How shall we grow? Delano latest community grappling with choices

Jan 8, 2009

Jenny Shearer, Bakersfield Californian
Delano’s planners predict its population could swell by 30,000 people in the next 20 years.

So the city asked Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to help plan for those new people, plus the 50,000 or so already living
there.

Students in the school’s City and Regional Planning Department talked to Delano residents about what they want, and those findings will be shared Monday at a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission. Once they get feedback, 30 college students will come up with a strategic plan for the city.

It’s important as cities throughout the county grapple with growth issues.
A strategic plan is about action and “innovative approaches that the community itself can accomplish,” said Kelly Main, assistant professor.

Priorities for Delano residents include sidewalks and bike paths, more shopping, including a farmers market, and activities for kids.

“The community’s basically said they would like a more traditional, walkable community with places for their kids to play,” Main said.

Delano is “Mayberry, U.S.A.,” said native Jaime Mendoza. “It’s nice to go into the local restaurant, the Rite-Aid, and say hello to somebody you know.”

But the 40-year-old father of two daughters would like more shopping and entertainment, which would benefit residents and city coffers.

A Kern County Superior County judge will consider a writ of mandate Feb. 6 about the Delano Marketplace shopping center. A lawsuit was filed against the center in 2007 by a San Francisco attorney, challenging environmental reports used for the project, which includes a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Delano doesn’t want to be an also-ran type of community, said Keith Woodcock, the city’s community development director.

The city wants “to be a forefront in the towns in the valley, to build on its international reputation,” he said.

Cal Poly students are also searching for oral histories. Residents who want to share may call Jennifer Lopez, outreach facilitator at Get Moving Kern, 636-4484.
Those stories would be collected when the “plan van” visits Delano Jan. 31. Main said the public is often too busy to attend workshops, so the Cal Poly students will take their planning ideas to the people, most likely at a store parking lot.

Other planning efforts:
• The San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Summit on Jan. 26 in Fresno offers the public a chance to vote on a regional scenario. Learn more at www.valleyblueprint.org.
In 40 years, there could be 7 million people in the Central Valley.

• Taft has a planning workshop scheduled for Feb. 9. How shall we grow?