Los Angeles is trying to become the greenest city in the world, leading the way in energy conservation. But NBCLA has exposed one way the city is wasting energy, and your tax dollars. In some areas, the city has been leaving streetlights on all day long, needlessly burning electricity in broad daylight. Even worse, residents tell us they've been calling the city's 311 line for months, asking the city to turn off the lights during the day, all to no avail.
It was only after we began questioning officials at LA's Bureau of Street lighting, that city began fixing this big waste of energy.
Consider the case of one Westwood neighborhood, near Wilshire Blvd and Beverly Glen, where 564 streetlights have been burning 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Nomi Dershowitz's family has been calling 311 since February, asking the city to turn off the lights during the day. "The city did tell us they'd fix it quickly. Within two days" Dershowitz told NBC LA.
But four months later, the city still hadn't fixed the problem. "Does it concern you that so much energy is being wasted?" NBC LA Investigative Reporter Joel Grover asked Ed Ebrahimian, head of LA's Bureau of Street Lighting. "No question, no question," he replied.
In fact, on the city's own website, Los Angeles urges its citizens to to turn off their lights at home whenever they're not needed. But city officials had a hard time explaining why they have been leaving their streetlights on during the day when they're not needed. "Why would the city leave the lights on all day long?" Grover asked Ebrahimian. "This is an issue we don't have control in the Bureau of Street Lighting," Ebrahimian said. "Those (lights) are all controlled by the Dept of Water and Power," he added.
But the next week, Ebrahimian said he was wrong; it wasn't the DWPs fault, he blamed the contractor who was upgrading streetlights in parts of LA. He said they installed faulty timing devices to turn the lights off during the day. And the next day, Ebrahimian changed the story again. This time he was blaming the manufacturer of the streetlights, Sequoia Lighting, saying it supposed to send new timing devices to city months ago.
Whatever the reason, the day after NBC LA starting questioning the Bureau of Street Lighting about this waste of energy, we spotted city crews out in one neighborhood, replacing parts on the streetlights, and finally the lights were off during the day.
"I think its really a shame that NBC had to become involved in order for the problem to be addressed properly," Nomi Dershowitz says.
In her Westwood neighborhood, the lights are still on during the day. But now, the city is promising to fix them within two to three weeks.
"I'm thrilled the lights are off in some neighborhoods. I'm waiting for the job to be completed," Dershowitz says.
Do you have a story for us to investigate? email Joel at: Joel.Grover@nbcuni.com