Lights out for one Stockton neighborhood on county land

The county, which hasn't raised rates since 1989, wants to increase the light fee from $17 to $40 per year and the storm drain fee from $18 to $84 per year. (August 4, 2017)

Maria Gonzalez is afraid of the dark and not for herself, but for kids.

"Cars come really fast around this corner. They're not going to see them and they're going to run them over," said Gonzalez.

Rodriguez has lived in her Tallahatchey Terrace neighborhood in East Stockton for nearly 40 years.

But now, the county is poised to turn out her street lights because property owners, like herself, have not paid the increased fees the county wants.

"Nobody wants to give government more money. Everybody thinks government's wasteful so we're not really surprised by that. But we are surprised people aren't willing to pay what it costs to provide basic services to them," said Jim Stone, Deputy Public Works Director for San Joaquin County.

It's not just lights, but a storm drain pump that will be shut off, too. The county, which hasn't raised rates since 1989, wants to increase the light fee from $17 to $40 per year and the storm drain fee from $18 to $84 per year.

But state law gives them the right to vote. There are 107 property owners in the special assessment district so 107 ballots were sent out, but only 20 ballots were returned with 16 of the 20 who voted no. 

Since more than half were against paying more, the county will turn off the lights.

"I don't want to get out of my car when it's dark. I'm 70 years old," said  Joyce Karenke, who works at night.

The county says it is working with PG&E to figure out a date and time to turn out the lights. However, the county says there is still hope.

"The ball is in the property owner's court. We're not going to spend more of their money than we don't have," said Jim Stone.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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