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Students raise concerns about lack of street lights in neighborhoods around Cal Poly

Posted at 7:22 PM, Oct 15, 2019

For some Cal Poly students, walking home and feeling safe doing so, don't go hand in hand.

"I feel I should feel safe walking home by myself. I shouldn't feel like I have anything to worry about,” said Sonia Koss, Cal Poly student.

She says that's because of the lack of lighting on city streets.

"I have a class that gets out at 9 p.m., so walking home from that you definitely notice there's a lot of dark spots, so it's kind of sketchy,” said Rachel Sealund, Cal Poly student.

"A little terrifying walking home and I know when I walk to my boyfriend's at night there's one part on California before you cross the bridge, there's no lighting at all and it's terrifying. I normally run through that part just because I'm scared,” Koss said.

The City of San Luis Obispo heard students' concerns at a community forum in 2017.

Students called for there to be more lights added to the surrounding Cal Poly neighborhoods.

City officials say they are working on it but the budget is making it a slow process.

"We've got enough funding roughly for three per year. Right now, there's 2,500 lights in our system. To bring it up to today's standard would essentially be the doubling of that, so we're talking about millions and millions of dollars worth of investment,” said Derek Johnson, San Luis Obispo City Manager.

Recently, Cal Poly students reported an increase in Peeping Toms and prowlers in off-campus neighborhoods and some believe the lack of lighting is a contributing factor.

"Currently, it's pretty dim lit, so darkened areas around properties that don't have the flood lights or motioned censored lights, they're going to be more attractive to the prowling type activity,” said Sgt. Trevor Shalhoob, San Luis Obispo Police Department.

Cal Poly student Sonia Koss says until more lights are added, she will have to be on high alert.

"I always tell people when I'm walking home alone just because you never know what will happen,” Koss said.

Police say officers have responded by significantly increasing patrols around the Cal Poly neighborhood with some in marked and unmarked cars, bicycles, and plain-clothed officers.

Johnson says the city council has invested more than $70,000 to enhance the street lighting, which they believe will help improve safety.