Oakland considers plan to light high crime areas

November 15, 2011 6:21:10 PM PST
Crooks are like cockroaches -- they don't like the sunlight. And in Oakland city leaders are considering a plan to light up high crime areas. Tuesday, the Oakland City Council is scheduled to discuss an amendment to "dark skies." It's a proposal that would add street lamps to neighborhoods and crime hot spots.

According to the Oakland Public Safety Committee, between June 2010 and Oct. 6, 2011, there were 176 violent crimes.

"Around our neighborhood right here, there's really not a lot of street lights," said West Oakland resident and mother Margarette Randel.

Randel is happy to learn that the City Council is pushing to add more street lights to certain areas. She says that rising crime in her neighborhood can make her walk home at night a tricky one.

"I feel like I have to avoid certain areas just because there aren't any street lights," said Randel.

L. Norwood has lived in her home since 1972. She says that she's seen things change, but that her block is relatively quiet. Her street lights work and she wonders if the city should spend the money elsewhere.

"They say they don't have money. Look at my streets right there, it needs fixing," said Norwood.

Sandra Johnson has added security lights to the outside of her home because of the broken city street lamps and the slow response to fix them.

"I sit in that window every night, to watch for my son to come home," said Johnson.

Vice Mayor Desley Brooks has a proposal before the City Council to increase lighting in high crime areas. She knows that the issue of cost in this cash-strapped city is a concern. That's why she is investigating low-cost lighting options and ways to subsidize the installation of new lamps in crime hot spots. She is also quick to point out that whatever the cost it shouldn't outweigh safety.

"Even if we don't have the money, these neighborhoods deserve a quality of life," said Brooks.

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, supports the move for increased lighting in problem areas and says that in a city known for voicing their opposition to things they don't like, on the topic of adding street lamps to troubled neighborhoods, she hasn't heard a peep.

"We're talking about specific hotspots, we're not talking about every lamp in the city. We're talking about improving the lighting in key areas, where the people in those areas are asking for it," said Kaplan.

If the city approves the proposal, they'll begin the long process of how a city -- already millions of dollars in debt -- will pay for it.

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