Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Forde Shorts

The Forde Files No 75

State takes precedence – On July 7, 2014 the Tehachapi City Council repealed a municipal ordinance it enacted in 2010 prohibiting sex offenders from loitering within 300 feet of any public or private school, park, school bus stop, children's facility or child daycare center. "On April 30, 2014," City Attorney Tom Schroeter wrote in his report to the city, "the City received a letter from California Reform Sex Offender Laws (CRSOL) advising the City of the case of People v Nguyen (2014) 222 CA 4th 1168 and a similar unpublished decision by the Fourth Appellate District (Orange County). The case determined that Orange County and the City of Irvine ordinances restricting movements of sex offenders and similar to Tehachapi's were preempted by state law and were unenforceable. In its analysis, the court reviewed all state legislation impacting sex offenders and determined that it was the state's intent to 'occupy' the field which means that no local ordinances may be adopted to provide further restrictions on sex offenders. The CRSOL letter threatened to sue the City if it did not repeal its ordinance." Schroeter advised the Council that Tehachapi's ordinance is preempted by state law and would likely lose a legal challenge by CRSOL.

Mountain bike park progress – The City Council voted $25,000 to pursue the concept of a year-round mountain bike park in the Tehachapi area (tentatively proposed on Lehigh Cement property north of the city). The British Columbian firm of Gravity Logic has done a preliminary assessment of the viability of the project, and have told the city that such a park can attract 100,000 riders to the area within five years of construction. The funds will be spent on property acquisition, design and contacts with potential investor-partners.

Meadowbrook rumblings – The Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Park District's $1.7 million proposal for improvements to Meadowbrook Park – including a misting station, dance floor, exercise stations, rock climbing area, play area, basketball courts and, separately, a bicycle pump track -- triggered a response from Ed Kennedy, president of the Golden Hills Community Services District Board of Directors, requesting that all plans for the park be placed before the GHCSD board for approval. TVRPD Manager Matt Young responded with a letter detailing the TVRPD position and referencing the original grant deed of 1986 in which GH deeded 8.13 acres to the TVRPD for the purpose of creating a park. At the July 15 TVRPD board meeting, board members urged personal interaction between TVRPD and GH to promote a smooth relationship. "In good will they gave us some land," said board member Brian Duhart, suggesting the parties meet in a less formal setting over "cocktail weenies and Diet Coke in little plastic cups." Board member Craig Mifflin said that Golden Hills is crucial and important to TVRPD, and TVRPD has to regain the trust of Golden Hills to overcome "30 years of bad blood." Mifflin said, "Why not provide Golden Hills with the plans? It gives us an additional buy-in."

Walmart update – Only ghost attorneys attended the case management conference July 11 of the Tehachapi First v. City of Tehachapi civil case before Judge Kenneth Twisselman (Tehachapi First is attempting to stop the construction of a Walmart Supercenter on Tucker Road), as audio conferencing at Kern County Superior Court replaced personal appearances. The voices of Mark R. Wolfe, representing petitioner Tehachapi First, Patrick Carrick, representing the City of Tehachapi and attorney Ms. Osaki for Walmart politely thrashed out procedural matters after some tinkering with the loudspeaker volume in the courtroom. The city wants Twisselman to find – by discharging the writ of mandate -- that all environmental requirements have been satisfied in the three-year-long battle, and had hoped for a definitive answer on July 11. Wolfe, however, added a new layer of petitioner requests, asking that the city provide all emails, internal correspondence and memoranda between the city and Walmart. Giving both parties time to gather and review documents, Twisselman set the next hearing for Sept. 5 at 3 p.m.

Hospital over the hump? – Difficulties that have been plaguing construction of the Tehachapi Replacement Acute Care Hospital looked less formidable after a special meeting of the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District Board of Directors on July 9. The board approved an agreement with SeaStar Enterprises for a new Inspector of Record (IOR) – who must be on duty every day to oversee OSHPD (Office of Statewide Planning and Development) construction – and authorized Interim CEO Eugene Suksi to sign a new structural concrete contract with Santa Clarita Concrete to rehabilitate and finish the job of the original prime contractor, who was terminated. Santa Clarita was the second-lowest bidder for the original contract. Forde Files sources say that overall construction managers Bernards/Colombo preferred Santa Clarita to begin with, but they had no choice in the award. State law requires that awards go to the lowest bidder in this type of job in the absence of any egregious reason to the contrary. Project Manager Stacy Pray said that $1.1 million remains of the original $3.6 million concrete contract ($2.5 million in work performed). The Santa Clarita Concrete bid of $2.3 million includes $300,000 to correct the previous contractor issues. Suski was to coordinate with the new IOR so Santa Clarita could get right to work. The overall project deficit at this point is $424,000. Half of the $4 million contingency fund has been spent. The cost to complete the entire project is $86.5 million. The board also approved an agreement with a new group that provides emergency room doctors, Sillect Integrated Medical Group. Buena Vista, the current ER providers out of Bakersfield – who by all reports are doing an excellent job – have undergone reorganization and did not renew their contract with TVHD. Non-OSHPD work on the new hospital -- areas like administration and utilities -- has continued during the unexpected slowdown.