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By Donna Dyke, Capistrano Beach
As a bona fide “Capo old-timer” (a senior citizen, 50-year resident and former member of the now defunct Capistrano Beach Community Association), I think it’s time I spoke out about the lack of public street lighting in Capistrano Beach.
In years past, as is still true today, we prided ourselves on being a unique and charming community. No one was going to tell us what color we could paint our doors or houses, and no one could force us to pollute our area with street lights that would prevent us from enjoying the beautiful stars.
Well, folks, those times have changed. With Prop 47 spilling thousands of formerly incarcerated drug and alcohol offenders onto California streets, local police tell me they can’t issue more than a minor ticket if they see someone openly using drugs on my street. Add to that the fact that we have close to 40 group homes filled with troubled addicts, and some of those homes offer little or no supervision because we have virtually no state or federal oversight to protect the recovering residents and preserve our residential neighborhoods. This may partly account for the steady increase in nuisances, petty crimes and some pretty scary stuff happening right next door to many of us.
At the same time, some great things are happening in our community and, thanks to Capo Cares, we’re starting to see some landscaping and other improvements. And in a couple of years we may even see Doheny Village get a long-overdue cleanup. Younger families with small children are being attracted to the area and are buying and renovating some of the older homes and giving them much-needed facelifts. Imagine how a young mom and dad must feel when they realize their new dream home is on a street with sometimes multiple group homes—some right next door to each other—filled with an ever-changing population of troubled people. Don’t you think those families would feel a tad more secure if they could at least see what’s going on at night?
Many of our streets are so pitch black that you can hardly see your hand in front of your face, let alone who’s going through your trash or mailbox or trying the handle on your parked car. It’s time for this old-timer to face the facts: times are changing and we need at least some minimal lighting to keep people safe. It’s sad but true that it’s simply not always safe to be stargazing on our streets these days. So let’s be practical and turn the lights on. Safety trumps charm in my book.
And, hey, you can still paint your door purple and put that flamingo in your yard, and the pizza guy may actually be able to find your house. We’ll still be unique and charming but a little safer too.
Come on, fellow citizens, let’s join with Capo Cares, our new “community association,” and ask the city to turn the lights on. We need to work together to keep our neighborhoods safe and beautiful. Let’s make sure the Dana Point City Council knows they represent Capo Beach too.