Street Lighting District assessment unchanged

The annual assessment for properties in Zone A of the San Diego County Street Lighting District will remain at $13.50 per equivalent dwelling unit.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 June 28 to approve the engineer’s report and set a July 19 hearing date for the rates, and on July 19 the county supervisors voted 5-0 to adopt the 2017-18 assessment.

“The county’s Street Lighting District maintains over 10,000 street lights in unincorporated San Diego and has sufficient funding this year,” said Supervisor Bill Horn. “There is no need to raise rates, which is always good news.”

The county’s Department of Public Works, which operates the street lighting district, has adopted a policy of slight annual increases to keep pace with energy costs rather than a large increase, which was the case in 2004.

Stabilized energy, labor, and material costs had allowed the assessment to remain unchanged at $6.48 per equivalent dwelling unit between 2008 and 2015, but increased energy prices caused the 2016 assessment increase and that also allowed for the completion of a phased retrofit of high-pressure sodium street lights to more energy-efficient light-emitting diode bulbs.

The San Diego County Street Lighting District was formed in September 1987. The district itself includes the entirety of unincorporated San Diego County; Zone A covers parcels which benefit from street lights in the district while Zone B consists of the remainder of the district. The district maintains and operates 10,357 street lights, including approximately 3,680 which are owned by San Diego Gas & Electric, in residential areas and along major roadways.

Zone A covers more than 100,000 benefit units and 200,000 customers. In 1987 voters approved an assessment rate of up to $25.00 per year per benefit unit, with a single-family home equating to one benefit unit. The other maximum approved assessments are $850 per acre for commercial property, $150 per acre for institutional buildings, $50.00 per acre for industrial land, $25 per acre for recreational parcels, and $2.50 per acre for farm land.

The assessment was reduced from $23 to $2.50 per benefit unit in 1990 and stayed at $2.50 until 2004, when rising energy costs and a state budget shift from special districts did not allow efficiency to offset the additional expenses. The assessment per benefit unit was increased to $5.33 for Fiscal Year 2004-05, $5.60 for 2005-06, $5.88 for 2006-07, $6.17 for 2007-08, and $6.48 for 2008-09.

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