The lights adorning the trees in downtown Los Altos each holiday season will have a new look this year. Energy-efficient LED lights are currently being installed in trees lining Main and State streets and some parking plazas, and will make their official debut during the Los Altos Village Association’s 16th annual Holiday Stroll Friday.
According to LAVA Executive Director Scott Hunter, the plan is to keep the lights on during the evenings throughout the year.
“The tree lights were traditionally cut down after only being lit through the holiday season,” he said. “But we decided to do an experiment and leave them in the trees. We were successful in gaining community support but found the lights we were using just didn’t have the longevity we needed.”
Longevity does not come cheap. Commercial-grade outdoor LED lighting can be double the cost of standard lighting, but it can last three times longer.
“Our yearly budget for tree lights would not cover the additional cost of using LEDs,” Hunter said. “But putting them up and cutting down each year was a waste.”
So LAVA reached out to other local organizations to help illuminate the trees year-round. Silicon Valley Clean Energy was the first to see the value of low-energy LED lighting.
“As a community-owned agency, Silicon Valley Clean Energy is proud to support local organizations, such as the Los Altos Village Association,” said Pamela Leonard, communications manager at Silicon Valley Clean Energy. “The new LED tree lights are not only spreading holiday cheer, but they are more energy efficient, and powered by the clean, carbon-free electricity we provide for the city.”
Additional funding came via private donations as well as grants from local institutions such as the Heising-Simons Foundation, Los Altos Community Investments, Los Altos Community Foundation and the city of Los Altos.
“The city of Los Altos is pleased to partner with Silicon Valley Clean Energy and the Los Altos Village Association to bring energy-efficient, warm LED lights to our tree-lined Main Street, State Street and parking plazas downtown,” said City Manager Chris Jordan. “The new lights will provide a warm welcome to residents and visitors of our beautiful downtown while brightening the streets for shoppers and diners throughout the year.”
The lights are part of the “placemaking” LAVA provides for downtown Los Altos. The organization also manages the maintenance of the flower pots and the decorative seasonal street banners. But the tree lights will be the shining stars of the area’s visual identity.
“People want more than great shops and restaurants,” Hunter said. “They want a colorful, safe experience, and the new tree lights will be something people remember about our downtown.”
For more information on LAVA, visit downtownlosaltos.org.