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Questions and Answers About Your Commute : Street Lighting Not a City Obligation


Dear Traffic Talk:

It is our understanding that the City Council has instructed the Department of Public Works to complete a street-lighting master plan for the city.

I live on Buffalo Avenue, which parallels and is one block east of Woodman Avenue, in Van Nuys. Buffalo has no street lighting whatsoever for two long blocks north of Burbank Boulevard. When we brought this matter to the attention of the Public Works Department, we were sent a petition form and informed that we would have to obtain signatures approving the lights' installation from our neighbors.

What we were aghast to learn, however, was that to get the lights, we would have to pay $1,500 in fees per home, plus $50 in monthly maintenance fees. We are living under very hazardous conditions--we have no sidewalks in a pitch-dark area. The Public Works Department found money to refurbish an existing lighting system in Encino. Why can't it be fair and consider street lights where none exist?

Edith Joachim

Van Nuys

Dear Edith:

The city is not required to provide street lighting to Los Angeles neighborhoods, according to George Eslinger, director of the Bureau of Street Lighting, which is part of the Public Works Department. For that reason, people who want street lights must pay for installation.

The process is much as you describe. Residents who want lighting circulate a petition. If a significant majority of residents sign up and agree to pay the fees, then the bureau presents a proposal to the Los Angeles City Council, which holds a public hearing before a final vote.

There is no legally required percentage of homes that must sign the petition, Eslinger said, but the bureau generally considers 75% to 80% to be satisfactory. In the Encino project that you describe, which I believe is in the hills south of Ventura Boulevard, the residents had to pay to have their worn-out street lights replaced.

One-third of the city has no street lights, according to Eslinger. One final note: The bureau encourages residents to call to report light bulbs that are out or lampposts in need of repair. The telephone number to call is (800) 303-5267.

Dear Traffic Talk:

Recently, Kester Avenue was repaved from the Ventura Freeway to Ventura Boulevard. In relining the street, the left-turn lane to Camarillo Street was removed, leaving a long left-turn lane to Valleyheart Drive.

There are far more cars making left turns into Camarillo than into Valleyheart. Can this situation be corrected?

Ruth Gunther

Sherman Oaks

Dear Ruth:

City transportation engineer Irwin Chodash said that there never was a left-turn lane for northbound Kester motorists wanting to turn left on Camarillo because Kester at Camarillo is too narrow to accommodate a left-turn lane. The only way that the city Department of Transportation could install a left-turn lane there would be to remove parking on both sides of Kester, Chodash said, which it does not want to do because parking is needed in that area.

Kester is wider at Valleyheart, which is why the city was able to put in a left-turn lane there.

Traffic Talk appears Fridays in The Times Valley Edition. Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about traffic in the Valley. Please write to Traffic Talk, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers. Letters may be edited, and no anonymous letters will be accepted. To record your comments, call (818) 772-3303. Fax letters to (818) 772-3385.

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