Agencies won’t let resident see the light |

Agencies won’t let resident see the light

Susan Wood

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Citing safety concerns, South Lake Tahoe resident Steve Costanza would like to have a street light installed on the utility pole next to his home.

Steve Costanza’s quest to have a street light installed near his home on Brian Avenue has kept him in the dark.

The 17-year South Lake Tahoe resident found out the city doesn’t put up lights, and Sierra Pacific Power stopped doing it a few years ago because the lights the utility company once used don’t meet requirements.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency ordinance and design guidelines adopted by El Dorado County require the lights be hooded, pointed in a downward direction and “shall not negatively impact adjacent properties.”

“That’s important for people to see the night skies. That’s what we found during our Pathway 2007 process,” TRPA spokeswoman Julie Regan said Tuesday of the major planning document for the lake’s future.

If the light is on a scenic corridor, it must be dark green – like the ones recently installed on Ski Run Boulevard by the business improvement district.

City code also mandates the lights be durable and illuminate the street at a consistent level.

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Sierra Pacific officials said the last street light was installed by the Reno electricity purveyor two years ago.

“We continue to work with the city and county, but we’ve been unable to find one that meets those local standards,” Sierra Pacific’s spokeswoman Faye Andersen said Tuesday.

“It seems funny that all of sudden there’s a gap in services,” Costanza questioned, while standing next to the pole where he wants a light to shine on the street. “It’s really a safety issue.”

The street, near the corner of Keller Road and Pioneer Trail, is dark.

Out of 15 households on his street’s block, five have children. Many play in the street, which has turned into a shortcut for motorists trying to dodge Highway 50 traffic jams west of the Village Center and Heavenly Village.

Moreover, a bear that visits the next-door rental’s trash may pose a neighborhood safety hazard, he said. Costanza has encountered the black bear several times and fears he’ll get too close to the animal in the dark.

“And that neighbor has had his car stolen,” he said, pointing down the street. “I think the light would solve a lot of issues.”

The closest street lights to Brian Avenue, near Stateline, are located on Larch Avenue and Pioneer Trail.

City engineer Jason Dukes said Costanza has a few options if he insists on having a light. But it could be expensive and time consuming.

The citizen would have to apply for an encroachment permit to use the city’s public right-of-way and secure his own source of electricity. Free-standing street lights can cost between $2,000 and $6,000.