Letters to the Editor

Thursday, Apr 03 2014 11:08 PM

Don't let drought cloud landscaping decisions

Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel famously said: "Never let a good crisis go to waste." Caltrans certainly knows that technique well.

Recently, they announced plans to remove landscaping from a section of Highway 99 through Bakersfield ("Lush freeway landscaping could go by wayside," March 26). Caltrans claims it is necessary in the effort to address the current drought. However, if that were the case, why would they delay the implementation of this "urgent" fix until 2015? And why is Bakersfield the only city affected?

The reality is Caltrans has found a politically easy way to reduce its maintenance cost at the expense of our city. Consider if they had this proposal a few years ago, when we were having record rain fall. Such a proposal would have been summarily rejected by everyone. However, in the midst of a drought, people would be more sympathetic.

John Lui, a Caltrans official, recently stated Bakersfield's was "a desert just like much of the Central Valley." However, we don't live in a desert or even a dry environment. Our city was constructed on former marshland. It has an abundance of water diverted and used to create one of the most productive agricultural counties in the nation. If all human development were to be removed, it would return to that marshland.

Droughts are cyclic in nature, but not permanent. This one will pass. However, once we lose our freeway landscaping, it is very difficult to get it back. This absurd proposal should be rejected.

Mark Cronquist

Bakersfield

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