We take a lot for granted living in a city and working street lights may fall into that category. It's one of those things you don't miss until they go out.
"We love our street lights. This is the character of the neighborhood," resident Carl Wendorf said. Wendorf has lived in the Rockridge Terrace neighborhood of San Francisco since the year 2000. The ornate street lights that line his neighborhood near Laguna Honda Hospital give the area its charm and a sense of history. "There's a quarry behind our homes here that a lot of the rocks had come from to build areas in our gardens and to build the street lights we have on our street," Wendorf said. The rock quarry on Knockash Hill operated in the city from the late 1800s until 1965.
Wendorf says the trouble started when just one light went out in late December. "The light was replaced and it went out again. The very same light went out and then after they replaced that light, the light on the corner down here went out," he recalled.
PG&E says eventually a third light went out and then a whole lot more. "These older streetlight circuits are a certain type and it's like a giant string of Christmas lights," explained Joe Molica with PG&E. "When one goes out, they all go out and it's extremely frustrating for us and unfortunately for the neighbors."
At one point, 68 lights in the entire neighborhood went dark. The only light on the streets at night came from porch lights neighbors left on to protect themselves. "We've got people that are elderly in the neighborhood. We've got people with kids and out walking their pets, and it's pitch black and you know, people don't feel safe," Wendorf said.
Especially frustrating for Carl was what he considered a lack of information from PG&E. "It's very frustrating. It can be a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack to try to pinpoint the problem getting it fixed," Molina said. PG&E says it moved as quickly as possible to fix the problem, but unfortunately for Wendorf, the utility says the lights on his street were especially hard to fix.
Wendorf called 7 On Your Side. We contacted PG&E and the lights went back on shortly after. "It's great to have the lights back on. You really don't realize how important they are until you are left in the black," he said laughingly.
PG&E says it will overhaul the lights this summer and put in an entirely new circuit. The utility promised Wendorf's neighborhood will be the first to get the repairs.