Local News

Monday, Aug 26 2013 12:23 PM

'First Look': Big plans in the making for Bakersfield's future

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    Kern Council of Governments director Ahron Hakimi and Californian Editorial Page Editor Robert Price talk about the 'Directions to 2050' public workshops on community planning on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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Metro Bakersfield can go one of several ways in terms of future housing and transportation development. The Kern Council of Governments, the region’s transportation planning agency, has reduced those many possible avenues down to four, and now organization officials want to know how the public feels about them.

Tonight they’ll ask.

Kern COG director Ahron Hakimi talked about the public workshops on “First Look with Scott Cox,” encouraging the public to attend the next meeting so that their voices can be heard.

The second of the two workshops is tonight from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Fresno Pacific University’s Bakersfield Center, 11000 River Run Blvd., room 203.

Editorial Page Editor Robert Price asked Hakimi about the four proposed plans.

Scenario 1, Hakimi said, would involve essentially maintaining the status quo, with a strong focus on single-family homes and a gradual continued expansion of metro Bakersfield’s overall footprint; Scenario 2 would be to scale back and redevelop in the downtown area; Scenario 3 would be to work on renovating structures that aren’t serving a purpose and Scenario 4 would involve investing in transit and bike transportation, in hopes of making downtown more vibrant.

“We aren’t knocking down any single family homes; we actually have 30,000 plus homes in the books (for future development), but we want to scale down and build lofts or townhouses in the downtown area,” Hakimi said.

Simulcast host Scott Cox said he would like to be able to walk to work everyday but there are few residental options available.

The more we focus on downtown redevelopment and infill building, Hakimi said, the less those residents would be spending on utilities, fuel and other household expenses.

“It would be awesome to walk down the street for dinner without having to get in a car — and you can afford those night-outs because you’d have that extra cash that you would otherwise be spending on utilities,” Cox said.

Hakimi also gave updates on the extension of the Westside Parkway — it will be completed by 2015 — and the widening of 24th Street from four to six lanes. That project is expected to begin in the next three to four months, Hakimi said.

Another big project in the making the Morning Drive/Highway 178 interchange, which should pave the way for development in an underserved area of northeast Bakersfield. The construction is expected to take 21 months.

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