Alameda has electrical lines along the east side of the street south of 494. Until we got a light added at 494, there was a severe light gap between the NE corner of Del Vina and Avocado and the light at 482 Avocado. Now it is much better. Lack of tree trimming is a continuing issue.
The northern section of Santa Paula Ave is lit by 3 lamps on wooden poles fed by lines between houses to the electrical utilities behind. Particularly near the intersection with Alameda it is quite dark without help from adjacent homeowner lights. The northernmost portion of Santa Paula where it intersects Del Vina is also dark and the lack of sidewalks and cars frequently parked in this dark area add to the concern for pedestrians. There are no poles on Santa Paula which could have lights added, but adding a light to the pole at 3217 Del Vina might alleviate the darkness at the northern end.
Mercury Lane has two lights between Alameda and its dead end. They are on wooden poles fed by lines running between houses to utility poles behind. Tree trimming could help significantly.
Vineyard had only two lights between Alameda and its dead end until lights were added to the other poles at resident’s request. Now it is better.
The easternmost end of Alameda is fairly well lit. Untrimmed trees cause problems for lights at the intersections with Mercury Lane, Vinyard, and both Santa Paula segments. The section of Alameda between the northern and southern Santa Paula segments is particularly dark. There is a utility pole at 3178 Alameda to which an added light might make a big difference. It is also fairly dark east of Avocado Ln. If tree trimming is insufficient, a light could be added to the pole at 3124 Alameda. The portion of Alameda intersecting Avocado Ln and Avocado Ave is fairly well lit. Alameda has utility poles on the south side from Avocado Ln to Santa Paula. East of that the utilities come from behind the houses.
Avocado Lane is fairly well lit. It has utility poles along its east side. It is darker between La Tierra and Estado then between Estado and Alameda.
The southern segment of Santa Paula is fairly well lit with one or more lights at least at each intersection. It has utility poles along its eastern side and also some on the west where distribution lines run for the E-W streets.
Estado is poorly lit. There are no lights between Avocado Lane and Santa Paula. The city has this segment on a list to have lights added – probably in 2006. There are two lights between Santa Paula and Sierra Madre Villa. There is significant occlusion from trees, but even if that is cleared up it appears there will still be a dark area between Santa Paula and the westernmost light. Electric lines on this section of street run behind the houses and there are no utility poles in this area to which a light could be added.
La Tierra between Santa Paula and Avocado lane would probably be well lit if the tree at 3135 were trimmed. Electric lines run along the north side of this street segment. La Tierra from Santa Paula to Sierra Madre Villa has two lights on wooden poles. Electric lines run behind the houses. There is a dark area between Santa Paula and the first light to the east. Adding a light to the utility pole at 3171 could remedy this.
On Mataro Street, the utility lines also run behind the houses. There are two or three lights on this street. The easternmost end has commercial establishments on the south side. The western end between Santa Paula and the first street light to the east is fairly dark, especially on the north side. This is partly an artifact of homeowner trees.
Questions for City
- How does the city determine whether lighting is adequate? Is it checked/measured at night to see how it is actually working, taking into account often temporary light sources from adjacent homes and occlusion from trees, or is it done strictly on theories of wattage, height, spread?
- What are the rules regarding the height of the street lights? In some cases, lowering the light would make it more effective (even though the theoretical cone of spread would be less) because it would be less occluded by trees.
- When lighting depends so heavily on trimming of trees, relying on scheduling based on customer complaints doesn’t seem very efficient. Especially with the elms, you can bet something will need to be done nearly every year. Yet regular trimming is scheduled only every 4 or 5 years.
- There is a perception that many residential streets elsewhere have pedestrian lighting, some even having it recently installed or upgraded. This leads to a perception of discrimination. What are the criteria which have triggered city installed pedestrian lighting now and in years past?
- Does the city have recommendations for, or restrictions on, homeowner installed pedestrian lighting? Where there is no funded solution or any expectation of same for dark areas, encouraging homeowners to install helpful lighting may be the only option.
Questions for Residents
- How do people feel about the lighting in the immediate vicinity of their house and on streets they use regularly?
- Too little or enough?
- For cars?
- For pedestrians?
- For security?
- Are trees in the way? If so, are they city or homeowner trees?
- Would more wattage in existing lamps help?
- Would additional street lights really help, or would it have to be pedestrian lighting?
- Is anyone willing to pay a special assessment for more lighting? (Might be better off just adding your own pedestrian lighting.)
- Too little or enough?
- Can lighting improvements on local streets be tied to any local development projects?
- Is there interest in taking on project to research what residents think about the current situation and what they would like to have, the technical and financial issues, and possible actions to be taken? Form a committee?