Streets in Old Town lack lighting; councilman says residents have requested more street lights
The streets of Old Town Goleta lack sufficient lighting — particularly Alondra, Nectarine, Mallard, Mandarin and Gato.
Pedestrians walk down those streets at night with little light, and carrying a flashlight (or using your cell phone’s flashlight) seems to be a necessity. The News-Press confirmed that by walking down all of those streets during recent months.
If not for Christmas light decorations around one resident’s tree, Alondra Drive would be mostly in the dark. The streetlights there offer little light, as shown by the News-Press photo running with this story.
City officials and members of the Goleta City Council spoke about what the city plans to do to increase lighting.
“I will work with staff and the community to build on the investment of over 1,400 new LED streetlights that have been added across Goleta in the past few years, to ensure they are located more equitably and in a manner that increases safety,” Councilman James Kyriaco, whose district includes Old Town Goleta, told the News-Press. “I have heard from neighbors in Old Town that they would like additional street lights added, particularly on the north side of Hollister, and I will work with staff to prioritize this going forward, in a way that is consistent with neighborhood input as well as available resources.”
Currently the city does not have a current capital project in the works to add more lighting for Old Town streets, the News-Press learned.
But Goleta Public Works Director Charlie Ebeling told the News-Press, “The city of Goleta is interested in improving the safety of all its facilities, including roadways.
“While cities and counties are not obligated to provide street lighting, streetlights can improve safety,” he said.“Typically, streetlights are provided in suburban residential areas and in some commercial areas. Streetlights are also often provided at intersections, pedestrian crossings and in some cases, bike paths.
“The installation of streetlights is guided by the city’s adopted standards and by engineering judgment of licensed civil engineering and traffic engineering professionals,” Mr. Ebeling said. “When installing new or additional street lights in an existing neighborhood, the Department of Public Works works closely with the residents of the neighborhood through community meetings and workshops.
“Community concerns often range from desiring street lights for pedestrian safety to concern regarding light pollution and meeting ‘Dark Sky’s’ standards,” the public works director said. “Dark Sky standards include only installing lights where needed, not casting light onto neighboring properties and not casting light up into the sky. Additional concerns with street lighting are loss of parking in cases where a streetlight does not fit behind a sidewalk or in a parkway strip.”
“In general, street lights located on wooden power poles are owned by Southern California Edison, and standalone streetlights are owned by the city,” he said. “The city-owned street lights have been converted to LED.”
Mr. Ebeling said the public works staff has reviewed the streetlights in the neighborhood on the northside of Hollister Avenue in Old Town Goleta.
“Almost all the streetlights are located at intersections,” he said. “Many of the roadway segments between intersections are lighted by outdoor lights on private property.
“The city does not currently have a Capital Improvement Project that includes adding street lighting to the Old Town Goleta residential neighborhood,” Mr. Ebeling said. “However, public works staff do look for opportunities with all projects to add items such as street lights when possible. Working with the residents in this area would be critical for any project because of the potential for loss of parking and to determine if light cast on adjacent properties even with Dark Sky standards would be a problem.
“Many residential buildings in Old Town are very close to the roadway and would, therefore, be very close to a new streetlight,” Mr. Ebeling said.
Mayor Pro Tempore Kyle Richards told the News-Press, “I am very open to hearing residents’ concerns about the safety of our community, but I have not heard many — if any -— complaints about poor lighting on these streets in Old Town. I take the safety of our neighborhoods very seriously, and the city wants to do what we can to make sure our streets are safe for everyone…”
Mayor Pro Tempore Richards noted the city has made safety improvements in Old Town Goleta, including the 2020 completion of a project that added sidewalks and drainage improvements. Mr. Richards said the work ensured an accessible sidewalk on at least one side of the street.
“Without sidewalks, it was not uncommon to see parents pushing babies in strollers in the middle of the street. Now that every block has an accessible sidewalk, pedestrians have a safe place to traverse the neighborhood,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Richards.
“The city has already approved a project that will re-stripe a half-mile stretch of Hollister Avenue to add a designated Class II bike lane, which will significantly improve the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages,” Mr. Richards said. “This project is expected to be in construction by this summer and completed by fall. And finally, in terms of protecting the safety of persons and property, the city’s upcoming Ekwill-Hollister Avenue. This project will include the replacement of the San Jose Creek Bridge, thereby reducing potential flood hazards for a significant portion of Old Town.”
The News-Press asked Director Ebeling what the city plans to do concerning the lack of lighting.
“Street lighting improves pedestrian and bicyclist visibility and can increase the vision and awareness that drivers have relative to pedestrians and bicyclists,” Mr. Ebeling said. “The city of Goleta acquired over 1,400 streetlights throughout the city from SCE. These 1,400 street lights have been retrofitted with LED fixtures, which provide better lighting in a more energy-efficient way.”
Director Ebeling addressed concerns about Alondra, Nectarine, Mallard and Mandarin.
“The city only acquired a portion of the streetlights in Goleta. Old Town in particular has a large proportion of lights currently owned and maintained by SCE,” he said.
On Alondra, the city owns three of the five light poles — replaced with LEDs by the city of Goleta, Mr. Ebeling said.
On Nectarine, all three streetlights on this street are owned by SCE.
On Mallard, the city owns two of four light poles, replaced with LEDs by the city of Goleta.
On Mandarin Drive, all four streetlights on this street are owned by SCE, according to Director Ebeling.
Former Goleta City Councilman Roger Aceves talked about the lack of lighting.
“When I was on the Goleta City Council, I also served on Southern California Edison’s Government Advisory Panel representing our area,” he told the News-Press. “While on the panel I was successful in providing leadership in the acquisition of many light poles. Once purchased, we began retrofitting with LED lighting. It was during this process that studies were conducted based on coverage and color.
“What was not looked at was the additional coverage in Old Town. The city needs to spend time and money to ensure that we have adequate lighting for public safety. This should be a priority,” Mr. Aceves told the News-Press.
Mr. Aceves served on the city council for 16 years before he was unseated in the November 2022 election by Luz-Reyes Martin.
The News-Press asked Director Ebeling what the timeline is for these improvements.
“The remaining streetlights are still owned and maintained by SCE. Currently, SCE is undergoing its own LED conversion process, which would improve brightness to the existing light fixtures. No new poles are anticipated to be installed.”