La Jolla Shores group takes dim view of San Diego’s proposed changes to streetlight design

Neither of these streetlight options was preferred by the La Jolla Shores Association board during its meeting May 10.
(Screenshot by Elisabeth Frausto)

Lanterns the board chose in September are no longer eligible because of their light distribution, the city says, but Shores Association members call suggested alternatives ‘out of character’ with the area.


Eight months after the city of San Diego asked the La Jolla Shores Association to select design features of new streetlights to be installed in The Shores, city officials returned with updates and asked for further input, saying the lanterns the board preferred can’t be used.

Thirty-seven streetlights will be replaced or installed as part of the Block 1J Phase 1 undergrounding project, which currently is placing utility lines underground from La Jolla Shores Drive west to the ocean and from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography south to Avenida de la Playa.

The undergrounding project is nearing completion but will need to pause between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends for a moratorium on summer construction in beach communities. The project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024, with the streetlights completed next spring.

The streetlights’ wiring will use the same trenches dug for the undergrounding, city of San Diego senior civil engineer Dayue Zhang said at the Shores Association’s virtual meeting May 10.

“We are upgrading the high-voltage series circuits to multi-pole, low-voltage parallel circuits,” Zhang said. He added that any malfunctioning lights will be easily isolated and quickly identified without affecting any others.

Of the 37 lights to be installed, five are “cobra head” lights, which extend from the pole; the others will be decorative “post-top” lights.

In September, a city engineer asked LJSA to choose several features of the 32 post-top lights. Zhang said this week that some of the selected elements will remain: pole type (pre-stressed concrete); pole height (9½ feet); basic pole color (gray); light color (3000 kelvin yellow); and lens material (acrylic).

New streetlight poles coming to La Jolla Shores will have an anti-graffiti coating (right).
(Screenshot by Elisabeth Frausto)

However, the city now is adding an anti-graffiti coating that will alter the pole color, Zhang said.

Also, officials realized lights must conform to a City Council “dark sky” resolution that states “no light distribution can go above the horizon,” Zhang said.

The lanterns chosen by LJSA in September are no longer eligible as they allow light to be emitted from the top of the globe, he said.

The new choices Zhang presented are lanterns made by General Electric and Spring City. The GE lantern is in use along portions of La Jolla Boulevard and Prospect Street; the Spring City lantern is in use throughout Ocean Beach.

One difference between the lanterns, aside from their coloring, is their light distribution, Zhang said

The GE light distribution can be symmetrical or asymmetrical, directed away from homes and more onto the street. The GE lantern cannot be frosted, Zhang added.

The Spring City lantern can be clear or frosted, with a partial or full shield added to distribute light away from houses.

“Has there been any consideration to just coating the top of the [originally selected] globes … with a reflective coating?” LJSA board member Rick Kent asked. He said the newly presented lanterns are “completely out of character” for The Shores.

The city of San Diego will install 37 new streetlights in La Jolla Shores.
(Screenshot by Elisabeth Frausto)

Zhang reiterated that the GE lanterns are already in The Village and other parts of La Jolla, but LJSA President Janie Emerson said “The Shores has always had its own identity. … The fact that those are in La Jolla doesn’t mean anything.”

“It probably is cheaper in the end” to coat the original globes to prevent light from extending beyond the horizon, Shores resident Mary Coakley Munk said. “It definitely will look better.”

Board member Meinrat “Andi” Andreae commended the city for “making this decision to [add] the dark-sky shielding.”

“It’s important to mitigate light pollution,” he added.

LJSA member Andrew Perry motioned to choose the Spring City lantern in frosted acrylic, but only two board members (Perry and Andreae) supported it.

Kent then motioned to ask the city to return with “a simpler design, less ornate, possibly by modifying the simple, acrylic frosted globe that we had previously approved … by putting a reflective coating and a neutral color on top of that.”

Though Andreae said “I think it’s pretty impractical,” Kent’s motion passed 6-5, with Emerson breaking the tie (the president typically abstains unless there is a tie).

Next meeting: The La Jolla Shores Association next meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, online. Learn more at