Local News

Sunday, Aug 19 2012 10:00 PM

Ask The Californian: Who takes care of hedges that take over sidewalks?

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Q: When a hedge in the city "takes over" a city sidewalk, will a city crew come out and "take the hedge back." There is a pyracantha hedge at Palm and Palm Ranch in Rosedale that has overgrown to the extent it is impossible to walk on the sidewalk. The owner seems oblivious. Is that a service the city provides?

-- Craig Holland

A. Darin Budak, assistant director of the Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department, answered the question in general terms, not specific to the Rosedale location.

If the offending hedge or other plant is on private property, such as a residence, it is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain it, Budak said.

First inform city code enforcement officials. They will contact the homeowners and inform them there's a safety issue.

If the property owner does not respond, a city department or contracted workers will likely take care of the problem. The cost of the work may be passed on to the homeowner

Q: In its retrospective of the big 1952 Kern County earthquakes, The Californian said there still are unreinforced masonry buildings in town. How many are there and what are they being used for, if anything?

A: There are 21 buildings scattered throughout the city that have yet to be reinforced, according to city records. The records were last updated in 2010.

More than half of the buildings are in Old Town Kern. Some appear to be vacant, though it is unclear whether they've been abandoned.

Of the ones that are occupied, they range from a mini mart to a party supplies store to an auto body shop to a bar to a Union Pacific communications center.

The buildings bear stickers that say they are unreinforced masonry buildings and may not be safe in the event of a strong earthquake.

Those stickers are mandated by the city for all buildings that have not been retrofitted to be reinforced for earthquake safety. The rule was put in place in 1998. It was changed from the original 1993 ordinance that required owners to retrofit their buildings after the owners complained of the cumbersome costs.

Money seems to be the unifying factor in why owners opt for the sticker instead of retrofitting.

Q: Hi, My name is Manuel. I own a business on Lake Street in Old Town Kern in Bakersfield. I am writing to ask: In the past 23 years I have been here, why has Lake Street between Union Avenue and Baker Street not been fixed? There are very big pot holes, the fence along the canal is almost wide open there are small children getting into the canal and swimming because of how wide open it is. The street looks like it can just collapse at any time into the canal. I just want to know if there are any repairs pending on this street, because to be honest, I lose customers because of the way it looks. Please let me know. Thank you.

-- Manuel Garcia

A. We asked city of Bakersfield staff, and Arnold Ramming with the Bakersfield Public Works Department responded:

Staff in the city's Streets Maintenance Division will review the street to determine what they can do about the potholes in the pavement.

Staff in the city's Engineering Division will work with the canal owner to determine what can be done about the gaps under the fence.

Q. I live in a quiet neighborhood except for one young person who has no muffler on his car. When he starts it at 6 a.m. and goes and returns many times throughout the day, it is very annoying and disturbing. He has said he won't fix it. What can be done to get the police to issue a "fix-it" ticket and then follow up?

-- Harold Wilson

A. California vehicle code states that "every motor vehicle subject to registration shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise, and no muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass, or similar device." The law also forbids anyone from modifying a vehicle's exhaust system to "amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of the vehicle."

Law enforcement officers recommended the nettled neighbor contact the California Highway Patrol if he lives in the county and the Bakersfield Police Department if he lives in their jurisdiction.

The neighbor should provide a vehicle description, address and the time of day when the individual drives his car, California Highway Patrol Officer Robert Rodriguez said. The highway patrol could send an officer and depending on the officer's discretion, the offender could be issued a fix-it ticket or sent to the state referee to examine the vehicle. Rodriguez said a mufflerless vehicle would still count as having modified a vehicle's exhaust system.

Bakersfield Police Sgt. Joe Grubbs said people in a similar pickle could call the police department at 327-7111 to report the problem and someone would be sent to contact the noisy neighbor. However, the issue would be low priority so it would "probably take (police) some time to get out there," Grubbs said.

Ask The Californian appears on Mondays. Submit questions to asktbc@bakersfield.com or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.

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