Centennial Corridor

Monday, Mar 11 2013 07:17 AM

Yard sales make pitch to stop freeway's path

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Jeannie Romero checks out some Easter baskets in the yard sale at the home of Greg, left, Pamela, Ozias and Mayaince Hogan, right, Saturday. This family was one of about a dozen families holding yard sales in the Westpark neighborhood. They were raising money for a legal fight against Caltrans and to stop the Centennial Corridor from cutting through Westpark.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Residents in the Westpark area of Bakersfield held about a dozen yard sales in the rain March 9, 2013 to raise money for a legal fight against Caltrans and to stop the Centennial Corridor from cutting through Westpark. This one was on LaMirada.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    A little Saturday morning rain in March 2013 didn't seem to slow Greg Hogan, right, from making some sales in his yard sale in the Westpark neighborhood of Bakersfield. They are raising money for a legal fight against Caltrans.

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BY ANTONIE BOESSENKOOL Californian staff writer aboessenkool@bakersfield.com

A drizzle and a little chill didn't deter bargain-hunters from flooding into Westpark Saturday for the multiple yard sales residents held to raise awareness about their neighborhood and the potential impacts to it from the planned Centennial Corridor freeway.

The preferred route for the project, according to the California Department of Transportation, would bisect the Westpark neighborhood, which lies southwest of California Avenue and Highway 99. The project is meant to extend Highway 58 west to the Westside Parkway and eventually to Interstate 5. The city would buy up and completely tear down about 200 houses for the project, which is why Westpark residents are trying to garner support for their fight against the freeway. Construction would start in 2015, if Caltrans decides to build the project.

La Mirada Drive, which would see about two dozen houses taken down, was especially busy Saturday morning. Drivers inched their cars along, looking for parking spots closest to the handful of yard sales on that street.

The house Sandra Acosta has lived in for 11 years on La Mirada Drive wouldn't be taken down by the freeway but would be right next to it, she explained to one yard sale shopper.

"It's going to be noisy," he told her.

"How am I going to live here with my kids, with the smog?" she said.

"I want to keep the freeway out," Acosta said as she gave one shopper change for a $5 bill. "These are our houses. ... I'm pushing 40. I don't want to start over."

Acosta's neighbors, Greg and Pam Hogan, were hosting their own yard sale. Their garage and driveway were filled with racks of second-hand clothes and tables of toys and stuffed animals. Their home would be taken by the project, if it's built.

Greg said the yard sale at his house Saturday drew more people in the first hour than day-long yard sales they've had in the past.

"I think people have been really supportive," Pam said. Shoppers weren't just there to look for deals but also to ask questions about the freeway project, she said. "They're concerned about the freeway and just, they can't believe it's really going to happen."

Yet, Pam and her mom, Beverly Handel, said they expect the freeway will be built.

The Hogans bought the house from Handel several years ago, and Handel herself bought it in 1976, she said. She's known about the possibility of the freeway for years.

"We loved our home here. It's a nice neighborhood," Handel said.

"I think it is going to happen. I really do. I wish I could say it's not, but I think it probably will this time. I can't see them going with any other plan but Plan B," Caltrans' preferred route for the project.

The idea for the yard sales came from the Hogans' daughter, Mayaince. She's lived in the house on La Mirada for all of her 10 years.

The purpose was "to have a neighborhood garage sale so we can let people know about our community and see how important it is to save our neighborhood from the freeway," Mayaince said.

A few blocks away on Kentfield Drive, Bambi and Michael Werlinich were hosting their own sale at the house they bought in September. Their house is on the list of homes that would be torn down.

"Hopefully, people will write the mayor," Bambi said. "There's got to be other options" for the freeway.

A secondary purpose of the yard sales was to raise money for a legal fight against the project, but the main goal of the yard sales was to bring people into Westpark and acquaint them with the neighborhood, residents said.

Michael said people started showing up at his house hours before the yard sales were to start.

One man even came at 5:30 a.m. to peruse with a flashlight. By about 9:30 a.m., only a quarter of the items for sale were left, he said.

"These are pros," Michael joked. "We had bicycles, chairs, air conditioners."

But visitors were also curious about the freeway project, he added.

"We've definitely had people talk to us about it," Michael said.

"(Adult) children of parents that live around here, they've said that they feel for us and they've come out to try and support us," Bambi added.

"A lot of people (have said), 'I can't believe they're going to destroy this community. It's so nice," she said.

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