Buellton City Council is scheduled to decide Thursday whether to approve a $360,000 budget adjustment so the installation of decorative street lights can proceed along most of Industrial Way, a project the city has been pursuing for at least five years.

Also at the meeting set for 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 140 W. Highway 246, the council will consider final approval of an ordinance amendment to align the City Code with new state regulations for developing secondary housing.

People have been asking for street lights on Industrial Way ever since wine and beer tasting rooms, restaurants and other businesses that are open after 5 p.m. began proliferating on the street.

Business owners and their patrons complained the lack of street lights make it hazardous to walk at night along the street where the buildings and trees produce deep, dark shadows.

Then in 2014, the city embarked on a slow road toward getting them installed.

At that time, the city wanted Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to install, own and maintain the lights, but under that condition, the only style of LED lights available were modern “cobra” lights.

Decorative lights could be used but only if the city installed and maintained them, and the City Council chose not to pursue that option.

In 2016, PG&E said due to the power source location and utilities conflicts, the lights would only be installed on the west side, and the company began obtaining easements to access the power source at the south end of the street.

At that time, the council also decided against using the cobra lights, looking to provide an ambiance more conducive to pedestrians, and asked staff to look into installing 100-watt LED decorative lights.

In 2017, the council learned the $200,000 cost for the fixtures was rising to $300,000, because in addition to the 20 street lights planned for the west side of Industrial Way, another 10 fixtures would be needed to illuminate the sidewalks installed along half the east side of the street.

In 2018, council members chose to go with downward-facing Memphis-style decorative heads to comply with “dark sky” standards for avoiding light pollution.

The Memphis pendants would be mounted on a Charleston-style pole, and according to a lighting plan included in the Thursday meeting packet, each pole will have two of them mounted at the ends of a single crosspiece.

In July this year, the staff received an estimate from PG&E for a total construction cost of $707,000, of which the city would be required to pay $360,000 up-front for the company’s work.

The city would be responsible for the remaining $370,000, which would include trenching and conduits.

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According to a staff report from Public Works Director Rose Hess, $82,500 was appropriated in the 2019-20 fiscal year budget for design work, and $350,000 for construction and $50,000 for project management were set aside in the 2020-21 budget.

The budget adjustment will be needed to cover the full $707,000 estimated cost of the project, Hess said.

She noted the council might want to pull the 2020-21 allocation into the 2019-20 budget, which would allow the staff to finalize the plans and specifications and put the project out to bid in early 2020.

That could result in construction getting underway next year.

Hess is also providing the council with some basic information on forming a street lighting district, which could help pay for the cost of the project should the council decide to go that route.

For more information about the project and plans, visit www.cityofbuellton.com.

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News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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