LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — If streetlights would make your block a safer place, would you pay thousands of dollars out of your own pocket to buy them?
Some Larchmont residents put the idea to a vote.
As CBS2’s Rachel Kim reports, things are looking a lot brighter at night along Ridgewood Place and Wilton Drive from Beverly to Second Street. It’s all thanks to 32 new streetlights just installed in June after residents tried for five years to get them in their community.
“We just thought it would be safer,” resident Lynn Doering said.
“We moved in a year and a half ago, and it was pitch black at night,” Mike Ambruster said.
Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge says when these homes were built close to a century ago, the streets didnt didn’t come with lights.
“So all this has grown and grown, and now these neighborhoods are being reclaimed and beautified,” LaBonge said.
But as the neighborhood grew, so did problems. About five years ago, after break-ins and prostitution on their dark streets, some residents decided to try to get lights installed. It started with getting a majority of homeowners to sign a petition to have a vote.
Of 56 residents, 40 returns ballots, and 24 of those were in favor of lights. Even residents who voted against the lights or who didn’t vote at all will have to pay for the installation. Residents had the option to pay it all upfront or to pay over 10 years.
“Once we had enough for the vote, everyone received a letter including the exact requirements and what it would mean for each homeowner,” Doering said.
The majority of residents voted to assess themselves $6,000 to $10,000, based on property frontage, to pay for the lights. Armbruster says he ended up paying $7,000 upfront but feels the lights are well worth it.
“We have a 4-year-old son so we definitely wanted it to feel extremely safe, Armbruster said. “Now it’s like the ballpark at night. We feel it improves the property values around the neighborhood as well.”
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” LaBonge said. “It does take time, but it does bring the community together.”
LaBonge says residents who are interested in getting lights in their neighborhood should contact the city’s Bureau of Street Lighting. He tells CBS2 that the city has been using the assessment process for installation and maintenance since the 1900s. The system is not part of the general fund, and property owners are responsible for the cost.