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Outages And Issues

You can report a street lighting outage or issue through MyLA311.lacity.org, the MyLA311 app, or by calling 3-1-1 (213) 473-3231 if you are outside the City of Los Angeles.

You can report a street lighting outage or issue through MyLA311.lacity.org, the MyLA311 app, or by calling 3-1-1 (213) 473-3231 if you are outside the City of Los Angeles.

At the moment, on average, repairs can take more than 180 days due to an unfortunate increase in repairs caused by severe wire theft and vandalism. All repairs are prioritized by first-in-first-out and handled as expeditiously as possible. If there are any exposed wires please report to 311 and a crew will be dispatched to remedy the hazard.

Four main factors affect the Bureau’s response time:

  1. The volume of service requests have grown significantly - In Fiscal Year 2016-2017, the Bureau took in around 16,500 MyLA311 service requests; by Fiscal Year 2021-22, that number had grown to over 30,000 – nearly double in a matter of five years.
  2. The types of repairs have become more complicated and time consuming as theft and vandalism has grown to 25% of the total service requests. Theft and vandalism often require heavy construction crews and can take multiple days – and in the worst case weeks – to fix.
  3. The backlog of deferred maintenance, such as delayed LED fixture (bulb) replacement, has resulted in increasing single-point and larger system failures in the nearly century-old streetlighting network.
  4. The Bureau’s main stream of revenue, the Assessment, has kept the Bureau’s operations and maintenance funding flat since 1996. As a result, only about 200 field staff cover the 470 square miles of the City of Los Angeles. With additional funding from the Mayor and Council, the Bureau has started to make headway in addressing issues related to theft and vandalism; however, deferred maintenance – and the need for the commensurate resources to address it – remains a critical issue.

Over several years, a dramatic increase in the number of theft and vandalism incidents has significantly impacted the street lighting network. In the span of just four years between Fiscal Year 2017/2018 (where the Bureau saw 607 theft-related incidents) and FY2021/2022 (where the Bureau saw 6344 CWPT theft-related incidents) was a 10-fold increase in reported issues. And while these types of incidents are endemic to electrical and lighting systems due to the value of metals and electricity, the cumulative damage – and the time and resources required to fix such an issue – has led to months-long backlogs of lighting outages.

Generally speaking, routine maintenance requires a couple hours of work. In comparison, copper theft may take several days, and in some cases, weeks to repair. It is akin to rewiring your house, rather than replacing a light bulb.

Copper Wire necessitates proper coordination among different disciplines (Wire Pulling Crews, Cement Crews, and Welding Crews). Secondly, circuit configurations and existing pole types can influence the repair times and complicate electrical repairs. Welders might need to fabricate vandal-proof doors for ornamental poles, and in some instances, the need to procure materials can result in further delays. Lastly, encampments, field conditions, and other obstructions might prevent crews from completing work in a timely manner.

Keeping LA’s lights on is the Bureau’s number one priority. The Bureau has been working to restore capital maintenance programs, such as the LED replacement program and pole replacement program, that were cut in previous recessions but are necessary to ensure continuity of service and prevent outages.

The pressing issue of theft and vandalism, however, has grown considerably – in the span of just four years between Fiscal Year 2017/2018 (where the Bureau saw 607 theft-related incidents) and Fiscal Year 2021/2022 (where the Bureau saw 6344 CWPT theft-related incidents) was a 10-fold increase. These repairs can often be more labor intensive, requiring several days of work to restore 15 lights, for example.

To address theft and vandalism, the Bureau is constantly evolving its tactical responses and has created two-pronged strategy:

  1. Augment its quick restoration and maintenance forces to get lights on as quickly as possible; while in the long term
  2. Fortifying street lighting infrastructure to stop intrusions into the system and using new technologies, such as solar lights to prevent theft and sensors and cameras to enforce against thieves.

The Bureau of Street Lighting defines vandalism as deliberate damage to the light poles and lighting system. Theft is a subset of vandalism that includes removing and/or adapting unauthorized parts from light poles (copper wires, adding power strips, etc..) Both types have a great impact on the efficacy of the street lighting system.

Copper wire theft is a crime when a perpetrator steals the copper wiring out of the street lighting conduit through the pullboxes or handholes. This will result in lighting outages. Power theft is when the perpetrator breaks into the circuit to steal power. This may result in lighting outages.

The increasing incidents of theft and vandalism create unsafe conditions by leaving communities in the dark for extended periods of time which can contribute to community safety issues like crime, pedestrian safety, and vehicle collisions. These types of repairs are extensive and costly which contributes to the backlog, requires additional resources, and exacerbates repair timelines.

There are quick tangible opportunities for community members to take action. If you witness a crime in progress, be safe and do not approach! Please call 911 immediately. Any information or pictures you take and share with us will help in safeguarding your streetlights. You can report and create a service request for any incidents of streetlight outages, vandalism, and theft through the City’s 311 system. Click “CREATE SERVICE REQUEST'', next click PROBLEMS & REPAIRS make a selection, add location and details & confirm.

When there is an incident of theft or vandalism, often street lights are left with exposed wires. Please do not touch! Use caution and report the incident to MYLA311. During the COVID-19 epidemic, the city experienced a 600% increase in vandalism and theft on top of the regular maintenance.

In 2021 the Infrastructure Protection Division (IPD) was created to address vandalism and theft through awareness campaigns, and implementing strategic restoration and fortification efforts in areas with chronic recurrence rates. Additional crews have also been added to restore lights as quickly as possible, while an entirely new “fortification program” has added heavy construction crews to try and harden vulnerable circuits.

City crews often do not have access to make repairs due to encampment conditions and safety concerns. Coordination efforts with other city departments are often lengthy and contingent on available resources.

You can report a hazardous condition through MyLA311.lacity.org, the MyLA311 app, or by calling 3-1-1 [(213) 473-3231 if you are outside the City of Los Angeles.

A Claim for Damages can be filed with the Office of the City Clerk if you feel that you have lost money or property as a result of any action or inaction by the City. If you need a claim form mailed to you, contact (213) 978-1133 or email clerk.cps@lacity.org.

Office of the City Clerk
200 North Spring Street
Room 395, City Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Please call LADWP at 1-800-DIAL-DWP or 1-213-367-9966 and be ready to say where the address is of the light as well as a good description of what the issue is.

You will need permission in order to install such a sign and there is a process that the city has for having neighborhood watch signs installed. Please contact the respective police department office.

To check the status of your service request please visit the MyLA311 website at https://myla311.lacity.org/, and search for the desired service request by inputting information in the “Search All Service Requests” section at the bottom of the page. The system will then display the current status of your service request. If you have any further questions or need assistance, you can contact the MyLA311 Customer Service Center at 3-1-1.