The City of Bakersfield is moving forward with a plan to alleviate traffic in one of its most well-established neighborhoods.
Westchester homeowners on the so-called “Tree Streets” have been petitioning for years to turn their streets into cul-de-sacs to block the heavy traffic on 24th Street.
While residents are overwhelmingly in favor of the renovations, some are still worried about how the city plans to handle construction.
One Westchester resident, Peter Tovar, said he came home the other day and found the front yard of his Westchester home had been staked by city road crews. “There’s all these stakes in my yard and across the street. I had no idea what they were planning to do,” said Tovar.
The city says it has received petitions from every homeowner on the south side of 24th Street between A Street and Elm Street to turn the so-called “Tree Streets” into cul-de-sacs.
Constructions crews will have to remove a portion of south side residents’ front yards to turn the “Tree Streets” into dead ends.
“The city is going to go ahead and build the curb and gutter and the pavement, and then we’ll have to remove whatever we need to do that,” said Brad Underwood, Assistant Public Works Director.
One big concern? Trees, plants, and walls that are demolished won’t be replaced, and it will be the homeowners' responsibility to rebuild his or her yards.
“What’s going to happen to my property value?” asked Tovar. “It’s already going down.”
Another concern? There is an affiliated construction project, known as the 24th Street Widening Project, that has yet to be fully approved. That project involves either removing homes on the south side of 24th Street or homes on the north side of the street in order to widen it.
The city is working under the premise that the 24th Street Widening Project will end up demolishing homes on the north side of 24th Street.
But, until an environmental report is complete, the city doesn’t know for sure if 24th Street will be expanded to the north or south, which could have an impact on the “Tree Streets” cul-de-sac project.
That environmental report is due in the spring of 2013.
The 24th Street Widening Project will be the subject of a planning commission meeting on November 1st. That meeting is open to the public. Concerned citizens will have a chance to voice their questions and concerns.