Streetlights In Georgetown Need To Be Working So The Village Stays Safe

Photo by Terry Lynch
1200 35th Street NW
1200 35th Street NW

Written by Bill Starrels, Commissioner, Vice Chairman ANC2E, Georgetown


There were five reported sexual assaults since August 3rd in the West Village according to published reports.  The latest was on early Saturday morning, September 17 at 1:02 am when a suspect was observed grouping a young lady on the 3300 block of Prospect Street, NW. The Metropolitan Police arrested the man shortly after the incident for third degree sexual assault.  

Terry Lynch (Photo by: 1400 35th Street NW) Terry Lynch


Thursday after hearing the reports of the first four assaults, I walked the area where the assaults occurred with Terry Lynch, Executive Director of the Cluster of Congregations, to check out lighting in the neighborhood. We discovered streetlights were out on the blocks where the assaults occurred - in some cases multiple lights in close proximity were out. In surveying just the streets were the assaults occurred (Potomac, 35th Street, and near the corner of 37th and T), and nearby alleys and blocks, over 20 streetlights were found to be out or to be so dim as to effectively be out. 


One could visualize a predator lurking in of these darkened areas waiting to prey on a victim who would not be able to see her attacker.


We are calling on the City Administrator to have a survey conducted of all of Georgetown, and for that matter, all neighborhoods across the city, to determine what lights are out and get them back on.  Ideally there should be a month long sweep across the city to get the lights back on. All neighborhoods deserve to have lighting that promotes safety.


The city needs to find and use 21st century technology that keeps the lights on. When a streetlight goes out there should be an alert to the city that a repair is needed. We have reports of constituents calling in locations more than once and the light remained unrepaired. We need the lights to be functioning.


Georgetown residents and visitors alike should be able to go about their routines safely. They should know that the lights are working and the streets are well lit. I will continue to work with Terry Lynch and the Downtown Cluster of Congregations showing the commitment to making the neighborhood, and city, better and safer.

3 Comments For This Article


Just use the DC311 app for your iPhone. Super easy to report which lights are out and most of the time they are repaired within a day or two. Mega easy...


I completely agree, but would like to add that keeping our porch lights on makes a significant difference. It costs very little for this added security measure -- just $6 to $7 a year if you use high efficiency lights.

This weekend, walking along Dumbarton Street after dark, I tripped several times and walked into a tree box. It would be nearly impossible for someone with limited mobility to negotiate the uneven sidewalks. If people had their porch lights on, it would have been much easier to make that walk.

Nancy McKeon

I use the online reporting tool to let the city know of streetlights that are out (the ones you pictured are two along my regular evening dog walk, and I know they are problematic).

Usually, after I have sent the address AND the number of the particular street lamp (on a yellow "collar" around the post, high up on the lamp--it helps to have very good eyesight), I will see that the light is on the next night, and then, the night after that, it's off again!

Street lamps along 34th, 35th, N and Prospect streets (and probably elsewhere) go off and then return on a regular basis throughout the night. Sometimes I think it's me! Often as I approach a lamp it just shuts off, leaving me in darkness. the street lamp across the street from my house on N Street goes on and off all night long--10minutes on, half an hour off. I haven't done a rigorous study of its habits--this is just what I experience during an evening and then as I sleep and wake during the night.

I do like your idea of an automatic signal being sent out when a light is extinguished, but I fear the problem is greater, that there is something fundamentally wrong with the "innards" of these streetlights that no amount of new bulbs can fix.

Nancy McKeon
N Street