WEST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — In a city filled with energy during the day, there’s even more wasted energy at night, from lights on all night at City Hall, late at night at DWP headquarters, all day and all night at some Los Angeles County courthouses that have been closed for years.
It comes after Mayor Eric Garcetti launched the “Save Energy L.A.” campaign asking people to switch off and unplug.
“We can get by sometimes with just a little bit of light in this city,” Garcetti told CBS2’s investigative reporter David Goldstein.
But it seems his office hasn’t gotten the message.
After one sunset at City Hall, Goldstein set up a time-lapse camera recording every second from dusk to dawn, footage that captured lights staying on all night long across a bank of windows on the third floor, where the mayor’s suite of offices are located.
Garcetti said it could be cleaning crews but certainly not all night.
“If there is no good reason, absolutely not,” he said. “If there’s not somebody cleaning and there’s not a security reason for it, we should be shutting those down.”
And that’s not the only downtown building.
Well after closing time at Department of Water and Power headquarters, Goldstein found lights on in what appear to be empty offices, along with entire floors with overhead lighting.
Of course, the buildings are open during the day and some people could be coming and going at night. But Goldstein also found lights remaining on around the clock in some government buildings that have been closed for years.
In 2013, the county shut down seven courthouses to save money, but our time-lapse camera at the now-shuttered Pomona courthouse showed somebody forgot to turn the lights out.
While the judges left three years ago, the lights stay on all day and night, never going off.
The same goes for a courthouse in San Pedro that’s been closed for three years, as well as shuttered courthouses in West L.A., Malibu and Whittier.
Mike Verdugo lives in Whittier and is trying to do his part to save energy after seeing the lights every day.
“Just unplug it,” he says. “Just throw the switch.”
While it wasn’t known just how much money was being wasted, the Judicial Council of California, the state agency that runs the courthouses, responded with this statement: “After your inquiry, we discovered that the lights of the remaining courthouses have indeed been left on and we have turned them off.”
Sure enough, the lights were subsequently turned off at the West L.A. location. The mayor also says he’ll throw the switch on unnecessary lights in city buildings, conserving energy like he’s asking everyone else to do.
The mayor’s office released a statement Monday:
“City Hall has been converting to a new automated lighting control system since April. The conversion should be complete in about a month.
This project required us to disconnect the old lighting control system. As a result, it is possible that some lights may not be turned off at night. Most lights, but not all, in the rooms on the third floor of City Hall facing Main Street are on timers. We have been educating our daytime employees as well as security and cleaning staff on the need to turn off lights that are not on timers during this conversion period.
The new lighting control system will turn off lights automatically outside of business and cleaning hours. We surveyed the 1,100 occupants in City Hall in order to program each office area to their needs. We plan to expand this lighting control system to all city-owned large buildings.”
It’s also worth noting that the city has achieved significant energy savings from other sources, for example, by adjusting the thermostat in city buildings. Let me know if you would like information on those reductions.”