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Street Lighting District assessment unchanged

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
Issue 33, Volume 18.
Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent
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The annual assessment for properties in Zone A of the San Diego County Street Lighting District will remain at $6.48 per equivalent dwelling unit.

A 5-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote July 30 approved the annual assessment equivalent to the rate which has not changed since 2008-09. The county supervisors set the hearing date June 25 on a 5-0 vote which also approved the Engineer’s Report for the street lighting district.

"Funding continues to be sufficient without a rate increase, which is great news for our residents whose taxes go towards this funding," said Supervisor Bill Horn.

The county’s Department of Public Works, which operates the street lighting district, has adopted a policy of slight annual increases to keep pace with energy costs rather than a large increase which was the case in 2004. Stabilized energy, labor, and material costs have allowed the assessment to remain unchanged since 2008.

"We have sufficient fund balance," said Michele Stress, the Department of Public Works coordinator for special districts.

"We’ve been able to save money over the years," Stress said. "SDG&E rates have gone up, but we’ve been able to manage."

A California Energy Commission loan will allow the county to convert between 2,000 and 2,500 of the street lights to light-emitting diode bulbs. "We’ll be getting quite a bit of energy savings from SDG&E," Stress said.

The San Diego County Street Lighting District was formed in September 1987. The district itself includes the entirety of unincorporated San Diego County; Zone A covers parcels which benefit from street lights in the district while Zone B consists of the remainder of the district. The district maintains and operates 6,517 street lights in residential areas and along major roadways.

Zone A includes 622 street lights in Fallbrook consisting of 418 high-pressure sodium bulbs with 100-lumen wattage, 198 high-pressure sodium lights with 250-lumen wattage, two low-pressure sodium lights with 180-lumen wattage, and four low-pressure lights with 90-lumen wattage.

Bonsall has 10 lights in Zone A: seven 100-lumen high-pressure bulbs, two 250-lumen high-pressure lights, and one 90-lumen low-pressure bulb. Pauma Valley’s three lights consist of two 100-lumen high-pressure lights and one 250-lumen high pressure bulbs. Rainbow’s two Zone A lights are a 100-lumen high-pressure fixture and a 90-lumen low-pressure light. Neither Pala nor DeLuz have any lights in Zone A. An additional 3,667 street lights are owned by San Diego Gas & Electric with the county paying for the electricity costs, bringing the total amount to 10,068 lights.

Zone A covers more than 100,000 benefit units and 200,000 customers. In 1987, voters approved an assessment rate of up to $25 per year per benefit unit, with a single-family home equating to one benefit unit. The fee was reduced from $23 to $2.50 per benefit unit in 1990 and stayed at $2.50 until 2004, when rising energy costs and a state budget shift from special districts did not allow increased efficiency to offset the additional expenses. The assessment was increased to $5.33 per benefit unit for fiscal year 2004-05, $5.60 for 2005-06, $5.88 for 2006-07, $6.17 for 2007-08, and $6.48 for 2008-09.



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