County Lighting Service Area (FAQs)

    ​The CLSA Assessment District was formed under County Service Area Law as a means to provide funding for the annual cost to operate and maintain the street lighting system within the unincorporated pocket areas of Santa Clara County.  In 2000, the County conducted a property owner election to form the CLSA Assessment District.  Property owners who benefitted from the street lighting system were sent a notice describing the proposed assessment and a ballot to vote on forming the assessment district.  The CLSA Assessment District was divided up into 13 benefit zones because each benefit zone (pocket area) had varying degrees of street lighting. Property owners located within 12 of the 13 benefit zones approved the formation of the CLSA Assessment District and subsequent levying of annual assessments.  In 2010, the City of San Jose annexed one of the benefit zones into their City; therefore the CLSA Assessment District is now comprised of only 11 benefit zones.

    ​The CLSA Assessment District, through the levy of assessments, pays for the annual cost to operate, maintain and service the street lighting system located within the 11 benefit zones. The street lighting system includes, but is not limited, to poles, fixtures, bulbs, conduits, guys, anchors, posts, pedestals, metering devices and any other appurtenant improvements needed to provide street lighting within the boundaries of the CLSA Assessment District

    The CLSA is a dependent special district formed under the authority of the County of Santa Clara and governed by the County Board of Supervisors.  The annual operations and management of the CLSA is performed by the County’s Roads & Airports Department.  Among other things, this department is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the expressways and rural and urban roadways in the unincorporated areas of the County which includes over 4,500 street lights

    Table No. 4 below shows the annual assessment rates by benefit zone and level of service for a single family residential parcel for FY 2020-21.  Because there are varying degrees of existing street lighting within each benefit zone, three (3) separate and distinct levels of service have been created. Level of Service No. 1 includes all parcels that receive special benefit from intersection and cul-de-sac street lighting only. Level of Service No. 2 includes all parcels that receive special benefit from intersection, cul-de-sac and mid-block street lighting (street light spaced approximately 300 to 500 ft. apart along a street). Level of Service No. 3 includes all parcels that receive special benefit from intersection, cul-de-sac, mid-block and mid-mid block street lighting (street light spaced less than 300 ft. apart along a street).

    Table 4: County Lighting Service Area - Total Benefit Units per Benefit Zone

    Other land uses are assessed as follows:

    1. Condominium Parcels are assessed at 75% the rate of a single family residential parcel due to the reduced population density per parcel and the reduced size of structure relative to the typical single family residence. Condominium parcels are defined as parcels that have a land use classification as condominium or townhouse with the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office.
    2. Multi-Family Parcels are assessed at 50% the rate of a single family residential parcel per unit due to the reduced population density per multi-family unit and the reduced size of structure relative to the typical single family residence. Multi-family parcels are defined as parcels that have a land use classification as multi-family, which includes duplexes, triplexes, apartments, and co-ops with the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office.
    3. Commercial, Industrial, Institutional, Public, Quasi Public, Non-Manufacturing and Manufacturing Parcels are assessed at 6 times the rate of a single family residential parcel per acre of land. The average number of single-family residential parcels per acre within the boundaries of the County Lighting Service Area Assessment District is estimated to be 6.00 single family residential parcels per acre. Therefore, in order to equate non-residential property to that of a single family residential parcel, all commercial, industrial, institutional, public, quasi-public and manufacturing parcels are assessed 6 times the rate of a single family residential parcel per acre of land with a minimum assessment equal to the single family parcel rate.
    4. All undeveloped parcels that have no improvements constructed thereon and have a land use classification as vacant with the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office or agricultural parcels without a structure constructed on it are assessed at 50% of the single family rate per parcel.  Undeveloped parcels receive a reduced benefit from street lighting because they generate less pedestrian and vehicular traffic, however they still benefit from having existing street lighting in place in the event they were to develop.

    To review a copy of the FY 2019-20 CLSA Report which provides more detailed information about the CLSA Assessment District and Assessment Methodology click:

    CLSA Assessment Report​.

    ​If you would like to request the installation of a new street light, please contact the County’s Consultant, Francisco & Associates, Inc., at 800-441-8280.  As part of the process for obtaining County approval, the property owner will need to obtain approval from the adjacent property owners who will be impacted by the new street light.  In addition, all property owners impacted by the new street light will be required to pay the annual cost to operate and maintain the new street light.  Installing a new street light on an existing PG&E pole would be at no cost to the property owners (paid for by PG&E).  However, if there are no existing PG&E poles, or the existing PG&E poles are in an undesirable location to provide the proper level of street lighting, the property owners would be required to pay the cost of installing the new street light pole

    ​Installing a new street light on an existing PG&E pole would be at no cost to the property owners (paid for by PG&E).  However, if there are no existing PG&E poles, or the existing PG&E poles are in an undesirable location to provide the proper level of street lighting, the property owners would be required to pay the cost of installing the new street light pole.  Before PG&E can give property owners a cost estimate for installing a new street light pole they would need to know the location of the street light and conduct a field audit.  Once the cost is known the County would want the affected property owners to sign a County prepared petition to show there is adequate property owner support to pay for the construction of the street light and annex the parcels into the CLSA.  Depending on the complexity of the situation the County may also require a property owner meeting to discuss the process to annex into the CLSA.  Regardless of whether there is an existing street light pole or not, property owners would also be responsible to pay for the annual cost to operate and maintain the new street light.

    To report a problem with a street light in your area, you must first identify who is responsible for the street light and be able to provide the light identification or badge number to the responsible party.  To obtain this information, you may navigate to the street light using the CLSA Location Map and click on the defective light.  An information box will appear with the appropriate contact number and website to report the problem.  If the street light does not appear on the map, it is most likely owned and maintained by the City within Santa Clara County where the street light is located.

    As an alternative method, to report a problem with a County-maintained street light, you can complete the Street Light Service Request form.  If the street light is located within an adjacent City, please contact the appropriate City directly to report problems with their street lights.

    When reporting a County-maintained street light problem, first check the pole for a maintenance logo.  Most County-maintained street light poles, except wooden poles, have a maintenance logo attached to the pole on the street side, about 6 feet above the ground.  A pole number is similarly located and consists of 4 or 5 digits. Wood poles do not have the logo but should have a pole number.  If the pole number includes a letter as the 2nd or 3rd character, i.e., 1J11 or 12Q112, then it is most likely maintained by the City of San Jose's Department of Transportation.  If the street light is on a wooden pole, then it might be maintained by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).  Report the outage directly to PG&E by using the link PG&E Street Light Service Request. The PG&E site can help identify whether the pole is maintained by PG&E or by a particular city, including contact information. 

    County traffic signal and roadway service requests submitted by one of the forms above will be responded to as soon as possible, often by the next business day; street light service requests are usually completed within 10 business days.  Please contact other Agencies directly regarding problems with their facilities.

    ​Upgrading to more energy-efficient lighting can yield cost savings to the County and property owners in both energy and maintenance costs.  Approximately 80% of the  CLSA street lights are owned and maintained by PG&E and the remaining 20% of the street lights are owned by the County of Santa Clara.

    The street lights owned by PG & E were upgraded to LED in late 2016. County staff anticipates proceeding with the upgrade of the remaining 20% of CLSA street lights that are owned by the County during FY 2019-20. 

    CLSA Location Map and Assessor's Report

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