'Light Up Excelsior' Campaign Looks Bright

Anthony Myers
The Ingleside Light

SAN FRANCISCO (N21) - After a brief but concentrated lobbying effort by local activists, PG&E has agreed to increase the wattage on streetlights along Persia Avenue starting in June.

Increasing the output from 100 to 150 watts should help the light penetrate the canopy of elm trees that co-mingle with the light poles.

“I don’t see any speed bumps at all,” PG&E spokesman Matt Herron said, referring to assigning work crews for the area.

Since PG&E owns the poles and the city Public Utilities Commission pays the light bills, the Excelsior Action Group pulled together representatives of both agencies to work out a solution on May 26.

That was good news to May Ling, who helped coordinate the "Light up the Excelsior" campaign. She felt that the poor lighting in some areas may encourage would-be criminals to operate in the neighborhood. Excelsior had the first murder in the city this year. “We don’t need that kind of distinction,” Ling said.

The campaign began with some public safety meetings back in November. Then in April, 10 volunteers canvassed Persia Avenue residents to ask them to leave their porch lights on.

“We knocked on doors, giving free CFL blubs to our neighbors that responded to our survey,” Ling said. The survey was simply asking if they would be ok with upping the wattage. “The final tally from our walk was three ‘no’ and 49 ‘yes’ out of approximately 100 households.”

PG&E owns the majority of streetlights in San Francisco, but the PUC owns a little over 10,000.

At the recent meeting, PUC representative Roman Muros Jr. reported that Mission Street would be one of the first to get new LED streetlights to replace the old high-pressure sodium lights.

The LED’s give off a whiter light than the yellow-tinted sodiums. The LED’s are also 50 percent more energy efficient.

The commission is replacing all their sodium bulbs over the next two years. PG&E currently has no plans for any such changes.