La Jollans working to get lights back on in the Village

Some of the shooting-star lights, seen here in December, remain up in a two-block area along Girard Avenue where streetlights are out. Photo: Halie Johnson
Some of the shooting-star lights, seen here in December, remain up in a two-block area along Girard Avenue where streetlights are out. Photo: Halie Johnson

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

La Jollans are working on resolving a chronically troublesome 70-year-old streetlight circuit that’s continually knocking out power to a section of the Village. The problem is tat as soon as one part of the circuit is repaired, another part of it fails.

Working through official channels to correct the problem is taking a considerable amount of time — and likely will in the future.

“We’re continuing to collect signatures on a petition,” said La Jolla Town Council Trustee Egon Kafka, who’s leading the effort to get the city to completely rewire and modernize a 240-volt configuration old circuit that powers streetlights along Girard, Herschel and Wall streets, as was done with a similar circuit on Prospect Street a couple of years ago. In the meantime, 16 shooting stars put up during the holidays remain up in a two-block section of lower Girard Avenue, which would otherwise remain dark.

La Jolla’s Streetscape Committee voted recently to pass a petition to Mayor Jerry Sanders asking him to put the La Jolla streetlight circuit at the top of the city’s Capital Improvement Project List for prompt action. Kafka has been a member of the committee and on Friday was asked to take over its leadership as Glen Rasmussen is stepping down.

The good news, Kafka said, is that a couple hundred people have already signed the petition which he has been personally circulating and bringing to community meetings. The bad news, with the rate at which things are moving, it’s likely to take at least until September for repairs to begin.

“If this were at the top of the Capital Improvement Projects List, it would probably take six or seven months for it to be planned and put out to bid,” Kafka said. “That’s June or July before they could start work and there’s the summer (work) moratorium, so it wouldn’t be going until September. It seems to me, even with a tailwind and an optimal outcome, this won’t be done until Halloween 2011. What do we do in the meantime for streetlights?"

The affected streetlight circuit, located on two bocks of Girard Avenue, two blocks of Hershel Street and all of Wall Street, encompasses 11 tall poles and 48 streetlights, including 11 "cobra heads" on the tall polls, 34 original Marbelite classic streetlights, two modern retro-classics and one unique double streetlight fixture at the corner of the Athenaeum.

“Twenty-one of the 48 lights at this moment are not working, and three of those near the Athenaeum of have been dark for more than seven years,” Kafka said, adding, “There has been a total, or partial, failure of the circuit for more than five months in 2010.”

First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s office is also working on the streetlight circuit problem.

“We have contacted the mayor’s office about the situation and are working with them to see what can be done about this aging circuit,” e-mailed Erin Demorist, Lightner’s La Jolla rep. “We’ve been working with Egon and with the community over the last few months to get regular repairs to this circuit, but the problems have continued, so the community would like to see the circuit replaced rather than having to be constantly repaired.”

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