Public Law

Public Law Journal: Winter 2020, Vol. 43, No. 1

California Public Entities’ Duty to Light Streets: The Erosion of the Peculiar Condition Exception

By Andrew J. Chan

Andrew J. Chan is a Senior Associate in Ericksen Arbuthnot’s Oakland/East Bay office and a member of the firm’s Appellate, Construction, and Real Estate Practice Groups.

Absent a statutory or charter provision, public entities generally are under no duty to light streets and any alleged failure to light them is not actionable negligence.1

For more than three decades, however, California courts have recognized a potential exception where a "peculiar condition" may render lighting necessary in order to make the streets safe for travel.2

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