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By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
By THEO DOUGLAS, Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
CALTRANS' READING LIST: The long-awaited draft environmental impact report on Centennial Corridor -- Bakersfield's most controversial major highway improvement project at the moment -- comes out Friday.
Why is it so contested? Partly because the Corridor's most controversial segment connecting Highway 58 to Westside Parkway would require demolition of more than 199 single-family homes and 36 businesses.
In January, the West Park Home Owners Association, which represents residents in the freeway's path, took the city to court, challenging its plan to borrow millions to match some of the $630 million in federal earmarks that former U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield, secured to expand highways in metropolitan Bakersfield.
That lawsuit is still in court, and is estimated to cost the city anywhere from $175,000 to $225,000 to defend -- but not, City Manager Alan Tandy has said, jeopardize the build.
The Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement, as it's officially known, will be available in hard copy at 12 locations including Thomas Roads Improvement Program offices, 1600 Truxtun Ave., and the city's Community Development Department, 1715 Chester Ave. It will also be online at http://tinyurl.com/oo5yuzs or at bakersfieldfreeways.us.
A 60-day comment period on the EIR starts Friday and ends July 8.
Comments can also be mailed to Jennifer H. Taylor, Office Chief, Central Region, Environmental Southern San Joaquin Valley, 855 M St., Suite 200, Fresno, CA, 93721.
Caltrans will hold a hearing on the project from 4 to 7 p.m. June 11 in the rotunda at the Kern County Administrative Center, 1115 Truxtun Ave.
BOTTOM'S UP READY TO POUR?
Bikinied Bakersfield baristas -- the go-to caffeine delivery system for Central Valley coffee chain Bottom's Up Espresso -- are likely on the way.
The latest Bottom's Up franchise, at 13011 Stockdale Highway across the street from Bakersfield Christian High School, has been tidied up and displays three business certificates on an inside wall.
BCHS officials have said the business' location would put it in conflict with the high school.
On Thursday, however, Karen Dierks, BCHS vice president of institutional advancement, said the school is not involved in opposition to the Modesto-based drive-through coffee kiosk company, which recently opened a Clovis outpost.
Bikini-clad baristas are a hallmark.
BCHS's last day of instruction is May 23.
Also Thursday, the company's office manager said no opening date has been set -- and city Building Director Phil Burns said he can't find any permits for the drive-through coffee kiosk's new signs.
If the company lacks a sign permit, Burns said it can go through a correction process and get one without jeopardizing the opening.
CITY SPAY-NEUTER VOUCHERS
Bakersfield enters the spay-neuter game with its proposed 2014-2015 budget, revealed at Wednesday's Bakersfield City Council meeting.
The budget's not approved yet, but officials propose paying for $20,000 worth of $40 vouchers -- AKA 500 vouchers.
RESIDENTS SAY YUCK TO TRUCKS
Sixty-five Ward 7 residents added their names to a petition that Wayne Miles presented to the council Wednesday.
In it, neighbors of GIC Transport, 2055 McKee Road, say they're fed up with the company's trucks speeding, littering and keeping them awake.
"Mainly these are health hazards and child hazards we're concerned about," Miles told the council. "They were not honest with code enforcement about nighttime operation."
GIC Manager Albert Cruz said the company has been there since 1999 -- before residents' houses were built -- and it tries to be a good neighbor.
Cruz said the company has paved portions of its road that were previously unpaved and has posted speed limit signs.
"Of course we're looking into getting into a better place. It takes time to get permits and it takes money to build buildings," Cruz said. "We're not trying to cause no problems to anybody around here."
LIKE WATER FOR GOLF
Nearby residents and players at the Rio Bravo Country Club golf course were muchly aghast at news the city planned to stop watering it.
More recent news is the water will not stop and officials are so sorry.
"The Water Department was doing its due diligence in a drought year and going through obligations and opportunities to focus what little quantity of river water we do have on residential and commercial needs," Tandy explained. "They may have given out an indication prematurely. It was a little faux pas but it was corrected before it was implemented."
Mayor Harvey Hall tried to drive the city out of the sand trap at Wednesday's council meeting.
"Water delivery did not and will not stop," Hall said. "We apologize for the error and any inconvenience."
WHAT YOU'RE SAYING
Commenters on The Californian's website were not impressed by news of bullet train construction stopping, for now, at Bakersfield city limits:
jltulock: "Tandy? You are strong, one of the few to stand up to the evil of the Authority. You are so easily swayed by a meaningless resolution? If they had the money to build further south and destroy a swath of Bakersfield they would, and they will. Sixty days notice? Six years would be more like it."
Nevada Smith: "Bullet train? Why do news organizations keep calling this joke of a train a 'bullet train'?"