On Jan. 12, the Office of the External Vice President for Local Affairs presented a report to the Isla Vista Community Services District detailing a comprehensive plan to improve street lighting in I.V.
The report touched on a variety of topics, focusing mainly on how to remediate I.V.’s current lighting situation, which many residents deem inadequate, according to the report. The report also covered funding, wattage increases and potential problems that could arise from the implementation of new lighting fixtures.
The report, compiled by the External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) Jeike Meijer, I.V. Community Services District (I.V. CSD) and Associated Students Lobby Corps proposes improvements to the existing street lighting situation.
The lighting augmentation would include street light wattages from 54W L.E.D. to 130W L.E.D. along the 6600 and 6700 blocks of Pasado Road and Sueno Road, the 6500 and 6600 blocks of Picasso Road and the 6500 block of Cordoba Road, Segovia Road, El Greco Road and Cervantes Road.
This change in wattage would match that of the existing wattages for Del Playa Drive and Sabado Tarde Road as well as parts of Abrego Road and Trigo Road, which already have 130W L.E.D. bulbs installed.
Altogether, the report suggests increasing the wattage of 73 L.E.D. street lights in I.V. The report calculated the L.E.D. updates to cost roughly $21,900, or $300 per each L.E.D.
Aside from detailing fixed costs, the report also noted that ongoing costs would be “funded though CSA 31’s (County Service Area 31) benefit and property tax revenue,” which has a surplus of approximately $7,500, according to the report.
There are also recommendations to replace the remaining 38 High Pressure Sodium Vapour (HPSV) street lights with L.E.D.s, due to their lack of efficiency and shorter lifespans, excluding HPSV lights on El Embarcadero and Pardall Road.
The report proposed the installation of 10 new street lights along Abrego Road, Pasado Road and Sueno Road. These street lights would be placed in areas that currently contain gaps between existing fixtures, according to the report.
The construction of these new street lights would cost an estimated $90,000, according to the report.
The report acknowledged concerns regarding the increase in the wattage of existing street lights. Installing new lights could potentially erode I.V.’s “natural serenity” and increase light pollution, according to the report.
The EVPLA Office made an attempt to alleviate these concerns by citing the energy-efficiency of L.E.D. bulbs and their superior light distribution compared to fluorescent bulbs. L.E.D. lights contain no toxic elements such as mercury, which is commonly found in fluorescent lights, according to the report.
“Mercury mostly poses a threat to the environment, specifically when fluorescent lights end up in landfill waste,” the report stated.
While street lighting has been a talking point for Associated Students (A.S.) and I.V. officials for years, I.V. CSD President Spencer Brandt said there is still a lot of work to be done. Brandt said he hopes that I.V. residents continue to support this proposal and hopes to secure the funds and resources necessary from CSA 31 to keep the project moving forward.
“There is strong support for a brighter IV and to the hundreds [of] IV residents that have made their voices heard. We will need the community’s continued input in order to make more lighting a reality,” he said in a Facebook post.
Although this is the most recent attempt to call attention to street lighting deficiencies in I.V., past efforts from community members have also attempted to address this issue, going back as far as 1972, according to Brandt’s Facebook post.
Students, leaders and law enforcement officials also voiced their concerns in support of upgraded lighting fixtures in testimonials from the report.
Many people’s concerns about lighting deficiencies are rooted in concerns about safety in I.V., which some say would be increased with greater lighting in the area.
“Often when I feel the least safe is when I am walking back to my apartment through I.V. at night, and I think adding more lighting would make me, and others, feel safer,” Sarah Allen-Sutter, fourth-year psychology major, wrote in her testimonial in the report.
For now, some students, including Emily Montalvo-Telford, president of Students Against Sexual Assault, said they have to resort to other means for ensuring safety when walking through dimly lit I.V. streets at night.
“I feel unsafe. I am forced to walk quickly and I have spent many walks on the phone with friends in order to experience even a small amount of security,” Montavlo-Telford wrote in the report.
Lt. Juan Camarena of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office wrote in the report that he agreed that increased lighting would be a viable way to mitigate crime and increase safety.
“Improved lighting means that offenders are more likely to be seen by someone who might intervene, call law enforcement, or recognize the offender,” Camarena wrote.
The report also included a survey conducted by the EVPLA office which asked I.V. residents if money designated for improving I.V. should be spent expanding either sidewalks or lighting. Lighting was overwhelmingly favored, garnering 90.9 percent of the 187 responses.
The report proposed several ways to gauge feedback from the community about lighting issues and then suggested specific improvements for lighting expansion and renovation.
I.V. CSD, in collaboration with A.S., would co-host a Lighting Expansion Forum, which would give residents the opportunity to review the proposal and provide input.
Canvassing would also be carried out door-to-door, with volunteers giving information to residents about proposed changes and the lighting expansion forum for the public.
A full version of the report can be viewed below:
Updated [2:42 p.m.]
Max Abrams and Sean Crommelin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A version of this article appeared on p. 5 of the Feb. 14, 2019 edition of the Daily Nexus.