Street lights a concern for Ballard District Council

Late last year the Ballard District Council lined up a group of volunteers to check the street lights in Ballard. This is the letter that the president of the BDC wrote to Seattle City Light Superintendant Jorge Carrasco.

Dear Mr. Carrasco:

As I am sure you can appreciate, good street lighting is a major factor in providing a safe and inviting environment for everyone using our streets. The Ballard District Council, increasingly concerned about reports of non functioning street lights in our neighborhoods, asked for assistance from local volunteers to determine the extent of the problem. Seventeen volunteers walked the arterial streets in the Ballard district between December 21 and December 30 and reported 198 street lights out or malfunctioning.

We recognize that City Light is beginning the third year of a four year effort to relamp the entire city. According to the schedule, relamping will occur south of NW 65th St in 2010 and north of NW 65th in 2011. We believe well lit streets are safer for pedestrians and that 2011 is too long to wait for some areas.

The Ballard District Council is asking that your department address the street light deficiencies identified in the attached spreadsheet. The spreadsheet identifies street light deficiencies by location and pole number or inventory number. Also attached is a map which identifies those streets in the Ballard district which we surveyed.

We thank the City Light crews that have been responsive and already repaired some of the lights reported by the volunteers. We realize that the crews which perform this vital work already have a long list of reported street light servicing needs. We ask that they continue to prioritize our district’s arterials. Please let us know what timeline we can expect for addressing the remaining outages.

We now realize that street light repairs are driven primarily by citizen report. We encourage you to develop a system that does not rely solely on the random acts of citizens.

Jennifer Macuiba
President, Ballard District Council

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

26 thoughts to “Street lights a concern for Ballard District Council”

  1. Did I miss it?

    Crime seems to be exploding in Ballard. Street lights are out. No mention here in this request of the safety implications there?

    Does the “Ballard District Council” have any idea that people are getting stabbed, mugged and robbed on our dark streets regularly? Or is that just not OK to mention because we only want HAPPY! talk?

  2. Does anyone know what type of lights the city is using to replace streetlights with? I sincerely hope not LED…!! LED streetlights might reduce crime because no one can stand walking at night anymore. Is there a “sodium lamps for Ballard” facebook group yet?

  3. To the armchair quarterbacks, the issue of safety and the corelation to well lit streets was made in the letter, despite my perfect memory of folks poo-pooing that very same opinion being stated here on MyBallard early last year, prior to the near explosion of crime in this neighborhood.
    Thanks for working towards getting the street light situation improved here in Ballard, Jennifer.
    Let us know when you get a response.

  4. Forgive my ignorance on the subject, but would street lights that go on and off intermittently throughout the night be considered malfunctioning, or is that just how they're supposed to work? There are several in my area that go on for twenty minutes, go off for twenty minutes, and it happens with such regularity that I've come to assume that they're meant to do that (although it doesn't make much sense).

  5. Why stop at arterials? I think 10 volunteers on bicycle could survey the entity of Ballard in about 2 hours.

    I came up with a list of over 100 street lights all by myself along Elliott and 15th south of the Ballard Bridge in about an hour and a half.

  6. As far as what roads were selected, you have to start somewhere with the volunteers and timeline available.

    Michael, are you volunteering to organize, lead, make sure reports are submitted, and followup on a Ballard wide effort? I'm sure your efforts would be appreciated. Ballard District Council area includes roughly ship canal, to 105th (and includes all of Blue Ridge), and 3rd Ave NW to Puget Sound.

  7. That's not a bad idea, actually. Cooperation with the bike corps, serving as the eyes of Ballard…

    That's sound like it'd be a really helpful resource, if put at the BDC's disposal.

  8. Actually, Jennifer (who is also one of my wonderful neighbors) is an avid cyclist. But, if you'll note, the data the BDC and its volunteers provided included location and pole number (or other ID), so it's not just a ride-by activity.

    But I'm sure Jennifer would be happy for some more volunteers though.

  9. Thank you, Jennifer and volunteers, for the hard work! You deserve our praise…not our criticism! I'm concerned that it takes the city so long….years….to get around to the lights in just ONE neighborhood. Ballard really is becoming a breeding ground for crime…petty and violent….deep into the neighborhoods where lots of street lights are out, reported and still out. I have reported several in my neighborhood, but frankly, I don't walk much at night anymore because I don't feel safe…and that's one of the reasons…so many lights out and for a long time.

  10. For me, it was a ride up, pull over, shine a light on the pole and pull a pencil and small notebook from my pocket, activity. I noted my route, the pole #, the street, the nearest cross street, and the nearest house # along with the type of light malfunction.

    I'm volunteering to help…but not to run the whole ball of wax. I have enough large projects on my plate at the moment. If someone has a team of 5-10 people willing to help and get out on bikes, I do think that bicycling it is a very efficient way to tackle the task.

    I am in the phone book.

  11. My husband and I have reported burnt out street lights to the city several times and nothing has happened. The last we heard, someone said they could send someone out in about 6 weeks. There are two lights out in front of my building and it makes me more than a little uneasy when I take our dog out late at night and several intoxicated people walk by in the dark. Time for the city to think about safety.

  12. Last summer the city said that they were backlogged, and it could take several months for them to get to the many lights I reported to them. They still aren't done.

  13. A couple tips for reporting malfunctioning numbers. Most poles now have a 7-digit unique identifier (it's the vertical black-on-yellow, not the smaller pole inventory number), so you don't need to bother with pole number, house number, street, etc. City Light's web form isn't set up for the new ID yet, but that's fine: just make a list of the IDs & malfunctions and email them to

    Also, if you don't have pen/paper on your walk or ride but do have a cell phone, compose a text message with the numbers and save it as a draft. When you get home, open it up and copy the numbers into an email.

  14. PS Last time I reported a dead light, SCL reported their repairs were running at about a 60-day delay. So re-reporting them after just 30 days is probably overkill, and whining more probably won't make them get fixed any faster (unless your whining magically increases the City Light budget).

  15. Nothing is wrong with LED street lights. They have been tested in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco and in parking lots of big boxstores, and parking garages of major universities and been effective. Why? because the light spectrum is better than that of high pressure sodium also if it is around 4300k it is healthier. They cut nightime energy use at least in half. If your HPS lights are cycling on and off, they have reached the end of their useful life. LEDs will last at lease 3 times as long in most instance, probably much longer reducing maintenance needs so your overworked maintenance teams can keep up. Google Betaled for pictures.

  16. Yes, the city is planning to switch over all the lights to led. The results of the capital hill survey haven't even been released. They just installed them in South Park and they are blinding. It's actually harder to see now as the shadows are pitch black, and everything else, including our house, is illuminated with a deathly white glow.
    Beware Ballard before they do this to you too!

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