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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At least the article mentiones the rising trend of "Smart Growth" and new urbanism.


Calif. city to expand boundaries
Updated 5/19/2006 5:07 AM ET

By Bob Riha, Jr., USA TODAY

Glen and Terrie Stoller have owned their nursery/farm in Bakersfield for over 20 years. A housing track now sits across the street from their nursery.
Framers Jack Guthrie, right, and Alberto Rodriguez put the final touches on a house along Parkerhill Drive in a development by Castle & Cook.
Enlarge Bob Riha, Jr., USA TODAY
Framers Jack Guthrie, right, and Alberto Rodriguez put the final touches on a house along Parkerhill Drive in a development by Castle & Cook.
By John Ritter, USA TODAY
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — This city known for its dusty oil patch, blast-furnace summers and country music stars is planning for the future by turning to the past.

At a time when many areas of the country are trying to contain sprawl, the City Council won approval this year to expand an area chosen for development outside city limits that could nearly double Bakersfield's size in the years ahead.

Critics see the expansion as a green light to builders that will encourage more suburban sprawl, gobble up more prime farmland and aggravate traffic congestion and air pollution.

Many developers and politicians, however, see a way to satisfy a feverish housing demand that has turned a once-conservative backwater — hometown of country icons Merle Haggard and the late Buck Owens — into one of the state's fastest-growing cities.

Mayor Harvey Hall says Bakersfield has little appetite for higher-density developments and other urban design trends. "I certainly respect the interests of the smart-growth people," Hall says. "But as the mayor, I support prosperity. You just can't stop growth."

Bakersfield has swelled by more than 50,000 residents since 2000. Its 4.7% increase last year, to 312,000, was more than any other California city over 200,000. Fueling the influx are home buyers from coastal areas eager to accept long commutes for a chance at a house with a yard they can afford.

Real estate frenzy

"Single-family homeownership, the American dream, is Bakersfield's bread and butter," says James Movius, city planning director. "Bakersfield is definitely proud it can provide housing to the common guy."

At least a quarter of residents in some new subdivisions commute two hours or more on congested Interstate 5 to Los Angeles, Movius says.

Bakersfield's median home price has tripled in four years but stood at just $289,000 in March, compared with $565,600 in Los Angeles and $719,220 in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the California Association of Realtors.

Robert Lang, author of the forthcoming Boom Burbs, says Bakersfield is a vestige of the post-World War II "growth machine" model of unconstrained expansion.

"If L.A. wants to shut down growth, if Las Vegas is getting crowded, if Phoenix is getting expensive, you could come here and get a good house," says Lang, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. "But it's rare to find cities that are flat-out still pro-growth."

The real estate frenzy has cooled slightly but probably not for long. Bakersfield's population could more than double to 730,000 in three decades.

If traditional growth patterns persist — opposition to large-lot, cookie-cutter sprawl has been muted but is on the rise — it will mean further loss of some of the world's most productive farmland. Bakersfield sits at the southern end of the flat, fertile Central Valley, a 400-mile-long food machine that provides much of the nation's fruit and vegetables.

Farmland is being urbanized across the valley, but nowhere as fast as here: 70,000 acres in 1988-2002, more than 7,000 acres in 2002-04, the state conservation department's most recent reporting period.

Last year, the department warned Bakersfield that it was illegally expanding in protected farmland. "They're as sprawl as sprawl can get," says Edward Thompson, American Farmland Trust's California director.

Big money for farmland

Glen and Terrie Stoller, farmers and nursery owners, see development moving rapidly toward their 2,000 acres outside the city. With the housing comes intense pressure to sell their land as new residents complain about pesticide spraying, foul odors and farming's other side effects.

Farmers are getting so much money for their land — from $25,000 an acre three years ago to $130,000 and up today — that land trusts that buy and preserve land for farming can't afford it, Terrie Stoller says.

"I hear farmers say it makes estate planning a lot easier," Glen Stoller says.

The debate heating up here is over how to grow: same old sprawl vs. more compact, mixed-use subdivisions; build on prime farmland vs. less productive acreage; an ever-widening suburban fringe vs. redeveloping in the city core.

Through lawsuits and threats of lawsuits, the Sierra Club has forced some developers here to offer solar electricity, protect wildlife habitat, add parks and build park-and-ride facilities. In 20 settlements, the club has collected $6 million to offset pollution caused by development. Bakersfield and the valley, along with Los Angeles, have the nation's foulest air.

"We keep bugging the city about cumulative impacts of these projects, and they don't consider it," says the Sierra Club's Gordon Nipp.

Developer Castle & Cooke has three projects featuring "new urbanism" principles, such as smaller lots; mixed housing styles and sizes; narrower, tree-lined streets; and walkable neighborhoods.

"It takes us much longer to get projects approved," says Bruce Freeman, the firm's California head. "You have to push and push. This community hasn't been ready culturally for higher density."

In a fall survey by Vision 2020, a local group, residents for the first time rated "quality of life" their top concern, reflecting mounting unease over congestion, an inadequate road system and pollution, says 2020 president Sheryl Barbich. "People say, 'Do we want to be another Fresno?' " she says.
Posted 5/18/2006 11:32 PM ET
Updated 5/19/2006 5:07 AM ET
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-05-18-bakersfield_x.htm?csp=34
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Of course it will grow. Wether or not it is done vertically or horizontally is a matter of debate. I would hate to lose all the scenic stuff(especially those dotted with ugly out of the way developments) our state is known for.
 

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Your absolutely right....California is a Gorgeous State and I also would hate to see everything paved over with concrete...California needs to start going vertical to preserve more land and slow down sprawl.
chicbicyclist said:
Of course it will grow. Wether or not it is done vertically or horizontally is a matter of debate. I would hate to lose all the scenic stuff(especially those dotted with ugly out of the way developments) our state is known for.
 

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man that sucks. You need to start a grassroots organisation of residents to fight this and start protesting to the mayor to do something about the sprawl.
 

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Yall need to kick the Bozo (the Mayor) out of office. I don't know his politics, but anybody (politician) still advocating that prosperity can only be achieved with out of control urban sprawl on prime farmland needs to be unseated.

I know he's far from the only one, but he's got to go. I know Bakersfield has a downtown, work on that skylkine.

Everybody knows Cali is going to continue to grow, but it needs to be smart and dense.
 

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TalkBaja.com
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I lived in Bakersfield for many years, my daughter and grandson still live there with my son-in-law who is a Sheriff Deputy. I know the city well and in my humble opinion Bakersfield needs to work on centralizing growth, urban renewal and shortening the commute folks make to work, school and shopping.

I was there last week and a drive from Rosedale and Allen to downtown that took me 10 minutes several years ago has now been extended to over a half hour with all the traffic and congestion. I almost didn't recognize the city where I had lived for so many years. Centralizing growth will minimize pollution, gasoline consumption, smog and drain on our resources.

I moved down here to Baja, Mexico years ago and we are only paying $2.70 per gallon for gasoline. I was surprised to see gasoline prices at almost $4.50 last week in a county that produces and refines as much oil as Kern County. Hopefully the city and counting planners in the different planning and resource management agencies will wake up soon!

I wonder if the price of gasoline will bring about more smaller cars and less trucks and pickups on Bakersfield's Highway 99 and 58?

 

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NYC Skyscrapers Rule!!!!
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How we could fix this problem

We need to stop expanding and build up, I have an idea of how to do that. Some parts of town, like the eastern portion of downtown, have many parking lots, undeveloped parcels of land, and blocks of small shops. While we don't need 70-80 story buildings, our skyline should consist of buildings of between 25-40 stories. On the undeveloped lots, we could build office and residential skyscrapers, while we could demolish some small blocks of shops and allow the displaced buisnesses to inhabit the bottom floors for retail and the abovefloors to be used for residential or office space. We could also demolish the multi-level parking garages and build underground parking garages while on their lots office or residential skyscrapers could be built. This would promote less automobile use in the downtown area and lower the levels of smog. But before that happens, the local government should really consider the downsides of spreading out and not building up. They should also consider a large park or attraction to make more buisnesses want to be in such an area, while currently the economy is in bad shape, it hopefully will improve to make such an area more likely. I know it's a bit long, but it is interesting idea though.
 

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We need to stop expanding and build up, I have an idea of how to do that. Some parts of town, like the eastern portion of downtown, have many parking lots, undeveloped parcels of land, and blocks of small shops. While we don't need 70-80 story buildings, our skyline should consist of buildings of between 25-40 stories. On the undeveloped lots, we could build office and residential skyscrapers, while we could demolish some small blocks of shops and allow the displaced buisnesses to inhabit the bottom floors for retail and the abovefloors to be used for residential or office space. We could also demolish the multi-level parking garages and build underground parking garages while on their lots office or residential skyscrapers could be built. This would promote less automobile use in the downtown area and lower the levels of smog. But before that happens, the local government should really consider the downsides of spreading out and not building up. They should also consider a large park or attraction to make more buisnesses want to be in such an area, while currently the economy is in bad shape, it hopefully will improve to make such an area more likely. I know it's a bit long, but it is interesting idea though.


i agree with your idea, but its a long shot..Fresno can't even get a 25 story building, and its larger than Bakersfield. Maybe one day investors and developers will see opportunity to built tall towers and profit, but with low wages and bad economy its not attractive, Yet. high rise residential will cost more than a house on a large parcel. Hopefully the central valley starts building up.
 

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The Central Valley agricultural lands are one of the very greatest treasues of California.

Lets preserve our agriculture. Fruits, vegetables, rice & other produce are among the very few home grown things we export from America to other countries, one of the few things we "make" well.

Lets demand Smart Growth for a Sustainable Future. I'd hate to be importing more agricultural produce from other countries, just as we seem to import everything else today. There just isn't going to be the oil to do that.

A bigger Bakersfield or a bigger Fresno, those are two things we don't need!
 

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i agree with your idea, but its a long shot..Fresno can't even get a 25 story building, and its larger than Bakersfield. Maybe one day investors and developers will see opportunity to built tall towers and profit, but with low wages and bad economy its not attractive, Yet. high rise residential will cost more than a house on a large parcel. Hopefully the central valley starts building up.
That's true, Bakersfield isn't really the hottest real estate market out there. Even though the economy is bad, some skyscrapers could still be built. The San Joaquin Community Hospital has built two new buildings in the past couple of years. They could have built one tall building for all the new facilities and hospital beds instead. And they converted the Plaza "Towers" to be used for elderly housing, I know that because my grandpa wanted to move there. So they could build tall buildings for housing and cheap apartments. And we could consider going the way of Chicago and build a high rise jail/prison downtown because of our overcrowded prison system, and Chicago built theirs in the Loop. So while the buisness and housing issue may slow it down, we could build them for civic purposes and make a somewhat decent skyline until the economy recovers and we could build for offices and apartments.
 

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That's true, Bakersfield isn't really the hottest real estate market out there. Even though the economy is bad, some skyscrapers could still be built. The San Joaquin Community Hospital has built two new buildings in the past couple of years. They could have built one tall building for all the new facilities and hospital beds instead. And they converted the Plaza "Towers" to be used for elderly housing, I know that because my grandpa wanted to move there. So they could build tall buildings for housing and cheap apartments. And we could consider going the way of Chicago and build a high rise jail/prison downtown because of our overcrowded prison system, and Chicago built theirs in the Loop. So while the buisness and housing issue may slow it down, we could build them for civic purposes and make a somewhat decent skyline until the economy recovers and we could build for offices and apartments.


You have a good idea there...built some high rise buildings containing local, state, and federal governments, also prisons. (civic purposes) and then when the economy recovers, office and residentail towers can be built next..How tall is Bakersfield tallest?
 

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The Central Valley agricultural lands are one of the very greatest treasues of California.

Lets preserve our agriculture. Fruits, vegetables, rice & other produce are among the very few home grown things we export from America to other countries, one of the few things we "make" well.

Lets demand Smart Growth for a Sustainable Future. I'd hate to be importing more agricultural produce from other countries, just as we seem to import everything else today. There just isn't going to be the oil to do that.

A bigger Bakersfield or a bigger Fresno, those are two things we don't need!
well im not against Bakers. and Fresno getting bigger, im against sprawl, and those cities should focus on high rise and smart growth. ( high density)
 

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You have a good idea there...built some high rise buildings containing local, state, and federal governments, also prisons. (civic purposes) and then when the economy recovers, office and residentail towers can be built next..How tall is Bakersfield tallest?
Our tallest is the Stockdale Tower(office building) at 12 stories, it is also the tallest building in Kern County.
 

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There is no way Bakersfield will be able to to built a 25-40 story building. Shoot, Sacramento, which is a lot bigger than Bakerfield, can't get a skyscraper of 40 stories.
 

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There is no way Bakersfield will be able to to built a 25-40 story building. Shoot, Sacramento, which is a lot bigger than Bakerfield, can't get a skyscraper of 40 stories.
hey u never know...there was a proposal of 31-story twin towers in Bakersfield..but dont know the status of that (probably not a good one)...theres been smaller cities than Sacramento which have built taller than 40 stories..
 

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There is no way Bakersfield will be able to to built a 25-40 story building. Shoot, Sacramento, which is a lot bigger than Bakerfield, can't get a skyscraper of 40 stories.
As I said before, we could still build them for civic purposes until the ecomomy recovers, and they don't HAVE to be 40 stories tall. The skyscrapers could still be on the lower end of the spectrum or even a little shorter, like 20 stories and still have a good impact on sprawl, and there are a couple of buildings in Sacramento that fit that spectrum or come pretty close, like Esquire Plaza with 22 stories and the Sheraton Grand Sacramento with 28 stories. And once the ecomomy recovers, they could build office and residential buildings to mix in with civic skyscrapers then we and similar cities in CA which need to build up would end up with good skylines and people living near most of the amenities and jobs wouldn't use their cars as much or for as long and help the air quality and preserve the farmlands that surround the cities. And I checked Emporis after seeing your comment as it shows the city's land area and tallest buildings and both Fresno and Sacramento could use more tall buildings as well for Sacramento is 4 sq. miles larger than us and Fresno is 7 sq. miles larger then us.
 

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hey u never know...there was a proposal of 31-story twin towers in Bakersfield..but dont know the status of that (probably not a good one)...theres been smaller cities than Sacramento which have built taller than 40 stories..
I looked up on this one too and last article that I could find from The Bakersfield Californian from March 2007 said that the twin towers have been shrunk form 31 to 24 stories because the CSU trustees were afraid "that two 32-story towers would look monolithic". But since the Crisp and Cole real estate scandal, I think the buildings have been put on hold or cancelled because if they had started building them, most pepole in Bakersfield would know because wouldn't the fact that a city breaking ground on its first real skyscrapers make the local news.
 
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