The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Council talks safety


February 7, 2019 | View PDF

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

Mayor Gilbert Alvarado presents a proclamation to members of the Safe Surrender Coalition of Kern County, declaring February Safely Surrender Baby Awareness Month.

The Shafter City Council talked safety at Tuesday night's regular meeting.

Several residents spoke during public comment on the need for a speed bump, stop sign or some other deterrent on Acacia Street in Shafter.

Tammy Rubio, Melissa Dewitt and Cynthia Misner, all residents who live on Acacia, told the council that they witness cars speeding down their street at all times of the day, endangering their children's lives

"It is worst before school and right after school, with a lot of the drivers taking Acacia to avoid the traffic on Mannel Avenue," Rubio said. "They speed past, ignoring the speed limit, putting our kids, and those students on their way to and from school, in danger."

Mayor Gilbert Alvarado had already suggested to City Manager Scott Hurlbert a need for an ad hoc committee on school traffic safety to be formed to research solutions to the problems of residents living near the school.

Each school neighborhood is affected by the amount of traffic and the unsafe nature in which a number of the drivers exhibit when driving the roads near the schools, Hurlbert said. He also lives on Acacia.

It was determined by the council that an ad hoc committee will be formed, with Mayor Alvarado and Mayor Pro-Tem Cesar Lopez as members. They will research the issue and discuss how to find solutions that will make streets safer for our children and residents.

In related safety news, a four-way stop sign is going up next month at the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Los Angeles Avenue in an attempt to curb the speeding problem in that area. Rubio, Mizener and Dewitt said they feel that the four-way signs will not completely stop the speeding problem. A 25-mph sign and a blinking yellow light were put up in early December, but had no effect, Public Works officials said.

Councilmember Manuel Garcia acknowledged that there is more work to be done on the issue.

Research on the interaction was conducted by Michael James and the Public Works Department. "In our study, we found that the area does not fit the criteria needed to install a speed bump. For one, the road needs to be in a residential neighborhood, which the intersection and road are not, and it needs to be a fully formed road, which it is not. We feel that those speeders would only have to go off the side of the road to avoid the speed bump, defeating the purpose of it and possibly raising the risk of injury in doing so."

Garcia vowed to continue discussing the matter and possible solutions, including the possibility of installing cameras in the area, such as those who monitor for speeding and other violations in select Bakersfield intersections. "We want you to know that we will look into the problem and try to fix this problem. We care about your needs and your concerns and will discuss solutions to the issue," Garcia said to the speakers

Jamie Stewart | the Shafter Press

The intersection of Poplar Avenue and Los Angeles Avenue, along with the signage and light installed there. The city says the additions have not reduced speeding there.

Later, Mayor Alvarado proclaimed February Safely Surrender Baby Awareness Month and presented a certificate to representatives of the Safely Surrender Coalition of Kern County. The Safely Surrendered Baby Law was implemented in 2001, with the intent of preventing harm and possible death to newborns. The law allows mothers to surrender their newborn babies to Fire Department staff or a nurse, at a hospital with an emergency room, within 72 hours of the birth with no questions asked and no fear of repercussions.

Mayor Alvarado presented the proclamation to members of the Kern County Department of Human Services, as well as members of the Kern County Fire Department and First 5 of Kern County. "Since 2006, there have been 71 newborns surrendered here in Kern County. In 2018 alone, we had eight babies get a chance at a happy life thanks to this wonderful program," said Alyssa Martinez of KCHS.

In other council actions, a new unmarked police car to replace the vehicle that was totaled during a police chase last year was approved for replacement. The price of the Ford Police Interceptor sedan is over $28,000, with an additional $11,000 to outfit it.

An approval was given last year for a vehicle, but the vehicle was sold by the dealership before the Police Department had a chance to purchase it.


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