“Summer Night Lights” Makes the Case for Livable Streets

Yesterday, the Mayor’s Office announced the expansion of the popular "Summer Night Lights" program, which keeps the lights on at 24 recreation centers and parks in some of the high crime areas around the city.  The purpose of the program is to provide a fun, reliable and safe alternative to gang-life for youths around the city.  By keeping the lights on, and organizing events such as basketball leagues the city wants to get kids off the streets to divert their energy somewhere safe.

While it’s hard to statistically prove the success of a program such as "Summer Night Lights," it’s not as though there’s a box on the census form for "gang membership," but the stats we can measure are promising.  From the LA_Now blog at the Times:

 

The mayor said the program, which is staged in some of the city’s
more dangerous neighborhoods, helped crime to fall last summer to its
lowest level in 40 years. “It should be at every park in every
neighborhood, but we just don’t have the resources to do that,” he
added.

The theories behind such a program are the same as those behind the Livable Streets Program: that a community is strengthened by creating gathering places that are clean and safe for people to live, work and play.  One of the hopes of a program such as CicLAvia is that people will realize that are streets are public spaces as well, and fight for them to be "open" for residents to use them 24 hours a day.

  • Wow – this is a great video and great program. What a awesome idea – and I love the fact that there is free food too.

  • If this sort of program didn’t exist in my area, we’d have a lot more violence and trouble. It costs us a lot of money to lock up humans that are reacting to poor life circumstances. I’d rather we spent the resources on them before they do something illegal, rather than pour it on after they’ve entered the criminal justice system.

    I was very worried that with poorly scheduled (i.e. open when everyone’s at work, closed when they get home) library, park, and pool closures we’d see a rise in crime. If nothing else, unions would do a lot to win public support if they were to re-time these most visible services to coincide with the busiest times in our neighborhoods. It would allow them the political capital to request the money from us that they need to keep their jobs.

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