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By Pat Doody 

Much ado about trees

Tehachapi City Council Update


October 13, 2018

Pat Doody

Bare median along Curry Street by Tompkins Elementary School.

A Tehachapi City Development Services Department grant application to the California Natural Resources Agency's Urban Greening Program became a major issue at the Oct. 1 City Council meeting. Development Services Director Jay Schlosser asked the Council to authorize the filing of an application for the Urban Greening Grant Program and assure that, should the City receive the grant, the project would be completed.

The program was created in 2016 and Schlosser had sent a grant application, but Tehachapi did not make the final cut. This year the program has $26 million to award and Schlosser submitted a preliminary grant application asking for nearly $900,000 to plant 475 trees in four locations in Tehachapi.

The planned locations would be in the bare median along Curry Street by Tompkins Elementary School, along the Antelope Run bike trail, along the Valley Blvd. bikeway and along the new Tehachapi Blvd. bike path. The project would also include plans to capture storm water to provide water for the trees. This year Tehachapi's application is in the top 35, now needing Council approval to move forward. If the City should receive the grant, it would fund the entire project with no money out-of-pocket to the City.

Councilmen Hetge and Wahlstrom asked why they were just hearing about the application now. Schlosser explained that grant applications are submitted often by Development Services, but not brought to the City Council unless the projects are accepted. Wahlstrom said that he thought the City Council should have input into choosing and designing grant projects to which Schlosser replied that actual project design does not happen until the grant is received. Schlosser said he would be happy to bring future possible grant applications to the council, but current policy has been not to submit anything until there was something to submit. When questioned by Councilman Hetge concerning the cost of preparing grant applications, Schlosser said, "It is built into my budget to chase grants."

The council voted two for and two against approval of the grant application, meaning the request failed. Audible moans and outcries from the audience could be heard.

"I'm very disappointed that the City of Tehachapi has just turned down $900,000," said Councilman Phil Smith.

Jay Schlosser added that when grant money is turned down, there is almost no chance of ever being accepted by that entity again.

Residents Soccoro Schmidt and George Sandee, among others, voiced their disappointment.

"I just don't understand it," said Schmidt.

Sandee reminded the Council that last year they had to turn down two grants involving the airport.

Tehachapi resident and City Council candidate Michael Davies finally came to the podium and suggested that perhaps the Council should reconsider their decision and move to retake the vote. Phil Smith made the motion that was seconded by Dennis Wahlstrom and unanimously passed. The Council decided to discuss grant application policy at their next meeting.


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