It's going to be much brighter on a swath of San Jose streets starting this weekend.
Kevin O'Conner, the city's department of transportation director, said on Tuesday that 900 streetlights along Alum Rock Avenue that were turned off in 2008 to save money will be back on.
At the same time, the city is seeking to put about $250,000 into next year's budget to battle copper thieves, who steal copper from lightposts to sell on the streets for an average of $4 a pound.
A total of 162 light fixutures have been vandalized in recent weeks in San Jose, especially along Ryland Drive.
The San Jose city council this week approved the action as a mid-year budget item.
"Now that we have got our budget under control - and for the first time in many years had a surplus last year or a cushion as the mayor talks about - we’ve been able to restore some services and this is one of those services that we will be able to restore," Councilwoman Rose Herrera said. "Going forward we want to make sure we will be able to continue to make the right decisions so that we don’t have to cut services."
According to the city, turning on 900 lights will cost $44,000 for equipment, materials and overtime pay to replace the lamps and fuses and an ongoing cost of $92,000 to pay for the electricity. The shut-off program saved the city about $77,000 a year in energy costs. The lights will be turned back on at the rate of 225 a month, starting with White Road, Tully Road, Alum Rock Avenue and Camden Avenue, which was first reported by NeighborWebSJ.
There are no exact numbers to prove that lighted streets lead to less crime, but O'Conner said, lighted streets certainly help people feel safer.
"Our residents are understandably very concerned about safety in neighborhoods where we’ve got lights out ," Councilman Sam Liccardo said. "And we’re working hard both to get lights back on and to repair the copper wire thefts and make the necessary repairs that we need to make to get hundreds of lights back up and running."
To see a map where the streetlights were turned off, click here.
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