Broken streetlights can be tricky in Alamo | March 28, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - March 28, 2008

Broken streetlights can be tricky in Alamo

Responsibility falls to county, PG&E or homeowners groups

by Natalie O'Neill

It's tough to get broken streetlights fixed in Alamo, agree residents and officials.

Two out of five broken streetlights on Stone Valley Road near the intersection of High Eagle Drive were just fixed - after more than a year of being out. But three still remain out and residents say it's unacceptable on the busy street.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's a safety issue," said Alamo resident Nadeem Tahir. In the winter, the stretch of road is dark during morning and evening rush hour, he said.

There's a reason the lights have taken a long time to be fixed. In the unincorporated area, repairing street lights could be the responsibility of one of three different groups: PG&E, the county or nearby homeowners associations.

It's tricky finding out which lights belong to whom. As the system is set up, the only way to track down who is responsible for a light is to obtain a serial number from the light post. Residents with complaints must do this before the county - or anyone else - can solve the problem. The pole numbers are in the form of white stickers and are roughly 8 feet off the ground.

"The key is to get that number," said Tomi Van de Brooke, Chief of Staff for District 3 Supervisor Mary N. Piepho.

Light poles are not organized geographically or kept track of by community groups.

"It's not that clean," Van de Brooke said.

The two lights that were recently fixed were the county's turf. County staff worked with PG&E to get the lights back on, according to District 3 South County Field Representative Gina Ferretti.

The remaining three burnt out lights belong to the Alamo Highlands Homeowners Association, Ferretti said, which governs a group of houses about half a mile from the intersection of Danville Boulevard on Stone Valley Road.

Property manager for the HOA did not return calls by press time to comment on whether they plan to fix the remaining lights.

It doesn't make sense for an HOA to be responsible for lights on a major street, Tahir said.

"I am totally amazed and find this completely ridiculous," he wrote in a recent letter to the county. "This is an abdication by the county of its responsibilities."

Alicia Watson, Alamo Landscape and Lighting Committee chairwoman, said she wasn't aware of the lights being out. No residents have showed up at the meetings to voice concerns about the street being too dark, she said.

The Alamo Landscape and Lighting Committee meets once a month at 12:30 p.m. at Hap Magee Ranch Park. Meeting schedules are available at Issues like this are the group's territory.

But Tahir noted that community meeting times in the middle of the day aren't convenient for Alamo residents. Work kept him from voicing frustration at the meeting, he said.

"If you're not retired, a kid or a housewife you can't go to the meeting," he said.

Tahir moved to Alamo from Maryland about a year ago and noticed the lights out back then. He contacted the county and was upset to find it was his responsibility to get the numbers on the light posts in order to file a complaint.

"As a citizen, it's not my job," he said. "We are paying a lot of money in taxes. I don't know where it's going."

Once the number is obtained, in most cases, the streetlights can be fixed pretty easily, Van de Brooke said.

Residents with a pole number can report a broken or burnt out streetlight on the PG&E Web site by visiting