Berkeley City Council to vote on added street lighting referral

Celine Bellegarda/Staff

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Berkeley City Council is scheduled to vote on referring a plan for installing additional street lighting to areas surrounding campus to the Public Works Commission at its regular meeting Feb. 25.

If passed, the referral will task the Street Lighting Subcommittee of the Public Works Commission with developing a streamlined process for requesting new streetlights and gathering input from various city and campus representatives. The subcommittee will then devise a plan to install new lighting to locations surrounding campus. Sites for new lighting will prioritize high-crime and high-injury pedestrian areas and will draw heavily on input from the ASUC.

About 77% of UC Berkeley students walk to and from classes every day, according to the council item. This makes it critical that areas near the campus are well lit at night when students are returning home from extracurricular activities or study sessions, the item states.

“Students have been demanding improved lighting on Southside and around campus for years, and for good reason,” Councilmember Rigel Robinson said in an email. “Students, neighbors, faculty, visitors — we all deserve to feel safe walking at night.”

The referral is the result of an ongoing discussion about the need for improved lighting that started in November 2018 at a meeting of the City/UC/Student Relations Committee, which is composed of the four council members whose districts surround the border of the campus and six representatives from UC Berkeley, the Graduate Assembly and the ASUC.

After the meeting, members of the ASUC identified 16 locations to be considered and referred them to the committee — with parts of Oxford Street, Parker Street and Channing Circle being cited as “areas of concern,” according to the ASUC Lighting Survey Report obtained through ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar.

“Students have always been a loud voice for the need for more lighting and making it known to the city that students are an important constituent,” Sarveshwar said. “Students from the ASUC have played a large role. This has been an effort that has been literally years in the making, so we’re excited about it.”

As part of the referral, the Street Lighting Subcommittee will reach out to Berkeley Police Department, UCPD and other relevant city offices for input and utilize crime data to determine the locations most critically in need of added lighting.

If the referral passes, the next step for the council would be to take the subcommittee’s findings and put forth a formal budget referral, according to Councilmember Susan Wengraf.

“It’s very exciting — it’s exactly what I had in mind when I formed this committee,” Wengraf said. “It’s one city and we all live here and we need to make it a better place for all of us.”


Jake Souza is the lead city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @jsouza_dailycal.