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New Light Bulbs Coming to a Street Near You ... Maybe

The City Council voted to start replacing the current set up with more energy-efficient models. You might notice a change in color.

What color do you like your streetlights to be?

The City Council decided a warm, orange glow is much more in keeping with the character of San Juan Capistrano.

The council voted Tuesday 4-1, with Mayor Larry Kramer dissenting, to name induction lighting as the preferred replacement bulb for the city’s streetlights.

The city received a $189,000 grant in July 2010 to start replacing the high-pressure sodium bulbs used now with something more energy efficient. Kramer said he wasn’t happy with the aesthetic tradeoff.

“All the rest of them look white to me, very white. I don’t like any of them,” he said.

Besides the induction lighting, the city could have chosen to go with LED (or light-emitting diode) bulbs, but those are brighter and bluer than both the induction and the current lighting, said Joe Mankawich, an associate engineer with the city.

The downtown area features LED lighting, Mankawich said.

“I want the downtown lights changed. They’re very, very harsh blue light,” said Councilwoman Laura Freese.

The grant, however, will only cover the cost to replace 425 of the city’s 1,583 street lights, according to a report Mankawich wrote. The city is applying for more grant money to complete the conversion.

The new lights are guaranteed to work 10 years and may last another seven after that, Mankawich added.

“We spend $80,000 a year on streetlight electricity. We would save about $40,000 a year if we could change them all out,” he said.

The first streetlights to get the upgraded bulbs are the ones the city calls the “cobra” shape, according to the report. The city has far fewer of these than the more common mission bell shape.

To see a demonstration of how the three types of lighting – the high-pressure sodium, the LED and the induction lighting – compare, the city has refitted the lights along Paseo Adelanto from City Hall north to Del Obispo Street.

Joel Peshkin March 08, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Hopefully, by the time we get to downtown, we can get lights that shine downwards instead of the silly bright lights that shine horizontally and cast dark shadows.
Jim March 09, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Orange glow lighting may become a traffic safety problem for the many folks who are color blind. Sounds crazy, but, if you have never experienced this problem, you would not understand. Those who have a color blind problem will quickly understand . It can be very difficult for them to safely distinguish the red and orange lights when approaching stop lights with orange glowing street lights in the vicinty.

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