Friday, April 10, 2009

New Street Lights Will Help Lower De la Vina Keep an Eye on Crime

Neighbors secure block grant to brighten crime-ridden area where resident was killed

By  | Published on 04.03.2009

Short-term street lighting will brighten the nights for residents of the lower De la Vina Street neighborhood, part of an effort to deter crime in the area where a man was stabbed to death in February.

Early on the morning of Feb. 22, the body of Baldemar Leal, 22, was found along the curb in the 400 block of De la Vina, near Haley Street. Santa Barbara police determined the new neighborhood resident had been dead for more than nine hours before authorities were contacted.

“It was so dark, that is why Mr. Leal was not found until the next morning,” said Christina Pizarro, who, along with several neighbors, has been organizing residents to reverse an increasing trend of crime in the area. So far, the neighbors have coordinated several cleanups and have been vocal with city officials about their needs.

The temporary lights are being installed in the 400 blocks of Bath and De la Vina streets and in the 100 and 200 blocks of West Gutierrez and West Haley streets.

In the longer term, the neighbors and the city are looking at permanent lighting. So far, said Pizarro, she has managed to get a $50,000 Community Block Development Grant to design the project, which would not only be permanent but expand to include other areas of the neighborhood.

“This is a preliminary step in establishing our short-term solutions,” Pizarro said. “We look forward to the long-term solutions.”

Six suspects have been arrested in the Leal murder investigation and three more have been arrested for alleged witness intimidation.

— Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached

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