After years of allowing Westwood residents’ safety to be compromised, it seems the city of Los Angeles has finally seen the light.
At the Feb. 10 meeting of the Westwood Neighborhood Council, City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services said it has agreed to fund a program that will bring new LED streetlights to the North Village, the student residential area roughly bordered by Gayley Avenue, Strathmore Drive and Veteran Avenue, before the end of the year.
A new streetlight costs about $15,000 to install, but the bureau hopes to reduce those costs by replacing bulbs instead of installing completely new ones.
Students who live in the North Village know too well how dangerous the poorly lit streets around the apartments can be. The issue has regularly appeared on undergraduate student government candidates’ platforms throughout the years. Now, thanks to the work of students who have stepped in, it seems things are finally changing.
Heather Hourdequin, Undergraduate Students Association Council internal vice president, and Jacob Finn, an undergraduate student representative on the neighborhood council, worked with university police to create a map of criminal activity in the North Village that proved the correlation between dimly lit areas and crime.
Nearly a year ago, UCPD spokesperson Nancy Greenstein told The Bruin that university police were unable to correlate dim lighting with increased crime rates. However, the map Hourdequin and Finn created with UCPD finally provided evidence the two are related.
Students weren’t the only ones to act. A year ago, there were no requests to change lighting in Westwood. However, other community members recently submitted multiple complaints that spurred the city to act, according to the Bureau of Street Services.
With this research, the installation of new streetlights can also be strategic. Hourdequin and Finn’s efforts were the first step in identifying the most vulnerable areas in the North Village. Now, city inspectors need to determine whether the situation can be improved through replacing existing streetlights’ bulbs with brighter, more energy-efficient LED bulbs or if some areas require brand-new streetlights as well.
Inspectors have yet to study the area and determine the exact need and cost of making North Village safe. Still, it seems safe to say city officials are making progress for the first time in a long while.
Insufficient lighting has plagued the North Village for too long. Now, with help from student government leaders and other community members, the future of the North Village is definitely brighter.