VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Bigger and brighter lights are now installed along the 200 blocks of 19th and 20th streets at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. This is the same area where the shootings took place in March 2021, killing Donovon Lynch and Deshayla Harris.
Advocates and groups have been calling for brighter lighting along the Oceanfront for years. The string of violence at the start of 2021 triggered an even bigger call for change, including a push from the Atlantic Avenue Association.
The owner of Harvest Restaurant at the corner of 18th Street and Atlantic Avenue, Michael Mauch, is part of the association. He says he and others in the organization proposed brighter lights to be put up along the roadway in front of city council.
Now, Mauch says he is happy to finally see this progress after city council approved funding for floodlights to be installed.
Floodlights are commonly much brighter than other types of lights and cover a wider area. You can find the lights attached to the tops of the lamp posts.
"That was part of our push for public safety. If we want to have a top-notch destination, we have to have top-notch public safety," Mauch said.
The Virginia Beach Police Department sent this statement to 13News Now:
"The VBPD is committed to the safety of our community and identified the need for additional lighting at the oceanfront. Research and studies, as well as the principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design have indicated that improved lighting can have a significant impact on crime. The positive effects of enhanced lighting are numerous, which include improving visibility and decreasing concealment (which can deter potential offenders by increasing the risk that they will be seen or recognized when committing crimes). Also, police are more visible and well-lit areas help people feel safer, thus increasing activity which can further improve “informal surveillance” and be a crime deterrence. We appreciate the support of the city to fund this project, which will have a great benefit to our citizens as well as visitors."
Mauch says that in addition to making his customers feel better, he hopes this will keep his workers safe as well.
"The last couple of years have been difficult, just with the behavior, but it's really taken a turn," he said. "It'll make me feel much more comfortable knowing my employees will be going home in a well-lit and safe environment."
Mauch says that while he appreciates the progress recently made, he would like to see more funding to improve surveillance cameras and more of the floodlights in more spots along the Oceanfront.
This isn't the first time a group pushed for better lighting along the Oceanfront. The Resort Advisory Commission also asked for increased lighting in 2018 to keep visitors safe.