High-Pressure Lights Out for Welk Village--SDG

Times Staff Writer

San Diego County supervisors on Wednesday left the door open for the installation of high-pressure sodium vapor street lights in the newest phase of Lawrence Welk Village near Escondido. But San Diego Gas & Electric Co. officials just as quickly slammed that door shut.

William Daiber, lighting services supervisor for SDG&E;, said the company will install only yellow-hued, low-pressure street lights in the village, despite a loophole in the county’s lighting ordinance that would have allowed the utility to install the high-pressure lights wanted by the village’s developer.

“The intent of the ordinance was proper,” Daiber said. “We will only install low-pressure lights.”

Daiber’s comments came after the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to bow out of the dispute over whether the Welk village could use the high-pressure lights, which were all but banned in unincorporated areas last year in an attempt to preserve the nighttime darkness for astronomers at observatories atop Mt. Palomar and Mt. Laguna.

After hearing from the county’s staff, the board agreed that lighting systems owned and operated by SDG&E--the; kind used by the village--were exempted from the county ordinance because of a loophole that the board intends to close soon. That action left to SDG&E; the final decision on which lights to install at the village.


Despite Daiber’s comments to The Times, Robert Dias, general manager of Lawrence Welk Village, said the issue was far from resolved. “It’s still an open question. We’re meeting with SDG&E; tomorrow,” he said.

In a Sept. 13 letter to County Supervisor Paul Eckert, who has supported the village’s request for brighter lights, Dias wrote that the installation of low-pressure lights would “bring a revolution from our residents.”

To install the lights at the recommended height of 26 feet would require the village to cut down giant oak trees that would block their glow. The village wants to place the high-pressure lights on 15-foot-high standards, he said.

“To mix the two different qualities of light emitted from the high- and low-pressure sodium vapor street lighting would cause a serious problem to our older residents,” Dias said in the letter.