Thursday, August 21, 2008

Let there be light!

Hillary's talking about the streetlights issue, and she and I have some differences on this. A couple of quick notes ...

- A lot of this is responsiveness, isn't it? I mean, if the residents of that community want to keep their streetlights, why are they being cut?

- The jury is out on whether or not streetlight do or do not deter crime. Much evidence says it doesn't, while other evidence says it does.

- Remember, this was all to save about $18 a year in property taxes ... though, thanks to the governor and a lack of vision in Atlanta, we're now stuck with even higher bills across the state since they're yanking the homestead exemption grant.


Blogger Nicki said...

I don't necessarily know that the people getting press are the majority. My neighbors, for example, are mostly in favor of removing streetlights, and have not fought removal at all. But those in favor generally aren't advocating, because why? Those opposed are much more motivated.

There's another reason to reduce lighting -- efficiency and light pollution. A lot of the lights being removed, at least where I am, are duplicating lighting from private structures. Arguably any neighborhood with lights spaced 100-200 feet apart rather than the old standard can lose some lights.

So I can understand why residents might not want particular streetlighyts to go away -- but I applaud the removal of streetlights in general.

9:33 AM  
Blogger hillary said...

Don't you think calling scientific studies "lies" is crazy though? Again, we agree that taxes should have gone up more than they did and the lights been retained.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

I don't necessarily think it's crazy, though it is hyperbole. I'm of the mindset that the evidence tends to support the notion that lighting doesn't effectively deter crime but, as I noted, other studies say there is a minimal impact.

So, that said, I think it's not entirely accurate to definitely say streetlights deter crime. Plus, as the report in Blake's article notes, there is limited evidence to suggest it does, but there is evidence to suggests it eases the fear of crime (and, though that sounds somewhat trivial, don't downplay it either).

Again, much of this is perception. There is a perception - rightly or wrongly - that the commission has acted callously toward the African-American community. I think that perception is not accurate and that increased dialogue - as well as a few good faith steps - is necessary to combat it, but one has to also understand why this is a big deal.

11:45 AM  
Blogger hillary said...

I was trying to point out on my blog that governmental action to ease unrealistic fears often leads to poor results. For example, three strikes and zero-tolerance laws or that war we're enmeshed in. Not that this is really anything like that scale, and I do understand the perception by the African American community in Athens that it's frequently marginalized (after all, it is), but those complaining in a misinformed way about streetlight removal are both black and white and from all economic registers. I'm also not in favor of allowing neighborhoods to levy taxes to pay for their own streetlights, as that does give richer ones a seemingly greater advantage and, as Nikki points out, leads to inefficiency and light pollution.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Some Other Mike said...

Actually, that sounds like one heck of a google maps application (with translucent circles to streetlight radii.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Some Other Mike said...

[please delete my prior, incomplete comment]

Actually, that sounds like one heck of a google maps application (with translucent circles to represent streetlight radii, and pins colored by type of crime).

5:24 PM  

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