Residents on Gregg Street in Empire are considering whether it's worth up to $212 apiece to install street lights.
The group led by Cliff Peterson asked city officials how to get lights installed in hopes better lighting would reduce vandalism and criminal activity in the area. He said residents have installed fluorescent lighting on their own properties to deter vandals, but believe city street lights would do more good.
However, at a meeting this week with Supervisor Pete Livermore, City Manager Linda Ritter and representatives from the engineering and sheriff's departments, they were told that isn't necessarily true.
Chief Deputy Steve Schuette said lights probably wouldn't make any difference in their neighborhood crime rate. He told the group there have only been 18 calls after dark in the past two years on that street while a similar neighborhood with lights a block or so away had 20 calls. And most of those, he said, were nuisance calls, such as noise complaints.
"It's not going to have an impact," he said. "We're not talking about a high-crime area."
Livermore told the group even so, the city can help the residents put in lights if they're willing to contribute to the installation cost.
He said normally the developer puts in the lights and the cost is part of a homeowner's purchase price.
On Gregg Street, no lights were installed when the homes were built so the residents would have to assume part of the cost.
To serve the area, City Engineer Larry Werner said they would need five street lights at a cost of about $3,100 apiece. Werner said Sierra Pacific Power Co. will cover $1,500 of that, leaving a balance of $1,600 per light pole.
Livermore said the city would split that with the 40 homeowners along Gregg Street, leaving them with a cost of $100-$200 per residence to put in lights.
After the lights are in, he said, the city would pay the electric bills which average $30-$50 a month per light.
"But we wanted to make sure they understand just getting street lights won't change the crime pattern in their neighborhood," Werner said.
Ritter echoed those comments: "We made that very clear because we don't want them to think if they get street lights it will make all the crime go away."
"Lights aren't for crime prevention," she said. "They're for safety."
Werner said utility company crews will mark the potential locations of those lights probably today so residents can see exactly where they would be. He and Ritter said at least one resident commented at the meeting she didn't want a street light shining next to her home.
Ritter said that's one of the issues they have to consider in deciding whether they want the city to order the lights installed.
"It's really up to them," she said.
-- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.