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Old Street Lights Get a New Lease on Life

February 11, 1988|DOUG SMITH | Times Staff Writer

A city project to scrap about 170 period lampposts in three areas of Silver Lake and Los Feliz has been canceled after residents complained that the taller, sleeker replacements wouldn't look right in their older neighborhoods.

Councilman Michael Woo said last Friday that the results of a community survey led him to halt removal of the ornamental 1920s-style lamps. They would have been replaced by a new style lamp, called the cobra head luminaire, consisting of a 30-foot-tall masonry standard with a large reflector suspended on a 4-foot perpendicular arm.

Woo spokesman Bill Chandler said the councilman plans to introduce a motion later this month asking the city's Bureau of Street Maintenance to investigate how the existing lights can be refurbished or replaced with something more suitable.

'Must Be a Way'

"There must be a way to make lights that are closer to the ground and fit in with the historical nature of the area," Chandler said.

However, a city lighting engineer said it could cost 10 to 20 times more to refurbish the old lampposts than to replace them.

"It's like making the city buy a Cadillac when it could have got by with a Nissan just because somebody wanted to maintain an old system," said David Leatherman, engineer with the Bureau of Street Lighting.

"The policy is to put in a modern system. That's a council-adopted policy."

Each new lamp costs from $2,000 to $2,400 to install.

Leatherman said the bureau proposed the replacements because of frequent breakdowns and high maintenance costs. Lamppost standards, foundations, electrical wiring and conduits have been deterioriating.

Before starting work, the bureau sought Woo's endorsement of the project, Leatherman said.

Woo mailed a survey to about 2,000 residents in the areas. Of some 300 who replied, about 130 opposed the replacement and the rest had no opinion, Chandler said.

In spite of the opposition, however, the councilman agreed to the replacement of about 80 badly deteriorating lights on Silver Lake Boulevard from Glendale Boulevard to Reservoir Street, Leatherman said.

The portions of the project he halted included about 100 lights, installed in 1921, on the residential streets between Los Feliz Boulevard and Franklin Avenue from Vermont Avenue to Normandy Avenue; 20 lights, installed in 1922, between Los Feliz and Franklin on Hobart, Oxford and Serrano avenues, and 50 lights, installed in 1926, in the area of Ben Lomond Drive, south of Los Feliz at Rowena Avenue.

Those lights already had been converted from their original incandescent bulbs to low-energy sodium lights, Leatherman said.

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