City bucks for “twinkle lights”

Council also approves funding for I-805 holiday bridge-lights project

A more "walkable and inviting" University Avenue (at Granada) is envisioned.
  • A more "walkable and inviting" University Avenue (at Granada) is envisioned.

North Park residents will soon get a lot of twinkle in their eyes, thanks to $5200 in “community programs and services” funding from the city. The San Diego City Council on March 15 passed (as an agenda consent item) a request from North Park Organization of Businesses, Inc., for the twinkle-light installation. The organization is popularly known as North Park Main Street, a business improvement district.

The 240 LED twinkle lights will be installed in 16 trees along both sides of University Avenue in North Park, between Granada Avenue and 30th Street. The lighting will remain year-round and will be “maintained by a professional lighting expert.” Repairs to existing electrical boxes will be covered by the North Park MAD (maintenance assessment district).

The vote was unanimous (with District 9 councilmember Marti Emerald absent). According to a city-council docket supporting document, “...the light display will draw attention to and bring vibrancy to the thriving commercial district.”

In a statement, District 3 councilmember Todd Gloria said he was “happy to support funding for the twinkle-light project. The lighting will improve public safety...and will serve the community’s goals of creating walkable and inviting public spaces.”

The Downtown San Diego Partnership previously paid for hundreds of twinkle lights for trees in the business districts through its “Clean & Safe Program.” The organization's spokesperson, Christina Chadwick, said, “There are more than 750 trees with lights in downtown. The installation cost for the trees is a couple hundred thousand dollars.”

The city council also approved funding of $1800 to El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association for their Mid-City I-805 holiday bridge-lights project. That project is a joint effort by the Adams Avenue, El Cajon Boulevard, North Park, and City Heights business improvement associations.

The project covers seven bridges in the North Park/Mid-City areas, between Adams Avenue and Landis Street. The amount funds the ongoing annual lighting display on the bridges. It will pay for installation, city permit, electricity, and bulb replacement.

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It's great to see the neighborhood groups doing things to light up the night. Too bad the powers-that-be for the City and the Port District never got their act together so the Coronado Bridge could be lit up as well. There was once a proposal to put LED's on the supports, which would have looked fantastic. It's amazing how dangerously close we get to being a world class city. We would rather spend millions building a facility so some boys can play with a ball.

Maybe private funding could pay for the Coronado Bridge lighting?

It is not accurate to credit the Downtown San Diego Partnership for paying "a couple hundred thousand dollars" for tree lights downtown. While they do administer the "Clean & Safe Program" via a 10 year contract with the City, the money for the program is completely generated from mandatory assessment fees added onto the property tax bills of all downtown real estate owners. The Downtown San Diego Partnership itself does not own real estate downtown, so pays no assessment fees, nor does it use any of its members' dues to pay for "Clean & Safe" services.

Yes, I know the Downtown San Diego Partnership administers the "Clean & Safe Program" via a contract. I can't say if they actually wrote the checks from their bank account, or whether payment is made from the City Treasury. And yes, the amount comes from assessments; the article didn't state the payment was from member fees. On a similar note, we obviously know that Todd Gloria didn't sit down at his desk and write a check for the North Park twinkle lights.

I'm sure some of you remember when, in deference to the Palomar telescope, the city installed ugly yellow street lights. The reduced light pollution was to help the 'scope do its thing.

White lights are back now, and everyone has security lights in their front and back yard. Commercial venues go all out to light up their offerings. It's like Christmas every night. We can do what only Hollywood or Times Square once did and it's affordable with LED lights. Aren't we special !?!?

But some miss the darkness of long ago. There is no nook or cranny of darkness in this city. If you close those flimsy blinds, the light still penetrates your sleeping chamber. Sleeping without darkness is proven to be unhealthy, but more important to me is that I can't see any stars when I make my 5am run. A night without stars is like ... something really awful.

I won't mention the noise pollution from garbage trucks, helicopters, sirens and leaf blowers or the other noise on video screens large and small, or the olfactory noise that subtly undermines our well-being, until another day.

You're right about blinds letting light into the bedroom. So I bought blackout curtains a while back, and solved that problem.

Everyone who lives there pays for the lights through special assessments. We do not hear if that is how they would have chosen to spend their money, given the opportunity to decide for themselves. The MADs and PBIDs write the checks, and decide who gets the contract to install them. The city reimburses them. They start with a fixed amount from the assessment funds, which is replenished through these reimbursements. Twinkle away!

It will be illuminating to see how North Park merchants and customers like the new lighting. Shoppers will vote with their wallets and purses, and indicate WATTS happening. {Sorry, couldn't help it!}

Instead of putting "lipstick on a pig", they should use the money for road maintenance?

Well, spending that $5,200 for road maintenance wouldn't even cover one day's pothole filling. And while I don't speak for them, I don't think business owners in that 2-block section of North Park would agree about that area being piggish.

Now the chewing-gum covered, cigarette littered sidewalks and potholed streets will be visible 24/7.

Do you mean these beautiful sidewalks? This is University Ave., between 29th and 30th St. Exactly where the "twinkle lights" will go.

Yes, that's the location, but on both sides of University.

I walk those sidewalks often, and don't recall seeing that many cigarette butts or chewing gum. The Urban Corps does regular cleaning and trash-emptying in that area.

To Jay Ojeda on Facebook: You said: "The lights by Ray Street and University are constantly unplugged by the homeless population." Are you reporting this to SDPD and North Park Main Street? Just mentioning it online is not likely to get that problem solved.

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