Assemblyman Chu Pushes for Daylight Saving Time to Go Dark

At 2am Sunday, the state’s clocks sprang ahead one hour in an attempt to “save” an extra hour of daylight for spring, summer and early fall evenings. The semi annual clock-fixing routine musters up semi-annual arguments, petitions and letters to to change our collective mind about when the sun should come up. One particular South Bay official is now heeding these calls.

If he gets his way we’ll never reset our clocks again.

Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) introduced a bill Feb. 19, which would allow all Californians to vote on whether to ax daylight-saving time. Assembly Bill 2496 has been a long time coming, according to Chu, who said he was originally approached with the idea last year, after the legislature submission deadline had already passed.

Kansen Chu

Kansen Chu

Daylight saving time (DST) was first adopted by the United States in 1918, during World War I, in an effort to conserve energy—the move was almost immediately scrutinized by the general public, and ultimately, the act would be repealed just two years later. However, states were granted the opportunity to continue to observe DST after its repeal. In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt re-enacted year-long daylight saving time to conserve energy usage during World War II, until 1945. After the war ended, most states rescinded it, until 1966 when most re-adopted it. In 2007, it was extended by five weeks, and now runs from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

If Chu’s bill makes it to voters and is approved, California would join an exclusive club of states that ignore the annual time change—Hawaii and Arizona. California adopted daylight saving time after the passing of a 1949 ballot initiative that shifted the hours in the hopes of increasing recreation time and decrease energy costs for lights.

Chu was first approached by a group of constituents who are parents. They described their daily routine of putting their children to sleep, then waking them up for school the following morning, and how it became more strenuous because of the time change.

“It’s an archaic philosophy, and it’s really difficult to adapt to with how our schedules work these days,” agreed Heather Calderone, as she roamed the rainy streets of Campbell’s farmer’s market this past Sunday. “My daughter is in high school, and she has to get up at 5:30 in the morning, and during the springtime, she has to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to make up for the lost time. I don’t think we need it anymore, it adds more confusion, and I don’t think the farmers need it either.”

The farmers, at least those who fill the booths of Campbell’s market, agree with Calderone. Jose Carpio, of Rodriguez Farms in Watsonville, said for the first week of the change, they lose about an hour of their regular sales. Overall, he said, the change doesn’t impact his and his workers’ wallets that hard, but the overall confusion DST creates is enough to be rid of the hassle.

Luke Estrella, of Fifth Crow Farms in Pescadero, didn’t even realize daylight saving time had hit until he woke up for the drive to Campbell to set up at the market. He doesn’t necessarily disagree with DST opponents, but he appreciates the extra time he and co-workers receive from the spring time change, when his highest harvest takes place.

“We get more daylight earlier,” Estrella said. “Sometimes, during the fall, it’s not light enough for us to work at 7am. I don’t enjoy adjusting my schedule with the hour change either, but it helps our business.”

Chu said he’s already garnered support from multiple assembly members, but declined to name names. However, he noted, some of the state legislators who support his bill work in the agriculture community themselves.

Other colleagues, Chu said, support the move away from daylight saving time but would ultimately like to see a complete shift away from Pacific Standard Time (PST), to Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). If this were to happen, days would stay light well into the evening, something residents believe would be better for their children and safety on the roads.

“I want to keep summer time, not winter time,” says Julie Dabey, owner of Steepers in downtown Campbell. “It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s dark in the morning, but I think being able to go outside in the evening and enjoy the fresh air would be more enjoyable.”

Chris Wondolowski, star and captain of the San Jose Earthquakes, told Metro after Sunday evening’s game that he too would appreciate more light into the evenings.

“I like sunlight, and anyway we can get more sunlight would be great,” he said after the team’s 2-1 victory over the visiting Portland Timbers.

Perhaps the loudest argument in favor of Chu’s push to eliminate daylight saving time came from his senior constituents, who opined that the shift affects their medicine schedules. According to a 2014 research study authored by the news agency Reuters, an hour of sleep lost because of time changes can increase the odds of suffering a heart attack by 25 percent.

A laundry list of university studies make a compelling argument in favor of the elimination—between 1986 and 1995, fatal traffic accidents rose 17 percent on the Monday following the time switch, according to the University of Colorado. A 2006 report found daylight saving time led to a 1 percent overall rise in residential electricity use in Indiana, costing the state an extra $9 million. Perhaps coincidentally, 2006 was the same year the state implemented the use of daylight saving time. From 1983-2006, there was a 68 percent increase in lost working days due to workplace injury on the Monday following the time change.

Chu said he became aware of these facts and others during his research to put the bill together, and he’s now more sure than ever that doing away with the century-old tradition is better for the general health of the public.

“We’re trying to eliminate some potential health hazards from the populace,” he said. “Should the voters ultimately approve this, we wouldn’t be taking away sunlight from anybody. The hazard of having to change your clock, and your schedule, is what everyone stands to gain.”

David Barclay is a freelance writer and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. He can be reached at [email protected]

24 Comments

  1. Personally, I would like to see our time fixed at DST. Many proficiency experts would agree that the most productive time for employees is between 9:00 am and 2:00pm. I, for one, have to agree with that. Yet, now that many of us take work home from the office, there is an additional amount of productive time added after dinner when we enjoy light later into the evening.

    Extended light gives most people the perception of a longer day. We could use that extra light-time in the Winter, as opposed to the Summer when most people take vacations.

    If you can’t milk a cow in the dark, you have no business being a farmer. But, since most of us function more effectively by the light of the day more readily than by the glow of a computer screen, let’s not futz with the natural light.

    • I haven’t kept up with Kansens time in assembly, but his time on council was very productive. He was (still is) a very fair, unbiased leader.

      I agree with him 100% on this. DST is an outmoded concept that was needed back when we lit our houses with oil. There’s been studied done that link a spike in heart attacks with the change.

    • This issue does matter. Maybe not to you but it certainly matters to me. I’d like to see DST end. BTW, politicians can work on more than one issue.

      • In response to christinafatima, the world is both a selfish and selfless place. When I vote it is not a consensus, at points in our lives we have to rise above popular opinion and make hard choices that occasionally leave people behind.

        Will the clock situation change my world, unlikely. Will you consider people selfish first before selfless, again, unlikely.

      • I spent a month on the Osa peninsula in Costa Rica. That area is about 100 miles north of the equator. Every day was 5 to 5. It was dark at 5:00 pm and light at 5:00 am. It took about a week before I was out like a light by 9 or 10, and wide awake by 5 in the morning. While it became both a comfortable and functional way of life for me, I was on vacation without responsibility or time constraints.

        Stock markets and politics are 24-7. Set your own watch and make it clear to others your hours of operation, or, simply find the clock/job that meets you needs.

        The single wonderful thing about humans, we are adaptable. We survive on glaciers and in deserts. We are both nocturnal and diurnal. We can eat damn near anything and survive.

        Next time I climb down from a mountain I hope it is in the strong light of day. When I finally hit the camp site and my sleeping bag, I pray for a setting Sun and a rising moon. In my mind, that makes for a happy camper.

        I gave up my watch five years ago. I still have respect for a calendar. If I say Tuesday, you can be guaranteed I will show up on Tuesday. If I said morning, it will be before noon.

        If I say soon–that means never. If I say later–that too likely means never.

        Let senator Chu set his own watch. I set mine a few years ago for much, much later.

      • This article needs a better explanation.

        DST does not add daylight during Summer hours. To revert to standard time in the Fall does not reduce daily sunlight.

        To understand this better, simply go to Arizona’s (no DST) weather web sight and check out the average daylight year round. The amount of daylight is standard as a result of the Sun’s juxtaposition in the sky and is the same year round depending on what hemisphere in which you live. It doesn’t matter what your clock says.

        At 38º latitude North (Bay Area) you will get approximately 12.5 hours of sunlight per day in the Summer and approximately 9.5 hours of sunlight in the Winter. At the equator it is pretty much a 12 hour sunlit day 24/7/365.

        At 38º South of the equator (Chili) the seasonal changes/sunlight would be polar opposites.

        No matter what you do with your clock, your exposure to daylight does not change, depending where you live on the planet.

        If you are indeed a slave to your watch, these biannual adjustments can be dramatic. I, for one, get much more accomplished after 5:00 pm in the Summertime than I do in the Winter. Physiologically we associate darkness with the end of a day and subsequently hunker down for the night.

        The fact that we can artificially add an hour of sunlight to our days by simply avoiding a fall back to standard time in November seems almost a moot point.

        For me keeping Daylight Savings Time is a no-brainer.

        If I could give you a theoretical hour of sunlight a day, would you rather walk in the park or stumble in the dark?

  2. I think falling BACK to standard time in the fall and staying there permanently is a giant step BACK. We would be 4 hours behind the east coast because the people from New York to Boston will never settle for being on permanent standard time. Having lived in the northeast most of my life, I know that summer time (which is Daylight time, NOT Standard time) is just about the unanimous preference. Many people who vote for ditching daylight saving time don’t realize they are voting to adopt the winter time year round. They think standard time is the time we have most of the year while it is really only the four months around winter, or they think daylight saving means the switching back and forth.

    I would love to join Arizona in not changing the clocks, but we should observe the same time they do there, as the sun rises and sets in Phoenix only 10 to 40 minutes before here in California depending on which part of CA. It makes much more sense for it to be light out at 8pm rather than 4:30am.

    Let’s extend DAYLIGHT TIME from 8 months to 12 please!

  3. I agree that the spring time change is a pain in the butt. The fall time change is not as bad because you have an “extra” hour. The solution is to remain on DST all year, otherwise you have the absurd sunrise at 4:30 during the summer and it gets dark starting around 6:30. Let’s get rid of “standard” time altogether.

  4. Well I think this is all just ridiculous, it time we stand up to the world and give it the finger.
    Lets show them that we in California should lead the world in new progressive ideas.

    Lets split the time zone in half and follow the center of the world North Korea.
    This will put a happy face on early risers and late workers alike no one gets what they want but we all get screwed the same.

    This will create confusion in Washington DC, not that Washington isn’t confused all ready but will make it more so,
    Perfect !

    Try this!

    It’s 2pm in DC what time is it in California is it, 11 plus one half or minus one half ?
    I don’t know Mr. President it depends on weather we are on DLS. or ST.
    Didn’t congress just fix that a few years ago?

    Well they changed it Mrs. President.
    Then California became part of North Korea and they are on half time now.

    Well if they are part of North Korea Why are we calling them?
    I don’t know Mr. President, things keep changing we just want to find out what time it is in California.
    Oh I see I think?

    Why don’t we just split all the country up into half time zone’s.
    I don’t know Mrs. President.

    Would it make it any easier to keep track of Bill?

    Try this!

    Perhaps we should think about changing time itself, lets make the day 36 hours long, each hour will be 40 minutes long.
    Perfect for school classes and over time. Unions will love it and we can screw corporate America while calming to be helping them.

    Overtime will start at the end of 8 hours if the send you home you have worked less time 160 minutes for the same pay.
    if they make you work the missing 2.66 hours you get 2.66 hours overtime until corporate lobbyist get congress to.
    Then maybe we should pay you by the minute.
    We will then all know exactly what a minute of your time is worth!
    You can then send it to me.

    Happy Saint Patty Day

  5. I fully support Assemblymember Chu in this. This artificially induced time change is stressful on people in many ways, both conscious and unconscious. And I don’t agree that a permanent DST is a good idea, for “productivity” or whatever. For all the people who like the extra daylight in the evening, there are presumably just as many who prefer the extra daylight in the morning. Furthermore, the light in the morning is a much more natural inducer of wakefulness, at the time when most people need to be waking up anyway. I believe that starting the day to the natural morning light, after a restful night’s sleep, is just as helpful — and probably more so — to one’s productivity than having a forced extra hour at the end of the workday. Standard time all the way!

  6. I think we should keep DST as the permanent time. Having more light at the end of the day helps people who commute by bike, public transit, or walk. It also helps with light for after school programs and activities.

  7. A permanent DST would be my preference. We really don’t need to artificially shorten daylight in the Winter, it it already the shortest daylight to begin with.

    I agree, changing the clocks shouldn’t happen at all. There are already millions of people like myself with sleeping disorders and clock adjustments twice a year just exacerbate the issue.

    I say we pass this bill tomorrow so we do not adjust the clocks November 2016.

  8. bottom line, whichever way we vote, we do not want our children walking to school in the dark.

  9. Criminals love it when it gets dark. Darkness is their cover. I would bet that crime decreases when there is an extra hour of daylight. Permanent DST is my preference.

  10. One legislator tried to pass a similar bill in Florida (which failed in committee) and he told me that the constituent’s letters in favor of keeping Daylight Saving Time were mostly for selfish reasons like “I can walk my dog” or “I can go jogging” when I get back from work. Where people in favor of eliminating Daylight Saving Time had reasons like “my children have to walk to school in the dark” or “studies have proven that there are more accidents overall.” Things that make you go hmm…

  11. This time changes can really screw with peoples biological clock and can take a couple of weeks to get used to. It’s really a hassle for people that are on Medication.

    The solution would be to go back 1/2 hr during the fall cycle. That way we have a happy median.

  12. Seriously? How can anyone will two brain cells think that NOT messing with the clock will give them less daylight in the summer? The earth WILL CONTINUE TO ROTATE ON ITS AXIS AT THE SAME EXACT SPEED as it ever did. LMAO!! NUTS…a bunch of nuts. “Recreation” is not a compelling reason to keep on with this clock manipulation. If the employers want to change THEIR work times to suit the natural passage of the earth through the seasons, then do THAT. Daylight “SAVINGS” Time should never have been given that misnomer…because sadly too many people believe it.

    • One year back in the “energy crisis” of the ’70s we kept DST in place all year. Didn’t really help anything as it just shifted the clocks so that sure it stayed light later in the evening which was kind of nice but it stayed dark so late in the morning that many kids wound up walking to school in the dark, especially those who resided in the extreme western side of their time zone. Not a problem these days though since most children are chauffeured to school anyway.

  13. With long workdays, and inflexible employers, it is really nice to not be driving home after work in the dark. For those who are having such difficulty with changing the clock by an hour twice a year, how do you ever survive a trip to the East Coast, Hawaii ? Trips to Asia or Europe must leave you bed-ridden … Springing forward is a manageable inconvenience to gain the benefit of daylight in the evenings.