Bird Rock lighting plans hit a snag

A Bird Rock community project to install lighting in roundabout medians was ready to go, but the city said no go.

At a June 5 meeting between city officials and Bird Rock representatives, the community was told it couldn’t take on the project itself.

“They (city) said the project has to go through the city process, which will include its getting a capital improvement project number, which requires City Council action,” said Joe LaCava, Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) president. “They were candid in telling us Bird Rock will have to fight to get priority for this (streetlight) project, which will simply go in the hopper with all the other projects.”

Placing the project within the city’s purview will also likely add at least 30 percent to its estimated cost and take a year and a half to two years before construction could begin, he added.

They’ll go into the holding pattern to see the city’s cost estimate before the council decides whether it still has an “appetite” for doing the project.

Money’s there

Bird Rock has money in its maintenance assessment district (MAD) budget to help fund the project, which may help carry it through the city planning process, said LaCava.

The Bird Rock council, which represents residents and merchants and also administers the district that maintains five traffic roundabouts and their landscaping along La Jolla Boulevard, has had a committee working for about a year on finding a solution to dark nighttime conditions in the commercial district.

“The roundabouts were a nice addition,” said committee chairman George Sutton, who has been meeting with contractors and lighting fixtures suppliers to find a proper fit. But, he added, it gets really dark at night.

Lights and banners

Sutton said the community, through the council, determined what they were looking for: 16 dual lights with banners and a place to put electrical outlets accommodating holiday lighting. He added spot lighting, not high-intensity, is the project objective. “We’re looking for decorative lighting in the medians which adds an ambiance to Bird Rock.”

Sutton said the committee’s goal was to take the streetlighting project to the next step, using MAD funds to get it done.

We were getting to the point of being able to put the project out, or at least get it ready to go out (to get proposals) looking for competitive bids,” he said. “We were not quite there, but were close.”

LaCava said they had received an “updated price for contractors and it’s still within budget,” he said. “The bad news is the city has informed us they’re not going to let us do the project because it is a capital improvement project and MADs can’t do capital improvement projects.”

LaCava explained that Bird Rock’s maintenance district is qualitatively different than many others because it is locally managed, not city managed.