News Column

City Beat: The latest scoop on municipal government

June 12, 2014

By Theo Douglas,, The Bakersfield Californian

June 12--REDEVELOPMENT SPIN-OFF: Municipal redevelopment agencies -- a mechanism for cities to use property taxes to improve themselves -- were dissolved by the state legislature in February 2012.

City officials have searched for ways to redo blighted areas ever since.

On June 4, Community Development Director Doug McIsaac told the Bakersfield City Council he has a plan.

"Recently, we have been focusing on completing the unfinished business of the former Redevelopment Agency, and how do we build a more prosperous Bakersfield without that financing, too," McIsaac said.

He said his department will be identifying ways property owners in certain areas of the city can pay for improvements -- and then working with them to ease the process.

"We intend to compile an extensive database of what existing and potential incentives are suited to properties in these areas and then work with property owners and brokers to do whatever is necessary in certain situations to bridge the gap," McIsaac said.

The areas his department has identified include about 1,000 acres near the Bakersfield Municipal Airport in the southeast, another thousand acres in the southeast along Highway 58 at Mount Vernon Avenue, an area along 34th Street, and downtown.

"Despite many of the improvements we have already accomplished, there are other improvements that we want to keep working on," McIsaac said of downtown.

He said he believe that ultimately city staffers may be able to let property owners in these areas know of about 16 incentives available to them through various agencies.

TRACKING FREEWAY COSTS: The Bakersfield City Council approved the city's first early purchase of property in the path of Centennial Corridor, but not before two council members asked for regular updates on how much all this is costing the city.

That first buy, according to Bakersfield's real property manager, Don Anderson, was a hardship purchase of two residential properties next door to each other, in the 3300 block of Wood Lane.

The council voted 7-0 June 4 to approve the $417,000 purchase.

Ward 2 Councilman Terry Maxwell and Ward 5 Councilman Harold Hanson both asked the council be kept informed on expenditures.

"I think it would be helpful to know where we are in the process," Maxwell said. "It's not just the costs (for what) we're buying. It's all the costs we're incurring."

"I agree with Mr. Maxwell," Hanson said. "It scared the heck out of me that at the end of this process, we come up with $25 million or $40 million short. The more information the better when it comes to this particular situation."

City Manager Alan Tandy pointed out many cost factors play into what the city spends -- everything from mortgage interest to asbestos abatement -- but said it could be done.

"If you'll give us some flexibility to devise a report that will be more comprehensive in nature, I think it will be more useful to you," Tandy said.

At least one other property owner on the street is in negotiations with the city.

TAKIN' BAKO ON THE ROAD: The city's newest spokesmodel seats dozens and can cruise at 65 miles an hour all day long.

Give up? It's an advertisement promoting Bakersfield on both sides of a brand new tour bus routed between here and Los Angeles.

Long in the works, the ad came to life when the bus company, Silverado Stages, contacted the Bakersfield Convention & Visitors Bureau.

It's a photo collage of four classic Bakersfield images -- rafters getting ready to take a plunge, Mill Creek Linear Park, a top fuel dragster, and the "Bakersfield" arch.

"I wanted photos that were positive and would provide some images that people would not stereotypically associate with Bakersfield," said Bureau manager David Lyman.

The ad cost the Bureau $4,000 -- paid for by the hotel and motel beds tax -- and will run for five years.

It -- and the bus, which is brand new -- literally rolled out Monday.

The bus' main destination is the veterans hospital in Los Angeles, but Lyman said drivers might spot it elsewhere, too.

"I'm looking forward in the years ahead to hearing people tell me where they saw it," Lyman said. "It'll be a fun thing, like 'Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego?'"

WHAT YOU'RE SAYING: Word that Bakersfield City Manager Alan Tandy is being investigated by the Kern County District Attorney's office for an alleged assault sparked debate among visitors to The Californian's website:

Frank MacLeod: "Ha ha. I just realized. 'Alan hits me in the back of the head from behind,' Hudson said.

"With a weak, anemic, half-assed swing, and while I was wearing a helmet, but I still needed medical care. Yeah right!!"

FifthFloor: "It was kinda of a weak wristed hack, wasn't it? Hard to tell if that stick landed, guess the concussion will have to speak for itself. I predict an 'I was falling and my stick was flailing' defense. PFFFFT the swing caused the fall, not vice versa."

kcsdd2034: "Let's remember that Mr. Hudson sucker-punched a player a couple or so years ago in the head for not shaking his hand after a game. I don't like Tandy, but Hudson tends to provoke people. Tandy and Hudson should be banned from the center. They both have a history of being idiots."


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Source: Bakersfield Californian, The (CA)

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