Letter from the Chair

In its role as an advocate for the protection and preservation of Altadena, Heritage Board and committee members often spend time communicating with LA County officials, agencies, and utilities (Supervisor’s Office, LA County Public Works, Southern California Edison, etc.). It is a big part of the work we do that isn’t always apparent, and sometimes done in collaboration with other community groups. The most recent example is the issue of street lighting. So, instead of the usual “Letter from the Chair,” I want to dedicate this space to print the letter that a group of coalition members, led by Heritage, recently sent to our 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger. It is about the conversion of Altadena’s Street lights to LEDs, an issue we have been covering in this newsletter for a few years. As a result, community representatives recently had two virtual meetings with the County staff responsible for street lights and streetlight policies. The letter below spells out concerns of the Coalition and recommends a master plan and standards to protect Altadena’s night lighting for decades to come.

September 26th, 2021

Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County Supervisor, District 5
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
Dear Supervisor Barger, 

We, the coalition of 11 Altadena groups below, appreciate your support for Altadena, that the Department of Public Works has elected to postpone the conversion of streetlights in Altadena, and that LED lighting will not be above 2700K. Your letter indicates to us that we might channel further comments through the Altadena Town Council, which the county will keep informed “as a courtesy.” However, as a group that put in two years of effort into understanding and communicating with DPW and SoCal Edison about this important issue, we would like a coalition representative to have a seat at the table in further discussions, and in creating a master plan for Altadena’s street lighting. Going only through the Town Council, which as a body had very little direct involvement in studying street lighting, does not best serve our community’s interests. We are also perplexed why there is no commitment in your letter to an Altadena master plan that would clearly lay out our future nighttime lighting. We have requested this since our first meeting with DPW, and have yet to receive any assurance that this is part of DPW’s plan. Please respond to us on this specific issue. Because without a master plan, how are we as a community to assess what we will be getting?  Things like the number and type of lights, whether lamps with be coated or diffused or dimmable? We can’t measure/compare how much total energy or money will be saved with the new lighting. These facts should be knowable, quantifiable, and public.   

We are further concerned that 2700K is the planned standard for Countywide LED conversion. While appropriate for high traffic corridors, it is on the high end, and often well beyond what should be used near homes, parks, and other natural areas. Just as different types of signs and traffic signals are used on different types of streets (i.e. stop lights or stop signs), one size does not fit all when it comes to LED lighting. Prof. Darren Evans, of Newcastle University, who was part of a study on street lighting, said: 

“Light pollution is one of the few causes of biodiversity loss that has easy [and immediate] solutions. We need a balance between protecting both public safety and wildlife, by ensuring that lighting is well designed, away from important habitats and switched on for limited times.”

As we stated, we appreciate your attention to Altadena’s unique position, surrounded by nature on three sides: Eaton Canyon, the National Forest and Hahamongna Watershed. In the coming LED conversion, we want to keep our nighttime lighting as close as possible to what we have had for decades. This can be achieved by specifying that new lamps away from main corridors are 2200Kelvin, have diffused diodes, and are amber coated. We have done significant research and studied other communities’ conversions — our coalition of groups and businesses advocate for this type and level of lighting. We look forward to working with County staff and SCE in coming up with an Altadena lighting master plan .

We believe this is necessary, and we look forward to your continued support to keep this project on track. Our coalition represents the broadest swath of our community, and respectfully requests a place at the table on this very exciting project to which we’ve devoted so much time and energy.


Sharon Sand, Chair Altadena Heritage
on behalf of our coalition members

  • Safe Streets Committee, Altadena Town Council
    Altadena Heritage
  • Neighbors Building a Better Altadena
  • Altadena Chamber of Commerce
  • Softlight Altadena
  • Arroyo Seco Foundation
  • Stop the Glare
  • Altadena Rotary
  • Altadena Arts Coalition
  • Los Angeles Bat Rescue
  • Altadena Crest Trail Restoration Working Group