City Beat Blog

Thursday, Apr 10 2014 06:00 PM

CITY BEAT: Cloud seeding pays off, Delano gets cash

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Californian city government reporter Theo Douglas.

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    By Theo Douglas/ The Californian

    Mayor Harvey L. Hall cuts the ribbon at the official opening of Wall St. Cafe, 1818 L St., in downtown Bakersfield. The cafe, which had its soft opening Jan. 31 and grand opening March 21, serves a California bistro menu, according to General Manager Ken Ross, left of Hall in photo, and wines and beers from Europe and the Americas.

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    By Theo Douglas/ The Californian

    Wall St. Cafe General Manager Ken Ross, left, and Downtown Business Association Chairman Kevin Bartl, right, shake hands outside the cafe, 1818 L St., in downtown Bakersfield. It serves a California bistro menu according to Ross, and wines and beers from Europe and the Americas.

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By THEO DOUGLAS, Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

CLOUD SEEDERS AT WORK: If you appreciated last week's storms, hug a cloud seeder.

Those magnificent people in their flying machines helped Bakersfield battle its historic drought.

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ABOUT YOUR REPORTER

Theo Douglas covers municipal government for The Californian. He writes in this spot every Friday. Contact him at tdouglas@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCCityGov or on Twitter @TBCCityBeat.

"The recent storms this week have helped the snow pack accumulation in the Kern River Watershed," City Manager Alan Tandy wrote Friday in his weekly memo to the mayor and Bakersfield City Council.

"Cloud seeding operations did occur during the storm to enhance precipitation in the watershed."

The bad news: it's still a drought.

The ... not great news: the recent April showers prompted the California Department of Water Resources to revise its estimate of runoff yield, which is the amount of water we'll get from melting snow running off into waterways.

But it revised the estimate down, from 120,000 acre-feet March 1 to 100,000 acre-feet April 1.

This was not unexpected.

"Last year's runoff yield was 103,000 acre-feet during this time period," Tandy wrote in his memo, referring to April through July 2013. "With the additional snow accumulation from the recent storms, the new estimate could be between 95,000 and 100,000 acre-feet."

He was right.

One acre-foot is 325,850 gallons of water, or enough water to cover a football field at one-foot deep.

MORE MONEY, FEWER PROBLEMS

Selling more building materials and specialty and grocery store items gave Bakersfield its happy fourth quarter sales tax boost.

City officials everywhere always hope their general funds will get a financial kick out of the fourth quarter -- because that's when holiday shopping happens.

As you'll recall if you clip this page weekly and tape it to your Kelvinator, Finance Director Nelson Smith reported last month the city received $18.3 million in sales tax money during October, November and December, compared with $16.9 million during the same period in 2012.

But why? Were ugly tie futures up? Did square dinner roll dividends rise?

In Tandy's memo, Smith reveals specialty store sales yielded the biggest boost, rising more than 47 percent for the quarter, from $431,799 in 2012 to $636,189 in 2013.

What's a specialty store? A store like Dewar's Candy Shop, Smith said.

The next biggest increase came from building materials, which rose nearly 28 percent for the quarter, from about $550,000 in 2012 to $702,245 in 2013.

The third largest rise came from grocery store sales, with an increase of more than 25 percent for the quarter, from $430,707 in 2012 to $539,928 in 2013.

DATELINE: DELANO

Our northern neighbor Delano got some good news recently, Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, revealed in a tweet.

"City of Delano granted up (to) $4,896,000 for clean water and removal of nitrates from the State," Salas tweeted.

He also tweeted a March 20 photo of a letter from the state Department of Water Resources to Delano Public Works Director Roman Dowling confirming the city qualifies for the Proposition 50 clean drinking water and beach protection act of 2002.

WHAT YOU'RE SAYING

Readers wrote volumes about Fresno's punitive shopping cart ordinances and Bakersfield's interest in them.

T17: " '(Fresno City Council President Steve) Brandau said Fresno police will, however, likely make enforcing changes to municipal code a priority for only about two months -- to convey the message shopping cart theft will not be tolerated.'

Stupid! Why on Earth would anyone ever make a statement like this in the media?!

What this tells us/them is ... theft will not be tolerated, but only for about two months. At least they will do SOMETHING, though, to address the problem, I guess."

avantichamp: "The city attorney hasn't heard complaints about abandoned carts because those of us who don't like stolen carts littering the landscape don't see it worth the bother since no one in law enforcement bothers to do anything about it.

"If it mattered, I would be complaining frequently. As it is, bums take CRV recyclables to a nearby recycling center, then go to the trouble to shove their emptied stolen shopping cart and shove it back into my neighborhood and abandon it in the alley out of sight from Brundage Lane. ... "

alatinteacher: "Just take a trip to the 'East' side of town. You see them scattered in the areas of what used to be Ranch Market and now it's Villarata. As a U.S.-born American with Mexican blood, I find it very embarrassing to see lots of Mexicans who are taking their groceries to their home and then just leaving the cart somewhere in the next block.

"Try doing that in Mexico. The markets that have carts will not allow you to leave the store with it. Hey, those carts cost money and the stores in Mexico are not going to lose equipment to lazy people who are not willing to return them."

nancyg: "Seriously? They want to fine the store for cart theft? As for containment areas, they need to make them a little bigger. Or offer to help you to your car. At Dollar Tree on Niles Street, I had several bags and an energetic 3-year-old to hang on to because their carts won't leave the store. It wasn't 'til I was struggling out the door with kiddo in tow when one of the workers asked if I needed help. I was in a huff by then and told them I wouldn't be back. What if I'd bought water or milk or soda?

"As we so often do, I gave in in spite of myself and returned to the store, but I make sure it's before I pick up my little guy. They lost a little from me as I can't always arrange that.

"A 99 Cents Only store has the magnetic strips which lock up before you can get to your car. On a busy day you might not be able to park close.

"Someone needs to put on their thinking cap.

"As for people walking down the street taking groceries home in a store shopping cart, for TEN BUCKS you can buy a cart of your own and stop stealing."

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