The Public Speaks … Will Kern County Government Listen?
The Kern County Council of Governments (COG) has conducted robust outreach the past few years to identify priorities for how far and how fast the county should grow. In response, the people of Kern County have made themselves clear. They strongly support:
- maintaining existing roads;
- creating safer sidewalks and bicycle lanes;
- expanding public transportation options;
- conserving energy and important agricultural land;
- revitalizing downtown Bakersfield; and
- ensuring cleaner air for themselves and their children.
At public workshops on Aug 21st and 27th, Kern COG planning staff presented four different potential growth scenarios, ranging from “business-as-usual” (Scenario 1) to accelerated transportation and downtown revitalization (Scenario 4.) At both workshops, the public’s views were very clear: 70-75% at the first workshop and 57-60% at the second workshop chose Scenario 4 as the “best scenario.” Now, it’s up to Kern COG to implement that vision.
Kern COG staff is presenting the workshop results to its Regional Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC) this afternoon. We need to be sure that the public’s voice is heard at this meeting. Right now the meeting materials do not include any information on the workshop results. Hopefully staff will report the results verbally; but if not, we need your help to make sure the RPAC knows the public’s preferences.
The RPAC meeting begins today, Wednesday, September 4th, at 1:30 pm at the Kern COG Board Room, 1401 19th Street, in Bakersfield. The discussion is item #IV on the agenda. If you can’t attend in person, please call in to the meeting starting at 1:30 pm: call-in number is (312) 878-3080, access code: 586-617-702.
The main messages to convey include:
- the public overwhelmingly voted for Scenario 4 as the best scenario;
- the COG needs to reflect Scenario 4 in the alternatives to be studied in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which is the next step in this planning process.
Clearly the Kern County public is interested in real change, and real change that happens sooner rather than later. While some people may be concerned about how to fund such change, we need to stop talking about the lack of funding and start looking at how existing funding can be reallocated and new sources secured to meet the needs of Kern County into the future.