The “City of Light” could be getting a little dimmer in the Elmwood Village shopping district.
Buffalo city officials have warned small businesses along Elmwood Avenue that they won’t be able to tap into city power sources for their festive holiday light displays unless they hire licensed electricians to do the work and take out liability insurance of at least $1 million.
Some business owners say the regulations are so onerous that they won’t be able to keep up the lights, which have become a holiday shopping tradition along the city’s most successful strip of retail stores.
“I’m totally caught off guard by this. This is a long-standing tradition,” said Paul Tsouflidis, owner of Acropolis OPA.
The Elmwood Village Association received a letter last week from Michael Hoffert, the city’s senior engineering for street lighting, spelling out the restrictions.
The letter states all lights and decorations must be at least 14 feet and 6 inches above the street; liability insurance of $1 million must be on file with the city’s Law Department by Oct. 1; and any installation, connection or removal of decorations or festoons to street light poles must be performed by a licensed and insured electrician.
Typically, business owners have put up the lights themselves and haven’t had any issues, said Tsouflidis, who took to Twitter to express his dismay at the city regulations.
“They’re low voltage LEDs,” he said. “ There’s no fire hazard, no liability for it. We’ve not had any problems.”
City spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge and City Engineer Steve Stepniak could not be reached to comment late Monday.