To improve safety for the La Jollans and hundreds of La Jolla High School students who regularly use Westbourne Street — whether to get to or from school, the beach or the 7-11 convenience store — homeowners successfully advocated for the installation of more street lights, which went up in late August.
Leading the charge, Nathan Jernigan, who said his truck was stolen twice when parked on the street, cited those incidents as well as pedestrian safety concerns, when seeking the lights. "There was a street light at one corner near the high school, and another at La Jolla Boulevard. So unless someone on the block had a porch light on — or lights on inside the house facing the street — that was our only source of light at night," he said.
In support, resident Melinda Merryweather added, "It's a super dark street … and in the winter months when it gets dark early, it's scary to walk up and down. Plus, there always seems to be something going on at the high school, so students walk up and down the street. It would made nervous."
So about five months ago, Jernigan, with help from wife, Stephanie, and Merryweather, petitioned the city for more street lights. "We went to La Jolla Traffic & Transportation board and the La Jolla Town Council, and through them, we got in touch with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and learned about the Dawn to Dusk program," Jernigan said.
SDG&E spokesperson Allison Torres explained that through the program, special SDG&E lights can be installed on existing wood poles (pending review by SDG&E). There is no upfront cost for most installations unless excess cable is required.
"Only one customer can be responsible for the monthly payment and the SDG&E bill is put into that customer's name and mailed directly to them," Torres said. "Different light types and wattages are available, but the cost for the most common light is approximately $16 per month. If the wood pole is installed strictly for the light, there will be an additional $9 pole charge per month." However, SDG&E cannot install new wood poles in designated underground areas or overhead-to-underground conversion boundaries.
Torres added SDG&E will perform all maintenance and repairs on the light free of charge, and comply with lighting polices of San Diego municipalities.
Since they met the criteria, and were willing to foot the bill, residents got the lights installed. "They said it would take five months, and they were pretty much right on target," Jernigan said. "We got the lights right when school resumed, so it will be great for the kids."
Of the quick turn-around, Merryweather said, "It was amazing. If the City of San Diego was going to put in the lights, they would be more expensive and it would take a longer time." She recommends the program to anyone who thinks their street is too dark. "It's worth it to have lights on your street," she said. "It's much safer."
Joking that during football games "there will be 300 people walking up and down that street," Jernigan said, "It's good that this little area is getting some attention."
But wait! There's more!
This is the second safety improvement the area has seen in the last year. In August 2015, the city installed a pedestrian-activated lighted crosswalk across La Jolla Boulevard at Westbourne Street, in response to resident concerns that the existing crosswalk was unsafe. Prior to the installation, there were no lights, stop sign or any other device to stop cars if a pedestrian entered the crosswalk.
"The lighted crosswalk has been huge, and it's still not 100 percent successful, because people don't always stop, but it is 100 times better than it was," Merryweather commented.
• Interested in the Dawn to Dusk program for your street? Request a SDG&E review by calling 1-800-411-7343 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
If available, provide the pole number of the wood pole where you'd like the light installed. The pole number will be at eye-level on the pole and begin with a "P."