Thursday, June 28, 2012

The dilemma of widening 24th Street through downtown Bakersfield: what is your take? And now is the time to trade that used car in for top dollar

* ... 24th STREET: I attended the public hearing on the proposed widening of 24th Street and got an earful from the red shirted opponents of the project. These folks prefer the "no build" option, arguing that widening 24th will divide the neighborhoods on each side of street and drive down property values. But aren't the neighborhoods already divided, and is doing nothing really an option? Here's an interesting compromise I picked up at the meeting: adopt the alternative to take a row of houses on the north side, but instead of leaving a center turn lane (turning against traffic on 24th is already a suicide mission at best) install a landscaped median with bike lanes in each direction. That way you end up with six lanes of traffic that looks more like Old River Road than Ashe Road.

 * ... STEVE HILL: The Desert Rose Band, featuring Chris Hillman and Herb Pederson, played at the Crystal Palace this week and I left promising myself I'd spend more time at this terrific local musical venue. Hillman was a founding member of the Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, and in the audience was Steve Hill, a little known songwriter who co-wrote with Hillman hits like "I Still Believe in You," "Summer Wind" and"Start all Over Again." I chatted briefly with Hill, an accomplished fiddle and violin player, who told me he now lives in Lebec and is still writing music.

 * ... USED CARS: If you are holding onto a good used car and have been thinking about buying new, now is the time to do it. Quality used cars are scarce, and auto dealers are offering killer trade in deals to lure new car buyers. Two friends told me they bought new when two separate dealers offered to pay off their existing leases just to get their business. Dan Hay, general manager over at Jim Burke Ford, told me that "good, clean used cars at any price are at a premium right now and will continue so into the foreseeable future. It really doesn’t matter the price range; good used cars bring all the money and we not only buy them but give top dollar as a trade."

 * ... MORE CARS: Meanwhile over at Motor City, general manager John Pitre said trucks are still king in Kern County. "We are buying 2004 to 2011 trucks from private parties and our client base at  very competitive prices because we have buyers waiting. Our internet sales have reached new highs and we are selling cars all over the world... just exported several to Russia, the Middle East and even Mongolia. We have such great offers on new vehicles due to manufacturer incentives that the spread from used to new has never been so close, thus people can move up to a new 2012 GMC or Buick and after their trade in - there is very little difference due. Kern County is leading the recovery in California and we are at the epicenter."

 *... BELTER: I caught up with young Mallory Belter this past weekend when we ran into each other at a wedding in La Jolla. The daughter of Gary and Bettina Belter, the 22-year-old Mallory just graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and is now working as a wardrobe stylist. She's landed her first client and is living in Los Angeles. Good to see these local kids thriving.

 * ... MEA CULPA: I goofed in an earlier blog when I wrote about Mark Parsons, who is working with the Red Cross in the Colorado fires. Ann Danforth is his sister, not his mother.

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