The Coast News Group

RDO homeowners decide whether to replace streetlights

OCEANSIDE — This week Rancho Del Oro (RDO) homeowners will vote on whether to establish a street lighting assessment district to self-fund replacement of hundreds of downed streetlights. The vote comes just after 38 more rusted streetlights were removed bringing the count to 209.

The decorative metal streetlights were privately installed in the 1980s when homes were built, and maintained by city in the same way as other lights.

They began rusting beyond repair due to how they were installed and because they were not weatherized, which is not required of stock concrete streetlights in other parts of the city.

The city and RDO Home Owner Association (HMO) have been at odds on how to resolve the safety concern of rusted out streetlights for over a decade. Initially the city offered to pay half the replacement costs.

The HOA filed a lawsuit against the city, charging the city with the obligation to replace the lights.

The lawsuit was dismissed and it was determined the city is not responsible to provide more maintenance than electricity and lightbulbs.

The city continues to seek a middle ground with the HOA. The final offer is to create an assessment district to fund replacement.

At this point about a third of the lights have been taken down. The city will continue to remove lights that become unsafe.

If homeowners opt for an assessment district initial replacement of lights will cost each homeowner $528, and an annual maintenance fee of $33.

Former councilman Gary Feline is a homeowner in the neighborhood. He said the damaged lights are effecting some blocks more than others.

On his street lights are intact. Other streets are dark.

He said there has not been any campaigning for or against an assessment district. He said some homeowners might find it more affordable to install lights on their property than pay the assessment fee.

“The short answer is if it stays as is the city takes away lights as they fall apart and residents make due,” Feline said.

The city determined the cost to replace all 669 streetlights is $2.6 million. If an assessment district is formed the city would fund $740k.

The remaining $1.8 million would be paid by RDO property owners.

Council unanimously voted to count the homeowner votes and implement the decision on Feb 17.

The votes will be counted by the City Clerk’s office Feb. 18, and council will continue the public hearing March 2.