Fallen light pole near La Jolla Cove means darkened streets and stairs likely for weeks

This light pole near La Jolla Cove fell over during a recent storm.
(Bill Robbins)

A light pole that fell at La Jolla Cove in high winds during recent stormy weather may mean darkened streets there for at least the foreseeable future.

San Diego city spokesman Anthony Santacroce told the La Jolla Light this week that it will be a few weeks until crews get to the site to determine whether any maintenance must be done before the double-armed light can be replaced.

“Our staff might be back in the area within two to four weeks to perform other types of maintenance which could allow us to install the pole replacement,” Santacroce said. “We will need to evaluate the pole to determine if we have the pole in inventory to perform the repairs.”

The pole toppled in late February from a sidewalk next to Scripps Park immediately above La Jolla Cove and damaged a section of fencing and some plants below. The pole has since been hauled away.

Most troubling to some people who frequent the area is the lack of light illuminating the street and the stairs leading to The Cove. The nearest light pole to the one that fell is halfway up Coast Boulevard to the north, in front of the La Jolla Bay Homes on the former Green Dragon Colony site. The next-nearest light is nearly all the way up the street in the other direction, near Prospect Street.

Area resident Bill Robbins said some beach-goers stepped on glass after the pole fell and that people who swim in the early morning have had trouble seeing where the water meets the stairs.

The fallen light pole at La Jolla Cove crashed onto the bluff below.
(Bill Robbins)

Robbins raised the issue during the La Jolla Parks & Beaches board meeting Feb. 27, saying: “I would like you folks to help me bury the city in Get It Done [requests]. People are telling me how dark it is down there, especially on the stairs. We need to get this moved up as a priority.”

The incident comes as the city has a backlog of streetlight repairs, which now get done an average of 272 days after a problem is reported.

Some lights have been out for years, residents say. The city of San Diego says steps are being taken to improve response times and address the volume of reports.

Steve Hadley, representing the office of City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said the more concern the city sees from the community through requests on the Get It Done app, the more the response “gets elevated.”

“Not entirely,” he said, “but there is that element to it.”

Hadley noted that San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said recently that there was a backlog of 5,900 non-functioning streetlights and that his office had reached an agreement with the city’s employee labor groups on a one-year plan to use private electricians to reduce the workload for city crews. The mayor’s office estimates that 800 streetlights will be repaired over the next year.

“People are telling me how dark it is down there, especially on the stairs. We need to get this moved up as a priority.”

— Bill Robbins

According to Robbins, the pole, in addition to lighting the street, featured cellphone signal boosters and a traffic counter. A seabird’s perch also was damaged, he said.

However, Santacroce said city crews did not recover “any telecom or traffic counting equipment from the site” when they hauled away the light pole. ◆