History of Street Light Reduction Program
In 2008, the Transportation and Public Works Department was required to reduce its General Fund budget by 25% due to citywide budget reductions. The Department made several budget cuts to achieve this, including reducing its pothole patching crews from three to two; however, an additional $350,000 in cuts was still needed. Rather than laying off an additional pothole patching crew, the Department recommended to the City Council that the cost saving be realized through a reduction in energy expenditures.
In 2009, the City Council approved the Street Light Reduction Program with the aim of cutting annual energy expenditures by 25% through a combination of de-energizing some of the City's street lights and equipping some with programmable photocell timers.
City electrical crews began reducing street lighting in the Junior College neighborhood in 2009. In following years, the program continued to Fountaingrove, Montecito Heights, Rincon Valley, Oakmont, Bennett Valley, and the northwest area.
The Street Light Reduction Program was implemented over a five-year period between 2009 and 2013 and resulted in approximately 3,400 street lights being turned off and approximately 1,300 street lights being equipped with photocell timers.
In addition to savings in energy consumption costs, the Street Light Reduction Program also resulted in significant environmental benefits due to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. An estimated 1,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced annually through this program.
Grand Jury Investigation
In 2012 - 2013, the Sonoma County Grand Jury conducted an investigation of the City's Street Light Reduction Program. The Grand Jury concluded that the Transportation and Public Works Department had carefully developed and effectively implemented the Street Light Reduction Program. View the full Grand Jury Report (PDF) and findings.
Lights Affected by the Street Light Reduction Program
Engineers determined which street lights would be de-energized based on a technical analysis that factored in the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Street lights illuminating intersections were not affected, nor were the street lights in areas with high pedestrian activity, such as Downtown or neighborhoods in the Neighborhood Revitalization Program.
A spacing of approximately 300 feet was maintained between illuminated street lights. De-energized street lights are identified by a yellow decal which is affixed to the pole. In the left sidebar of this webpage are examples of the decals affixed to street lights affected by the Street Light Reduction Program.