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Scrooged! Edison says 'Bah, humbug!' to Christmas lights

Edison says 'Bah, humbug!' to Christmas lights

Posted: December 4, 2008 9:51 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Workers from Southern California Edison take down the Christmas lights that adorned streetlight posts in Valencia Thursday.

One Clifton Place resident is calling it "The Utility That Stole Christmas."

Many were shocked when they came home Thursday to find workers from Southern California Edison taking down Christmas lights that adorned streetlight poles.

After all, the lights were plugged into metered outlets outside the Valencia residents' homes.

Robyn Bloom said her neighbors wrapped the streetlight poles with brightly colored garlands intertwined with Christmas lights, turning them into gigantic mock candy canes.

Edison workers took these decorations off five light posts, telling residents they had to get special permission since the poles were on private property.

One resident said the neighbors had put up similar decorations on the street for several years and never had any problems.

Edison workers apparently discovered the decorations during routine checks to ensure the streetlights were working.

Resident Rob Kerchner, who coined "The Utility That Stole Christmas" tag, said two streetlights have been broken for several years.

"It's ironic that they came out to fix the lights that have been broken for years and instead tore down our Christmas decorations," he said.

The workers also removed the swagged lights, or strings of lights that extended across the beginning of the street from one light post to another, Bloom said.

Every family decorated its house and lawn with lights, but the decorated light posts created the impression of entering a Christmas village.

"They took away the (lighted) entrance to our street," Bloom said.

Edison workers left a notice on one resident's door stating, "Decorations are not allowed on SCE streetlights due to operational liability concerns."

"It's important that lights had to come down," SCE spokesman Steven Conroy said.

"(They create) a liability problem and a safety problem. It's unfortunate that they had to come down, but public safety needs to take precedence."

Some of the residents spend hours putting up the lights every year, so resident Tony Arnold said Edison should have at least issued a warning.

"They should have said at the beginning of the season that this wouldn't be allowed," he said.

Kerchner and his neighbors won The Signal's Holiday Light Tour neighborhood Christmas light contest in the past, and they planned to compete again Saturday.

"I wouldn't be surprised if a fourth of the people in the city have been down our street," Kerchner said.

Wendy Downs, who lives on the next street over on Cunningham Drive, said Edison workers also took down her lights on three different light posts.

"I had to purchase all new lights this year. I wished I had known ahead of time that this wouldn't be allowed because I would have saved over $60," she said.

Residents said they enjoy sharing Christmas spirit with others through their decorations.

"It's our tradition," Bloom said. "We love to have people coming by to look at the lights."


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