November 9, 2019
On Saturday, Nov. 2, the community group known as Smart Growth Tehachapi Valleys held their annual meeting in the conference room of the Benz Building located on Goodrick Dr. near Tehachapi Airport. The public was invited to attend to learn more about what is going on in the community. About 50 members from the community attended. Presiding over the meeting was President Terry Warsaw.
The Smart Growth organization nationwide deals with planned economic and community development that attempts to curb urban sprawl and worsening environmental conditions. In Tehachapi they focus on local issues and development. It had been a paid membership organization until the Cummings Valley Protective Association dissolved, donating the remainder of their funds to Smart Growth allowing the group to offer free membership.
The speakers at this year's annual meeting were District 2 Supervisor Zack Scrivner, Tehachapi Development Services Director Jay Schlosser and Water District Manager Tom Neisler of the Tehachapi Cummings Community Water District.
Scrivner outlined state legislation that affects Tehachapi residents. He said the passage of Proposition 47 and AB 109 has actually resulted in an increase in crime as only felons are now receiving jail time and drug convictions are now misdemeanors. He said that in 2019 Kern County finally erased the $47 million deficit from four years ago according to plan. This year, in order to attract the best officers, the Kern County Sheriff's Department has raised salaries to equal the highest in the state. The county has put $3 million into parks this year including new bathrooms and showers for Tehachapi Mountain Park. He also touched on the recent power shutoffs stating that the so-called notifications were unacceptable and litigation was a possibility. He reminded everyone that state law allows the power companies to do this.
In answer to a question about new wind turbines, Scrivner said some of the old turbines are being replaced but reassured everyone that where the turbines are is the only place they will be. He also touched on the Renew-Biz grants for unincorporated areas of the county including the $10,000 façade grants for businesses to upgrade their exteriors. He said that $380,000 went to East Kern including Mojave and Boron and $46,000 to Old Town Tehachapi.
Jay Schlosser reported that the City of Tehachapi has been operating in the black for five years and is in a very healthy position. Currently Tehachapi growth is about two years behind the rest of the nation and California with a current growth rate of about 2 percent and this is in alignment with the City's specific plan. The City continues to invest in its downtown currently planning pedestrian crossings at Green St. and Hayes St. and sidewalks along the south side of H St.
New residential developments have been approved but all are still in the paper planning stage. He reminded everyone that not all approved projects actually get built. Regarding traffic in the new subdivision, he said the current model is to return to an earlier time with smaller roads to maintain the small mountain town feel. He added that from 64-68 percent of Tehachapi commute out. In Tehachapi,"we are in the quality of life business," he said.
Tom Neisler described the three water basins located in Tehachapi. He said Brite and Tehachapi basins are full but the Cummings basin native ground water is declining. Currently water is imported down the California Aqueduct from Oroville Dam in Northern California. He said adjudication is again necessary as the last time was in 1976. The water district also needs to know how much is actually being taken out of the ground. He predicted that soon, to ensure future production, private wells will be metered allowing users 1,200 gallons a day without charge – they will be billed for anything above that amount.