BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
After a two-month delay, downtown residents should learn Wednesday when the city will build cul-de-sacs shielding several so-called "tree streets" from 24th Street traffic.
The Bakersfield City Council will take up the issue after delaying a decision in November because one or more members would be absent from meetings through the rest of 2013.
HOW TO GO
The Bakersfield City Council meets at 3:30 p.m. to take public statements on items not on the agenda before going into closed session. Its regular meeting resumes at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall council chambers, 1501 Truxtun Ave. Meetings also may be viewed live on cable channel KGOV. Past meetings can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/qfatap5.
The council approved a resolution in November 2012 allowing the closing and construction of cul-de-sacs on Beech, Myrtle, Spruce, Pine, Cedar and A streets south of 24th Street, provided all homeowners between 22nd and 24th streets agreed and residents with corner properties on 24th Street donated a portion of their land.
Cul-de-sacs on B and C streets were to be built when nearby 24th Street is widened. The resolution allowed the other cul-de-sacs to be built but didn't say when.
In November, however, Ward 2 Councilman Terry Maxwell asked the city attorney to amend the council's 2012 resolution specifying that the cul-de-sacs would be built when 24th Street is widened and not before -- and that if, for some reason, the council decides to not widen 24th Street, then residents would have to pay to have their streets closed.
Maxwell said he's concerned that if city crews build cul-de-sacs now, they could have to redo some of that work at the city's expense when 24th Street is widened.
"If we do it now and we've got to go back and redo it, I don't think that's fair," Maxwell said.
Residents on Myrtle and Pine streets have decided unanimously that they want their streets closed before 24th Street is widened, which could happen in about 18 months.
Myrtle Street resident Wayne Kress said he thinks the city should keep its promise to build the cul-de-sacs.
"This has never come up before in more than a year of discussions. We're simply asking the city to fulfill its obligation to the residents," Kress said.
A Street resident Vanessa Vangel, who is against the cul-de-sacs, warned residents considering closing their streets that concrete "k-rail" will be used temporarily on the 24th Street side until it is widened, and that they won't be able to park in the rounded area of the cul-de-sacs.
"It damages the aesthetics of an historic neighborhood and destroys property values," Vangel said. "My position now is (close all the streets) or none."
Residents on Spruce Street were unanimous in November about wanting their street closed, too, but according to a city report, one property owner has since withdrawn support.
City officials, who are nearly finished with their engineering and design work, estimate each cul-de-sac will cost $18,026.
City Manager Alan Tandy said his recommendation would be to build the cul-de-sacs before 24th Street is widened.
"I'm sure that the council could legally change their viewpoint," Tandy said. "It would be staff's recommendation that that wouldn't be very good harmony-building in this circumstance."
Assistant Public Works Director Nick Fidler said that if 24th Street is widened by taking land along its north side, as recommended in its Environmental Impact Report released Dec. 31, any changes to the cul-de-sacs would be very minimal.