SAN DIEGO – The City of San Diego is cracking down on streetlight vandalism downtown. Homeless there have been opening the bottom of the lamp posts, to then steal or destroy the wires inside. Now, a company from Orange County is providing a new tool that could fix the problem.
Streetlight vandalism has been an ongoing issue leaving streets pitch black after sundown. So much so, FOX 5 caught one unsheltered person crouching near a streetlight Tuesday along E Street, tampering with the electricity to charge his phone, which has caused surrounding poles to stop working in the past.
Walking along the Gaslamp Quarter, you may be able to catch unhinged openings on the back of a streetlight where extension cords will connect power from the pole to nearby encampments.
“It’s not really safe for our customers and people coming and going to our businesses here,” shared Mark Hamilton who owns ‘Feel it Records’ on E Street and 9th Avenue.
A solution to the recent vandalism and theft could all begin with a mere box. In response, the city says it’s installing tamper proof covers at the base of each streetlight.
Kurtis Magargee and his team with Light Pole Systems, an Orange County based company which specializes in solving light pole problems, designed some of the lockboxes you’ll spot on lamp posts downtown. They’re working with the city to prevent further theft and to create a safer environment in San Diego and beyond.
“Unfortunately, this is high voltage and what these covers allow the city to do is prevent people from hurting themselves,” Magargee explained.
According to the City of San Diego, this year 5,084 streetlights have been reported in need of repairs alone. So far, 3,679 cases have been addressed.
Hamilton says he reported the issue outside his store through the city’s ‘Get It Done’ app, where wait times average at around 200 days to fix. He says there’s been progress but there’s a long road ahead.
“A little bit of work is better than nothing but I think we still have more work to do,” Hamilton said.
This Thursday, the city will address the issue further at its Active Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting with an in-depth report on streetlight maintenance and repairs.
There are currently about 60,000 plus streetlight across the city of San Diego with a total of 18 electricians, eight utility workers and one equipment operator; one of the main reasons the city says they’re having a hard time fixing the current 5,000 outages.