Thursday 21 September 2017

THE UNDEFINED "VILLAGES" OF BAKERSFIELD

Greater Bakersfield is attempting to weave suburbia with downtown. The common connection long promised for this ñ the east-west freeway is about to be discussed — again. The two past vision things lacking geographic context and the still to come City controlled Charette, leaves us all in a continuous limbo as to a visioned future!

Unfortunately Greater Bakersfield still assembles civic identity out of factors such as race, class, ethnicity, religion, language and neighborhoods. Even junior school students would wonder about the wild boundary gyrations for Council wards and City boundaries.

On a practical level it is these circumspect wards which need to be re-chartered. Although the vibrant major urban growth is de facto Greater Bakersfield, Kern County will never be a City. Edge county citizens have rejected obvious solutions for annexations. Bakerfolks have a need to expand and acted aggressively, without much civility, to change these boundaries. The Local Agency Formation Commission LAFCO is now the third party in this unwillingness to openly resolve urban growth and change boundary problems.

Civic identity holds to what can be done most efficiently. It is hard to separate whether the county should run a “city airport”. Who has the primary responsibility accountability and or authority for the provision of water, electricity, police and fire protection, library system, zoo or central park?

Unfortunately the neighborhoods are left out of local decision making to build a better Greater Bakersfield. Representation of local desires and conditions comes only on adverse specific issues such as freeways, higher density housing, crime, shopping centers, industrial parks and dairies. The need for schools and neighborhood zoning, better circulation and transit are left to the whims of the parcel developersand government ordinances.

How well do we really know the distinctive “Villages” by name? Olive Drive, Oildale, East Bakersfield, Old Town Kern, Greenfield, The Bluffs, Rosedale, Westchester, or Downtown. Only a few of these unique “Villages” have active associations providing input into building Greater Bakersfield. Is this lack of “Village” representation why we never seem to build a better Bakersfield?

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