Leave it to Layron investigates why Liberty City went dark

Parts of Miami neighborhood were without street lights for weeks

MIAMI – "Hello. I'm a concerned citizen in the Liberty City area" is how the voicemail message began.   

The caller continued: "There [are] no street lights from 87th Street, all the way to 62nd Street [on] Northwest 17th Avenue … It is unsafe for people in this area, and no one cares." 

So, after the sun went down, the Leave it to Layron team took a little drive. For more than a 20-block stretch of Northwest 17th Avenue, between 87th and 62nd streets, there were no working street lights. 

"It's real dark down here,” said Barbara Potter.  We spoke with her at the corner of Northwest 69th Street and 17th Avenue. She was on her way to Wednesday night choir rehearsal at her church. 

“We can't see anything!" she said. 

Neighbors told the LITL team the lights had been out for a while.

"About a month, or better,” said Albert Sally. He also spoke very candidly about the neighborhood.

“It's pretty rough. This [is] the bottom,” he said. “[As] low as it goes, over here."

The anonymous caller who left us a voicemail claimed the issue had been reported to Florida Power and Light multiple times, but, “no one has come out to check on the status of the street lights.” 

The LITL team contacted FPL. A spokesperson said the utility company owns and operates some street lights, but not all of them. The spokesperson said the power company supplies the electricity, but cities and counties, and homeowner associations, sometimes own maintain and operate the lights.

FPL said it does supply power to the malfunctioning street lights along Northwest 17th Ave, but the light poles are Miami-Dade County property.

FPL said the outages were reported to the power company in December. A crew went out to investigate the week of January 7 but found there was good voltage flowing from their equipment to the lights. We’re told the service ticket was then closed.

We also contacted the county’s transportation and public works department. A spokesperson sent us this statement: 

“The streetlight outage was caused by a technical problem that needed to be resolved by Florida Power & Light (FP&L). The County’s service points were not being energized and so the light circuits were not receiving power. FP&L was notified on December 21, 2018. The Department of Transportation and Public Works staff followed up with FP&L in order to expedite the repairs. The work was completed the weekend of January 11, 2019. Residents are encouraged to call 311 to report issues on roadways so they can be addressed as soon as possible.” 

The day after we reached out to the county and returned to the neighborhood, the lights were back on. 

"I'm glad you did what you did," Sally said.

Potter added: "At least we can see something around here." 


About the Author: