San Jose City Council Has Bit of a Fight Regarding LED Streetlights

There’s a bit of a light fight in San Jose.

Several years ago, Philips Lighting came to the city with a proposal to swap out low-pressure sodium streetlights for LED bulbs mounted on “SmartPoles.” San Jose wasn’t on the hook to expend any funds, so it partnered with the company in 2013 and set about bringing city streets into the light of the 21st century.

While the project was supposed to save San Jose money, city staff has since concluded that the low-pressure sodium lights were “relatively efficient” and the money saved was negated by project management costs.

Shortly after the program rolled out, other companies interested in working on the project approached San Jose. The city has approximately 64,400 streetlights citywide and the replacement effort has been underway since San Jose approved its Green Vision plan in 2007. More than 39 percent of the city’s inventory, or 24,000 lights, have already been replaced. All of the new LED lights are designed to work with a “smart controller,” and the city expects the project to cost $36.7 million.

In January, city staff recommended awarding a streetlight project to Siemens, the top-ranked RFP (request for proposal). If a pilot project proved successful, staff reported, the city should then enter into a contract.

But before the council was set to hear the agenda item in May, Philips filed a protest to the RFP. The city’s procurement authority reviewed the complaint and found all city policies were followed. Philips appealed the ruling on their appeal, but staff says there is no need to hold a hearing to further consider the matter.

Now the electeds are getting involved.

On Friday, Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilman Don Rocha co-signed a memo asking to defer the streetlight item until next week’s June 13 meeting, so that it can be heard along with the Philips appeal.

Meanwhile, Councilman Johnny Khamis issued his own memo Friday asking for the city to approve the May 22 recommendations from Assistant City Manager David Sykes, but only after making several additions.

Khamis has privacy concerns about the streetlight equipment monitoring residents. He wants to “disable any video capabilities from the LED streetlight controller units that would be directed toward or collect data from any private residence or private property, except with the express, written permission of the resident or property owner, including during the demonstration and testing phase.”

The District 10 council member also suggests staff craft a new RFP for digital signage opportunities.

Outfront Media/AllVision appears to be a top contender, and the city recently received a letter from Jim Scharfberg, the company’s vice president of business development, supporting Allvision’s in-lieu proposal for eight digital billboards on city property that will net approximately $38 million over 25 years.

No mention is made of how much money AllVision would make on those billboards during that time, but the revenue is almost certainly a good deal larger than the bid.

Those who paid attention to the 2016 political fiascos in Santa Clara might remember AllVision.

Other items from the San Jose City Council agenda for June 25, 2017.

  • The city will conduct a public hearing on hiking rates for recycling through 2020. In an effort to cover costs, staff recommends increasing the cost for single-family households by 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent for multi-family households.
  • A boatload of city employee classifications and corresponding pay brackets will be updated.
  • City Manager Norberto Dueñas will finalize a number of appointments to boards and commissions, which include: Airport Commission; Arts Commission; Council Appointment Advisory Commission; Downtown Parking Board; Historic Landmarks Commission; Housing and Community Development Commission; Human Services Commission; Library and Early Education Commission; Parks and Recreation Commission; Senior Citizens Commission; Youth Commission; and retaining Rudy Flores Jr. on the District 9 Parks and Recreation Commission Appointment.

Josh Koehn is the managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

9 Comments

  1. It is unclear to me why Phillips is appealing. “Phillips appealed the ruling on their appeal,….” Ah…. what? Do they want more money?

  2. If you are unlucky enough to have one of these LED streetlights outside your bedroom window, invest in some blackout curtains or ot make keep you awake all night, that is all I have to say.

  3. I’m sorry Mr Koehn,
    I’m not quite getting what you are inferring here. Do smart lites have cameras in them that are spying on us? Does the project cost to much? Are the sodium light cheaper to run versus the initial cost of the LED’s.
    Or did someone in city hall get a nice payday from one or both of these company.

    I see smoke but it looks like it’s coming from the homeless encampment under the light.

  4. Khamis has privacy concerns about the streetlight equipment monitoring residents. He wants to “disable any video capabilities from the LED streetlight controller units that would be directed toward or collect data from any private residence or private property, except with the express, written permission of the resident or property owner, including during the demonstration and testing phase.”

    Here lies the problem. Khamis and the mayor do not like each other and are on a collision course for a power grab. The city wants to tell homeowners to send in videos of crimes but Khamis does not want to collect any potential videos of criminal activity. If you are a law abiding citizen I could care less if I am watched walking or driving by. And more power if it covers my front yard.

    • > If you are a law abiding citizen I could care less if I am watched walking or driving by.

      How about if you’re a law abiding TV personality and Alinsky-ite activists decide to use “public” video data to identity your business associates and target them for harassment and bullying?

    • Oh well of course the people are the criminals in a socialist society, Big Brother must watch you. In this area the criminals run the streets all day and night. We give the cops camera footage when something happens, and they take a report. Unless someone is bleeding, haven’t cought any one lately.

      Now we know how Trump must feel !

  5. By the way: The city will conduct a public hearing on hiking rates for recycling through 2020. If the city wants to raise this cost on those that separate trash then just throw it all in the garbage and the heck with recycling.

  6. More importantly, check out the boatload or directors slated for wage increases ro their already lucrative salaries….what about line staff?

Leave a Reply