The Isla Vista Community Services District held a “Lighting Walk” on Feb. 23 to assess underlit areas throughout Isla Vista and improve street lighting in the college town.
Around 6 p.m., volunteers gathered at the Isla Vista Community Center before nightfall then split into groups, with each group walking through a different quadrant of I.V. and making note of its underlit areas.
Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) President and Director Spencer Brandt said lighting has been an ongoing issue in I.V., with many residents citing concerns of safety in areas with inadequate lighting.
“Walking home at night in dark areas can make people feel very unsafe, and being able to live in a community where you feel safe, where you feel at home, where you feel secure should be the number one priority of any local government agency,” Brandt said.
Brandt said the last “Lighting Walk” — organized in conjunction with the 2019 Associated Students External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) Jeike Meijer — occurred in 2019. That walk resulted in the installation of 36 new streetlights that were installed on top of telephone poles in underlit areas.
“Our goal with this [walk] is to both continue that process of looking for those underlit areas for additional streetlights, but we’re also starting to think about areas where different, innovative lighting solutions can be implemented as well, like pedestrian scale lighting, which is something that is very common on the UCSB campus.”
Fourth-year communication major Enaiya Judkins attended the walk on behalf of the EVPLA office and spoke about the office’s awareness of the lighting issue in I.V.
“Lighting in Isla Vista is somewhat of a problem just because it’s not the best on certain blocks, and I think this is a problem past EVPLAs have heard about and wanted to fix,” Judkins said. “The main goal of the EVPLA office is always to improve the Isla Vista community and make sure that life is better for students who do live in I.V. as well as the [non-student] local community.”
Lisa Oglesby, the president of the Isla Vista Food Cooperative’s board of directors, participated in the lighting walk as a volunteer and described the event as “well-organized” with lots of potential for the community.
“[The event] is very well organized. Community focus has a lot of potential for improving all kinds of conditions within Isla Vista. The Community Services District worked really hard at being responsive and proactive to ensure that we have not just a fun community, but a safe community and an accessible community for everyone,” Oglesby said.
Oglesby said she hoped the event will help fix the small inconveniences of Isla Vista.
“I hope for all the little things to get fixed. Because it’s those little things that make someone’s life better,” Oglesby said. “If someone is walking from Friendship Manor to the Business District and we have uneven sidewalks or bad lighting, or even a bus stop out of service, that could make life that much harder. We have a really mixed community of people at different phases of their life, and you really want to make things work for everybody.”
This is one of my favorite annual events. I’m sure that a lot of valuable conversations go on as the group walks from site-to-site. Thanks to the organizers.