Saturday 18 November 2017

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY BLUEPRINT AND “GETTING OLDER”

Everything we create and build, after it is placed and used, begins to get older from the onset. We cannot match the regenerative powers of Nature.

 

In that my major focus has been involved with architecture and urban design, my observations after living in Bakersfield for quarter of a century is that the projects that brought me here are wearing down and fading fast.

 

Downtown even with the introduction of a few buildings and some trees down the main street is still much the same. The suburbs have spread and have not innovated much in terms of housing on street frontages with similar dressed front facades on the least expensive boxes behind.

 

The streets hold much the same standards, the infrastructure is still on a “grid” and buried underneath an ever-enlarging dirt mining operation. Cars a still much the same four wheeled conveyances carrying multiple un-used chairs around on a daily basis. And it seems that the cost of everything is moving upwards.

 

With the cost of our freeway system now being debated for our future as not serving our needs sufficiently well enough, it is my belief that we are facing a great opportunity to move into a better city design future. We need this crisis to look forward with courage as well as to adopt the same measure of risk that our forefathers accomplished.

 

It is a vain hope that these crises into being forced upon us to create something far better than we are currently being served with by our financiers, builders and politbureau. We are still fiddling about being somewhat supplicants to citizens “wants”. Faced with citizens “needs” for more electricity and “plug-in vehicles”, computers and energy efficient home utilities, we are going to have to face a greater demand for “clean” energy.

 

Dare we look at one example. Energy has consequences on our “clean air” futures. Is there nothing we can do to stop the pollution or improve the air quality? So let’s dodge the problem by being prepared for the consequences.  First let us look at what the United States is doing as a nation for our future Olympians in Beijing.

 

Bloomberg News writes:- “Air pollution is choking Beijing as economic growth of 10 percent a year is driven by a building boom and increasing demand for cars. Construction spending increased 13 percent last year, and new car sales jumped sixfold in the past five years, according to government statistics.

 

Beijing’s air contains the second-highest level of tiny particles that can trigger asthma attacks, according to a ranking of 20 Asian cities in the United Nations Environment Program’s 2006 Year Book. Only New Delhi had worse air quality.

 

The U.S., which won the most medals in each of the past three Olympics, will base athletes in South Korea, 75 minutes away by plane, so they spend as little time as possible in Beijing, says Randy Wilber, senior sports physiologist for the U.S. Olympic Committee.”

 

Now Bakersfield’s construction has boomed these last few years in California amongst statistically the second worst geographical air polluted area in the nation. Vehicle traffic has increased proportionately. So let’s move all our vulnerable and existing asthma citizens to a place with clean air and fly them back on a monthly basis! An impractical and non regenerative solution.

 

Now my ego was hurt sometime ago by being called “ a grumpy old man”. However we need a regional and local solution for our air pollution. What solutions have we seen coming from our SJV Blueprint and Partnership that promises “Clean Air”?  Is there a solution for the short term or do we live here for another long-term period (25 years) – with the motto “Bakersfield – the place to be?”

 

We need a thoughtful and meaningful urban model shift and future plan. Proud to be a “Grumpy Old Man”.

 

Graham Kaye-Eddie

 

Master Urban Designer

 

8/10/07                  638 words

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