Who left the lights on downtown? Blame city cutbacks
Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 9:08 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 9:13 a.m.
A stroll downtown can be quite an illuminating experience these days. Some of the city's lampposts are burning brightly, but not only at night. They're on early in the morning, at high noon, rain or shine — in other words, 24 hours a day.
SEE A PROBLEM?
If you see a problem with a street light, please contact the Dept. of Public Works at 778-4303 with the pole number, the nearest street address, cross street, the nature of the problem, and a return phone number. Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pictures were taken of many of these streetlamps, numbering 15, and submitted to the City Public Works Department. Dotting Petaluma Boulevard North, Western Avenue, East Washington Street, Kentucky Street, D Street and Fourth Street, these lights may have been burning 24/7 for perhaps as long as a month or more.
According to city staff, streetlights contain a photoelectric cell on top of the streetlight mast arm that senses sunlight and programs the streetlamps to turn on as sunlight fades and darkness approaches. These may have malfunctioned in some way.
City engineer Curt Bates noted, “We had three traffic signal and streetlight technicians in 2008 but one was laid off due to budget issues, and another retired in June of this year. There are approximately 50 traffic signals and some 6,000 streetlights in the entire city that one person can't handle, but we have additional operations and maintenance staff that we will be rotating to service the system as necessary.”
The city pays a flat rate to PG&E for streetlight power based on the number of fixtures. “However,” Bates added, “your photos show that additional energy is being wasted during the daylight hours which we need to correct.”
Bates was not aware of the problem until the Argus-Courier submitted the photographs to the department for review. He said he would forward the information provided to the city's operations and maintenance division, headed by Ken Burnett, to investigate this matter so that repairs can be made.
“I thank you for telling us about it,” said Bates.
(Contact Bob Canning at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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