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Street lighting district assessment unchanged

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The annual assessment for properties in Zone A of the San Diego County Street Lighting District will remain at $2 per equivalent dwelling unit.

A 4-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote May 24, with one vacant seat, approved the engineer’s report, adopted a resolution of intention and set a June 28 hearing date for the assessment. The supervisors voted 4-0 June 28 to confirm the assessments.

The San Diego County Street Lighting District was formed in September 1987 and includes the entirety of unincorporated San Diego County. Zone A covers parcels that benefit from street lights in the district while Zone B consists of the remainder of the district. The San Diego County Street Lighting District, which is managed by the county’s Department of Public Works, maintains 10,490 lights in residential areas and along major roadways; the county owns and maintains 6,802 of those while the other 3,688 are owned and maintained by San Diego Gas & Electric. Zone A covers more than 100,000 parcels and more than 135,000 benefit units.

In 1987, voters approved an assessment rate of up to $25 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 per acre for industrial land, $25 per acre for recreational parcels and $2.50 per acre for farmland.

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. Stabilized energy, labor and material costs allowed the assessment to remain unchanged at $6.48 per equivalent dwelling unit from 2008 to 2015.

Increased energy prices and a phased retrofit of street lights from high-pressure sodium bulbs to light emitting diode illumination resulted in the increase to $13.50 per benefit unit for 2016-17. The conversion to LED bulbs began in 2017. The assessment was reduced to $10 for 2020-21 due to the energy savings from the LED bulbs already installed. The retrofit was completed in 2020, and the energy cost savings allowed for an assessment decrease to $7 per equivalent dwelling unit for 2021-22. The energy savings allowed for a decrease to $2 per equivalent dwelling unit for 2022-23.

Retaining the $2 amount will allow the operation and maintenance of streetlights to be funded for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The assessment amount will create total revenue of approximately $275,988. The San Diego County Street Lighting District receives revenue from the base property tax and from interest on reserves as well as from the benefit assessment. The 2023-24 operating budget is $2,480,670. The district will utilize $756,729 of reserves for Fiscal Year 2023-24 but will retain more than $4.6 million in its reserve fund.


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