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City of San Diego tackling backlog of thousands of street light repairs

The city has budgeted for 18 electricians, but at the moment has only 11, and is now working to recruit more.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Broken street lights can often impact the safety of a neighborhood. San Diego city leaders say they are committed to fixing this ongoing issue, at a more rapid pace.

Every year, the City of San Diego receives thousands of requests for street light repairs, which currently take on average about nine months to complete. 

Currently, there is a backlog of about 5,000 requests, including in Mount Hope, where residents say well-lighted streets are essential to safer neighborhoods.

"It's pretty dark here and and it's pretty scary walking here in the streets," said Mount Hope resident Sarai Molina, who walks her dogs in the Dennis V Allen Park every night..

She said she has complained to the city about broken street lights in her community, but has yet to see action.

"I don't think they're doing a good job," she told CBS 8. "They could do better,"

Resident Karen Murray comes to this same park with her granddaughter.

She said that, while she feels the city does a good job maintaining the street lights here, she added that a lack of lighting makes a huge difference.

"As we go back it's going to be darker, and if the street is not well lit, then it's not safe," Murray said. 

"We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work: and that's what we've been doing," said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. 

He said the city is committed to making street light repairs a priority. Currently, repairs take about 270 days to make on average, from the time a request is made to completion.

"We think it is just switching on a light bulb, but it is actually far more complex than that," Gloria said.

Challenges to making rapid repairs range from aging infrastructure to limited resources, including the pressing need to hire more electricians

The city has budgeted for 18 electricians, but at the moment has only eleven. The city is now working to recruit more electricians.

"With all the construction we have in the private sector right now, it can be difficult to fill these vacancies as quickly as we would like," Gloria added. 

"It is a massive amount of work to do and a relatively small amount of staff," said Chief Innovation Officer Kirby Brady, who leads the city's Performance and Analytics department. 

She said her department uses a data-driven strategy to approach street light repairs throughout the city, in order to optimize the process in each council district.

"We are making sure they are getting to all of the highest priority repairs in that community," she added. 

Sarai Molina is looking forward to repairs being done in her community.

"It would make a difference and I think a lot more people would come out too," Molina said. "They'll feel safer for sure!"

For more information on requesting street light repairs in your community, as well as making other requests to the city through the Get It Done app, click here

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