Plan to Fix Broken Streetlights Goes before Rules Committee

Copper wire theft and other problems leave hundreds of streetlights dark, creating a public safety problem in several neighborhoods. But what if the city leases these poles to telecom companies as cell stations to expand their 4G network? Councilmembers Rose Herrera and Sam Liccardo proposed the idea, saying the lights get fixed, courtesy of Philips, and San Jose receives better cell phone service while residents aren’t left in the dark.

The pair’s memo goes before the Rules and Open Government Committee on Wednesday.

In San Jose, 241 wire thefts left 941 lights dark for months on end. The backlog continues to grow, Herrera and Liccardo say.

“Often, when we’re up to our ears in alligators, the last thing we consider is draining the swamp,” they write. “Although we need to devote resources to repairing streetlights, we might more easily simply replace the existing poles with more secure streetlights in some neighborhoods.”

The idea is to let Philips foot the bill.

“Through a public-private partnership, they ultimately seek a long-term lease concession for street lighting poles that that allows the companies to generate revenue through cellular site rental services to telecom providers,” the memo reads.

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for December 11, 2013:

• Mayoral candidate and ex-city employee David Wall believes the city should adopt all recommendations handed down from its internal auditor.

“The fact that city department heads can either defer implementation or even refuse to implement the recommendations of the auditor is disturbing and initiates the wasting of taxpayer monies on several levels,” Wall writes.

• An Alviso resident expresses her disapproval of the Trammel Crow Co. project, a plan to erect a 250,000-square-foot manufacturing building on 57 acres of bare land. The Biz Journal covered the issue a couple months ago.

• The St. James Park Neighborhood Association wants the city to go ahead and place a music pavilion in the blight-afflicted park. Live music will drive out the riffraff, they say.

“We who live near the park believe that now is the time for a disruptive change to occur,” the group wrote. “St. James … is a historic jewel that has too long been overlooked.”

Downtown Councilman Sam Liccardo launched a petition a couple months ago to try to drum up support for the Levitt Pavilion.

Real estate agent Virginia Thomas, however, believes that a music stage would do nothing to displace the drug use, homelessness and trash. Until those problems are addressed, the city should hold off on the pavilion idea, she said.

• Councilman Ash Kalra wants to extend term limits for Housing Advisory Commission board member Jacquie Heffner, to appoint her to a fourth term.

• The city spells out its legislative guiding principles for 2014: protect local control, ensure region’s competitiveness, keep the city safe and promote livability and sustainable development.

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. In regard to street lights, in some cases there are to many. 

    The problem with ‘street’ lights is the light goes to the side and the back, instead of down, and to the front.  The current design results in light pollution in residential backyards from street lights a street over.  The city needs to place shields on these lights that prevents the light from going backwards into residents yards.  Keep the lights on the street, and the sidewalk.

  2. Copper theft or vandalism results in expensive repairs of City property.  So the logical thing to do is outsource?!?  Now, which underfunded City department is responsible for preventing and enforcing laws again?  The Police Department, or Philips? These Council persons are borderline ridiculous.  Their actions have caused so many unintended consequences and yet there’s still no admission of wrongdoing nor a plan of any substance to fix it.  Outsourcing is a buzzword that uninformed voters equate to saving money.  Look at How much less service residents get these days and the enormous costs at WPCP. Look at the failure to retain workers at SJC, WPCP, SJPD.  There certainly is a direct cause/effect and saving money hasn’t happened- so what’s the motivation?  Look at who has prospered as a result of the last few years… Developers, specialized private labor providers and lawyers.  Who has suffered? City workers and residents who already pay very high taxes and are being targeted to pay more.

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