"You can see how it just blinded me in my eyes," Alezz Laielen says as she points to the bright light coming from a street light on her otherwise dark block on a San Rafael hilltop.
Laielen says the LED light on her block was installed in December and she now wears sunglasses during her evening walks to protect her eyes from the light. "I was really upset. I was upset because I love the night," she said.
Laielen and about 100 other San Rafael residents have complained to the city about how bright and white the LED lights are compared to the dimmer yellow light cast by the old high-pressure sodium street lights.
Can you see the difference? New LED lights go up all over San Rafael and not all the residents think it's such a bright idea...more at 11 💡 pic.twitter.com/2N3gzt0AeY— Kate Larsen (@KateABC7) January 26, 2018
"The neighbors are noticing the difference," says Bill Guerin, the director of public works in San Rafael. Guerin says the city took out an $800,000 low-interest loan to pay for 2,700 new LED street lights. So far, 2,400 of the new lights have been installed.
Guerin says the LED lights are expected to save $175,000 in yearly electrical costs.
Guerin says contractors hired by PG&E to install the lights will visit every light that residents complain about and look for a fix, which could be a dimmer or a light shield. "If a light is shining back from the street light to someone's house, putting a shield behind the light will block that light from going to the residence," he said.
But not everyone thinks the LED lights are a bad idea. One of Laielen's nieghbors, who did not want to be named, feels the LED lights will make their neighborhood safer. "I think they're good, I think they're safe! This is neighborhood is far too dark, we've had trouble with robberies, break-ins, break-ins into the mailboxes. They're not that significantly more bright than the old lights," the neighbor said.