Streetlights will turn off in Fresno County community of Calwa

January 17, 2013 12:34:22 AM PST
Streetlights will turn off after residents voted to not pay the extra fees for lighting their community. In a few weeks the community won't have lights, even at night.

County supervisors say they got the message. Residents don't want to pay for lights. But they're also worried about the consequences of darkness, and say they want the folks in Calwa to know what they're signing up for.

Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson said, "It's a safety concern but the vote was the vote, and you've got to respect the will of the people."

Fresno County's reserve fund has paid the electric bill for street lights in Calwa since 1986. Nearly 30 years later their account has run dry.

Fresno County Resources Manager John Thompson said, "This is a county service area, and the benefits received in a county service area need to be paid for by the residents who live in that area."

Thompson says the county held public meetings, sent out notices and told the people of Calwa they needed to pay $24 a year to keep the lights on.

Of the 400 ballots they sent out only 95 came back.

The 36 lights in Calwa will go dark, which is something that concerns Supervisor Henry Perea.

Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea said, "Anytime you have darkness you give the criminal element one more opportunity under the cover of darkness to steal your car, break into your car or your home."

Perea says it's back to the drawing board. No one wants the lights to go out.

"If it goes dark there are consequences to that and we want to make sure people know if it goes dark there are things that are going to happen in the neighborhood and they need to be prepared for it," Perea said.

Even though the residents have already voted the supervisors are sending out another letter this week urging Calwa residents to come to another public meeting so they can discuss options and not leave the community in the dark.

The lights will go out in 6 to 8 weeks.


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