Walking down any street at night in downtown San Antonio, a resident or visitor will encounter a number of different types of light bulbs – compact fluorescent, incandescent, halogen – in any degree of warm or cool tones. But City Council approved a measure Thursday that aims to unify the “lighting character” of the urban core.

The City and CPS Energy, the publicly-owned electricity utility, split the $500,000 cost of the Urban Master Lighting Plan developed by a consultant team. Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) spearheaded the effort.

“We are a city by design, not by accident,” Treviño wrote in a statement. “Thus, my vision when developing the Urban Lighting Plan was to put forth a consistent, intentional strategy for lighting that would work in many ways to improve our quality of life here in San Antonio.”

The plan will be used as a framework for future lighting policy decisions and was developed over the past year with input from residents, San Antonio Police Department, and other stakeholders.

“The [master plan] will be used by many City departments as well as design consultants hired onto City capital projects, and it is expected to have a significant impact on lighting design,” according to a City summary of the plan. “While the study is specific to downtown, the recommendations in the study serve as a framework for projects throughout the city.”

The guidance provided by the plan will inform how light is used for “orientation, way finding, place making, aesthetic enrichment, and the reinforcement of perception related to safety and security.”

That is, people tend to feel safer in place that are well-lit at night, and light can be used as an identifying feature for routes and can be aesthetically pleasing when coordinated properly.

“This gives good, consistent design element for lighting throughout San Antonio,” Centro San Antonio Executive Director Warren Wilkinson said. “More of a uniform look instead of hodgepodge.”

Iris Dimmick

Iris Dimmick

Senior reporter Iris Dimmick covers City Hall, politics, development, and more. Contact her at iris@sareport.org