Due to the abundance of nonfunctioning lights and poorly lit areas on Isla Vista streets, safety concerns have arisen within the campus community and Associated Students senators are now organizing new efforts to tackle the issue.
Off-campus Senators Alex Choate and Kaitlyn Christianson are collaborating with the Office of the External Vice President for Local Affairs to spearhead a project that will repair broken lighting structures and find ways to construct new street lights in areas identified to be particularly in need. According to Choate, there are currently a total of 26 lights with bulbs needing replacement and eight areas identified as insufficiently lit, including portions of Camino Corto, Estero Road and Abrego Road.
According to Choate, the primary task the project involves is documenting and reporting the numerous missing or obstructed lights to Southern California Edison, which is then obligated to file working orders to have these lights fixed. The group eventually hopes to make this assessment an official duty of the EVPLA Office or hold periodical ‘lighting walks’ to monitor the situation and keep SCE accountable for repairs, Choate said.
Choate said there is no statistical data showing that lack of lighting leads to more crime in certain areas, but based on the information the group has collected the possibility of a link seems likely.
“I’d like to see if there is a correlation between crimes that have occurred in certain areas and the lack of lighting in I.V.,” Choate said. “I actually was one of the people who walked the streets and took down all this information as to which lights are out, and from what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen from the emergency alerts, there’s a pretty good chance there will be a correlation.”
I.V. Recreation and Parks Department Board of Directors member Sawyeh Maghsoodloo said the lack of lighting is a serious detriment to the safety of I.V. residents.
“When it’s dark, it’s easier to get away with crime. Studies have shown that in more well-lit areas, crime rates do go down, especially in regard to sexual assault,” Maghsoodloo said. “These are problems we do have in I.V. Undeniably, we do have lighting issues — a lot of the lights haven’t been replaced in who knows how long. Replacing them is one easy step we can take to not only increase safety but to also make residents feel safer, which I think is also important.”
IVRPD is working extensively with the group to find ways to implement additional lighting.
According to EVPLA Rhandy Siordia, the project has also prompted Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr to compose a letter addressing the problem, which will likely be signed by A.S. members.
“The county is being supportive and willing to sign a letter to send to SoCal Edison, and they’ve become a very enthusiastic partner in this project,” Siordia said. “I really, really am pleased to see that because you don’t see areas like Montecito that have dim lighting areas, where [the] population isn’t as transitional as our college community.”
The group is looking into raising funds that will finance solar lighting or new transformers to install in particularly problematic areas, Siordia said.
“Estero Road has no lights at all. That’s very sad that there are community members on that street who for whatever reason do not have any lights there, and it’s dangerous,” Siordia said. “It’s a basic need that we realistically shouldn’t have to be fighting this hard for, but we’re going to fight hard for it nonetheless.”
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of January 16, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.