Saturday, January 16, 2010

Going dark in the 'hood

You may not be aware of this if you are not a dog walker or a runner who regularly transits the neighborhood at night, but as we approach the darkest depths of winter there seems to be an inordinate number of burned-out street lights here in the Park. As one of my neighbors points out, this is not only a safety issue--given the state of some of our sidewalks--but it's a security issue as well. Car prowls, for example, are much more common on darkened streets than on lighted ones, according to Benjamin Kinlow, Seattle Police Crime Prevention Coordinator.

So what's to be done? Report the problem. If you are aware of a street light that is not properly functioning, there are three ways to get that information to Seattle City Light. You can call the department at (206) 684-7056, you can email ( or you can file a Streetlight Trouble Report on line:

Whatever reporting method you decide to use, be sure that you have the necessary information in hand. This includes the closest address to the street-light location and the pole number (4202 on the pole shown below).

It is more likely that you will get action if you provide your phone number or email address when making your report. Or so I am told.
Seattle City Light says that it has 84,000 street lights to maintain, so it definitely has its hands full. It took well over a month to get a street light replaced in our neighborhood last year, and that was during the summer months. In 2008, the department began a program of automatically replacing Seattle street lights on a four-year cycle: in other words before they burn out. Phases I and II of the program replaced street lights all the way from South Seattle to Denny Way. Phase III, which begins this year, will include our area and take the replacement program all the way to 65th Street. So help is on the way.
While we're on the subject of getting City services for the 'hood, here are some other important numbers to keep in mind:
Reporting street and traffic signs that are knocked down: 684-5087; reporting graffiti: 684-5004; reporting parked cars on the street for more than 72 hours: 684-8763. And if you don't know where to call to report something not covered on this list, call the City of Seattle Information Line at 386-1234. Note also that the Madison Park Community Council has a printable phone list for City services available here.

1 comment:

  1. When we first moved here from the Chicago suburbs nearly two decades ago I was struck by (and slightly nervous about) the lack of lights in residential areas of Seattle. While it does make it easier for certain crimes to be committed, it also makes it possible to see an amazing array of stars I never thought possible in an urban area. That absence of light pollution is one of the things that makes Seattle desirable. I do agree that the existing streetlights need to be in working order, but would not like to see more. I suggest to people who feel the need for lights in their yards for extra security to install the ones that are not on constantly, but only triggered by motion. While saving energy we also can ensure that our reputation of being one of the most environmentally responsible large cities in the country remains intact. Heidi


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