City Wants Feedback on LED Streetlights and Greenbelt/ Park Lighting Options

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led-street-lights
Stock photo – not in Davis

(From Press Release)

In recent months the City has installed LED streetlights in most areas of Davis. The new lights save money and energy and last more than three times longer than the old street lights. The new brighter lights have generated both concerns and support from community members. In response, the City has been working with Siemens and the UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC), to identify feasible solutions that address citizen concerns while maintaining safety and as much of the cost/energy savings as possible. Based on this work, the City has selected a range of LED lighting options to compare and test against the LED streetlights that have already been installed on residential streets.

The City is reaching out to residents for feedback on both the LED streetlights that have been installed and several possible alternative LED lights.

Last week the City installed five of these test lights on Oyster Bay Drive in West Davis. The five test lights are located near each other and several of the existing LED streetlights to allow residents to easily compare lighting levels. The light posts are labeled with a number that corresponds to a simple online survey that the City will use to collect feedback. Residents are invited to visit the test location and then the survey link to provide feedback on the test lights.

The City welcomes feedback at any time but will collect community input on the test lights from August 13 to August 24. This information will be used by the City Council when it considers which LED light to use on residential neighborhood streets. Other key factors the City Council will consider in making its decision will be cost, ease of maintenance, and energy use.

In addition, the City is testing several LED lights in parks and greenbelts in North Davis. These two test lights are located in the greenbelt at the end of Elk Place, next to other LED greenbelt lights that were part of a pilot program run by the City several years ago.

The two new greenbelt test lights are located on posts numbered N35 and N36. Residents can provide feedback on the park and greenbelt test lights on the same survey. Again, the City will use this feedback to inform decisions about which LED lights to use in the City’s parks and greenbelts.

The City hopes residents will have the opportunity to visit the test light locations and help shape this Community decision. For best viewing, plan to visit after 8:45pm.

More Information, Map & Survey link: http://public-works.cityofdavis.org/transportation/construction-projects/city-wide-streetlight-led-retrofit-project

Feedback can also be provided via e-mail at PWWeb@cityofdavis.org or in writing – please remember to rank which light fixture(s) you favor using the numbers found on the light pole.

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9 thoughts on “City Wants Feedback on LED Streetlights and Greenbelt/ Park Lighting Options”

  1. Alan Miller

    This is great news IF there are choices that make sense. I was going to redo my house in LEDs, but ordered several to test over the internet and they were all the glaring hot blue-white light. So I WAITED, and Philips came up with these great bulbs that used less energy, were a cool slightly-to-yellow spectrum and spread the light, almost identical to an incandescent bulb. I spent hundreds to retrofit my house, and now the bulbs are about 1/3 what I paid for them and brighter bulbs are available. If there is not a good solution on the market for street and greenbelt lights yet, let’s WAIT. The market will be there, especially if Davis demands a bright, non-glare, yellow-frequency-shift bulb. I am NOT asking for dark streets, and I am in favor of getting all our streetlights fixed, possibly even adding some where needed. I’m not asking for dimmer street lights, even slightly brighter than sodium vapor is OK. What I am not OK with is the glaring blue-white streetlights. There is no need to settle for this, and they are not necessary in order to light our streets. We CAN compromise on this; it is OK to have lit streets and no glare. If we have to wait until a better frequency bulb is on the market, then I hope the city will do as I did. A better light-frequency LED is totally technically doable, just as the in-house ones didn’t exist until Philips, and now several other companies, saw the market potential and met it. This will happen with streetlights. Unless we all want Davis to look like a Walmart parking lot at night.

    1. DavisBurns

      The survey is at least trying to get people involved but they are asking subjective questions when we need to make final decisions based on the specifications of the fixtures. The cost of these lights will continue to go down and the demand for fixtures that meet criteria other than simply saving energy will increase. LED street lights have major problems with glare, color and light trespass and these issues are on going. If we install these fixtures we will be stuck with them for 15 years.

      My husband and I are attending the International Dark Sky Association’s conference on lighting next week. There will be attendees from different disciplines presenting information on the challenges of LED lighting. IDA expects to have a revised standard for street lights by the end of the year. The Leotek fixtures we have are currently Dark Sky approved but it is unlikely they will be in the very near future. As you said, we need to hold off on this project until there are better options and also until we can specify more than energy efficiency as a requirement.

      On a brighter (or dimmer) note, we have 6 lights that shine in our bedroom windows! Okay, three aren’t bad until the leaves fall but that’s about five months of the year. The city came out and put shields on 3 of the 6 and it is a huge improvement. You may wonder how any one house, especially any one bedroom can be that impacted–second story corner bedroom, corner lot, on two curved streets=many street lights.

      If you have light trespass, I encourage you to ask for mitigation.

  2. Davis Progressive

    “Last week the City installed five of these test lights on Oyster Bay Drive in West Davis. The five test lights are located near each other and several of the existing LED streetlights to allow residents to easily compare lighting levels.”

    why would the city not provide photos of it. if they want feedback forcing us to drive out there doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  3. DavisBurns

    You don’t see the same thing with a photograph as your eye sees. You need to see them in person. We took a camera. In the view finder the glare is minimized. When you look at it the glare is a large fuzzy ball that is uncomfortable to look at for very long.

    If you go at twilight you can see some are different fixtures, maybe the ones used in the demo projects in five peripheral neighborhoods and some are the new Leotek fixtures with modifications. Three appear to have a warmer color and some seem to have from glare mitigated.

    I don’t like the survey, as it only wants a rating from best to worse for each fixture. It should have questions about color, light intensity and glare from different angles and at different distances. There is no option for none of the above. However I am pleased they are at least asking. This is much more than they did during the YEARS they had the demo lights up. They put them up and figured no feedback was approval.

    We don’t have a “let’s wait until we have better options” box to check. They all have glare. These lights are a real problem for our aging population.

    They also have LED greenbelt lighting off Elk Place. I have serious reservations about the use of LED lights on greenbelts. These lights are problems because they shine in bedroom windows and because they shine in wildlife areas all night when the vast majority of humans are asleep and the majority of the wildlife is awake. Nocturnal and crepuscular organisms are heavily impacted by light at night. It interferes with feeding, mating and reproduction. I have encouraged the city to consult with qualified biological experts. For years I walked the greenbelt near my house, usually from one am to around three am and I rarely encountered another person. I mean I almost never saw another person. Julie Partansky’s dark sky ordinance originally proposed turning those lights off after 10 PM. I think 10 might be early but I think we are wasting our money and energy keeping them on all night.

  4. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    I love the new, much better lights on my street. However, my street is old and the trees are full-sized and thick with leaves which mute the light. I was speaking with a Davis resident not too long ago who told me he and his wife were troubled by the bright glare shining into their home from the new street lights. I gathered from the conversation that a difference was he lives in a relatively new neighborhood with immature street trees. So in that case, the older lights were sufficient to light up the street. In mine, they never were. I am three houses in each direction from a street lamp. And it used to be very dark everywhere in between on the sidewalks. Now it is livable and feels safer.

    1. Alan Miller

      I don’t agree with this assessment. From what I have seen the LED lamps are very bright at the source and do have more light if there are no obstructions such as trees, but where there are trees, the light is more restricted in its spread than sodium vapor; certainly the variation from bright to dark is more extreme between lights, causing pupils to contract. During the winter when the leaves are gone, you get the glare. But it’s a totally hit and miss thing, dictated by if you happen to live near a streetlight or not, if there is a tree around the light or not, as the lights can be pretty far apart, as much as a block in some neighborhoods.

      The thing is, I don’t think this needs to be an “Us” vs. “them” situation like fluoridation where you either have it or you don’t; you can have bright lights that don’t have glare and meet the dark sky ordinance and intent. Certainly a lot of us are bothered by the blue-white spectrum and the glare and find it makes Davis more unpleasant at night. However, yellow-white spectrum light can be brighter than current without the glare. This is a perfectly reasonable compromise. As I said, I would even been in favor of a few more streetlights.

      One thing I hope we can all agree on is that all the currently burned-out streetlights should be replaced immediately. It seems there are less burned out than a year or two ago, but still far too many. This should be the #1 priority.

      1. DavisBurns

        Alan, I agree that the new lights cause deeper shadows . Our eyes constrict very quickly in response to light, especially blue light. They take up to 30 minutes to fully dilate so when we look at or pass under a street light our eyes immediately adapt to the increased light but when we walk into the shadows our eyes need many minutes to adjust making the shadows appear darker.

        I also agree about replacing burned out lights. I thought they did that first but they did not. They just started on west side of town and worked eastward so we have burned out lights. They only have 600 lights left to replace.

        I don’t necessarily agree about needing more lights. We need to do an assessment of where we need light, how much light we need and when we need light. For instance, there are guideline for how many lights we use at an intersection, for instance Oak and Covell. There are nine street lights within about 100 feet of this T intersection. There needs to be a minimum of two lights and a maximum of four. We need to evaluate the lighting that is in place and remove excess lights and install lights where needed. There is no process in place in the city to do this. If someone wants an additional light, there is a process.

        Here is a statistic I find alarming, for 300 years over 6 continents and 5 technologies, the cost for lighting has remained a constant 0.72% of world GDP. Regardless of increased energy efficiency, we always spend the same portion of our available funds on lighting. For Davis, that means, unless we decide to cap the lumens we use or the dollars we spend, we will increase the money we spend on lighting until we are spending just as much as this project saved.

  5. DavisBurns

    I also live in an older neighborhood with mature trees and one light down the street was hidden in evergreen trees. The city trimmed the trees and bingo! One more light shining in my window. I have to wonder if we shouldn’t put the lights under the tree canopies instead of competing with the canopies.

    While I like dark streets, I can see how having a light out mid block can make a street very dark.

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