Residents planning to stay for a while might want to pay attention to a plan the City of Bakersfield is trying to put in place.
There’s a fundamental question the city seeks to answer with Bakersfield 2045 RISE, the name given to the process behind its master plan: What is the city’s vision for the next 25 years or so?
“We have doubled in size over the last quarter century. We could double in size over the next quarter century,” said Chris Boyle, who is leading the city’s efforts to create a master plan as director of development services. “We could be a city of 7 to 800,000 people, and maybe a metropolitan area of a million people.”
Creating RISE, which stands for Resilience Innovation Sustainability and Excellence, takes years of awareness and research, and the city is still in its infancy, he added. But the possibilities are endless. The city’s plans for the future are broken down into eight elements: traffic (or transport); conservation; environmental justice; lodging; land use; open space; noise; and security.
“We’re a major metropolis,” Boyle continued, noting that people may not always think of it in those terms, but Bakersfield is actually one of the top 50 cities by population. (With 407,615 people as of July 1, it’s ranked No. 48 nationally, according to U.S. Census data.) And then he mentioned some of the ideas that could come from such an effort, adding amenities like Mechanics Bank Arena and Convention Center so it doesn’t happen by accident.
“How about a retractable roof stadium on the waterfront that brings a great football team and a great baseball team to the community? Boyle said, listing potential opportunities for the future. “What about our investment in education? Could we see a UC Kern being built along the Kern River at the mouth of the canyon? We’ll be that type of metropolis where we could entertain that kind of stuff.
With their new vision workshops, planners are working on a three-year timeline to develop a plan that will shape the future of Bakersfield for the next two decades. The schedule is featured on a website – Bakersfield2045.com – created by the city to involve as many residents as possible in the process.
Noting projects such as the Kaiser Permanente Sports Village, the Westside Parkway and the Park at River Walk as some of the biggest benefits the city has seen since a plan was last approved in 2002, the gatekeeper Bakersfield town spokesman Joe Conroy said the town needs to hear from residents about what they would like to see this round.
“We’re in the middle of that,” Conroy said. “Currently, the plan should be in place by 2025 or the end of 2024. This is a very important piece of guidance for the city in terms of planning, especially for development services.”
Noting that the process was at “the end of the first part,” Conroy said residents had plenty of time to review the website and provide feedback.
Michael Turnipseed, executive director of the Kern County Ratepayers Association, described it as insight into how a city wants to grow and how its residents want to lead that growth.
Longtime resident Turnipseed also noted that the last time the city really looked at how it wanted to grow and expand, whereas now the effort would likely be more focused on “filling in” and creating plans and of opportunities for indoor areas. its sprawl which remains underdeveloped.
“And I think one of the big things, with everything that’s going on, is that there’s probably going to be more emphasis on filling vacant properties in the heart of the city,” he said. said, noting that many government agencies are considering penalizing sprawl and encouraging transit-oriented development in planning.
Mark Salvaggio, a former city councilor who was on the dais when the last plan was approved in 2002, described the process as a “huge undertaking” but also noted that the city has well begun soliciting feedback.
“They had seven workshops and the last four of them were vision exercises,” Salvaggio said. “It’s very important to involve the public as much as possible, because that’s their overall plan.”
At the same time that the city reviews its general plan, it is also working on its housing component, which ties into the general plan, a facet of planning that must be reassessed every eight years by state law. It’s an area that Salvaggio said he will be watching closely this time around.
“I think one of the biggest things I’d like to see come out of this master plan update is that housing issues and opportunities are addressed, and the city seems to be heading in that direction later this summer and fall,” he said. .
Boyle said the next “deliverable” he expects to see from the consultants the city works with is his master plan is a vision document, which basically discusses what the city sees itself in the future. He expects this to be ready by the end of 2022.
In the meantime, there will be other surveys, meetings and other opportunities for feedback, Boyle said, noting that the city considers every “point of contact” or contact regarding resident feedback as important — whether they are given anonymously online or in an email to the city.
“Then,” he said, “you will move on to the actual preparation of the individual elements.”