Wednesday, April 19, 2023

What does a soaring homeless population and a spike in crime and in Kern County say about life in Kern County? Plus the superbloom does not disappoint and an impressive class in the Highland High School alumni hall of fame

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... HOMELESS PROBLEMS: They counted the homeless again and once again the number of people living on the street is up, some 22 percent higher than a year ago. According to Kern County's latest count, some 1,948 people are homeless compared to just 1,603 last year. Now it may be true the number is higher because more people were counting, but the numbers paint a grim picture of what is happening on the

streets day in, and day out. So how does this make you feel? Have our efforts of the past five, six years been a total failure? Record numbers of homeless are being ushered into housing and yet, the numbers on the streets still keep rising. It's not a pretty picture and while local efforts to combat homelessness should be applauded, is there anyone who can say this looks anything like a real successful strategy to turn this around?

 * ... NETFLIX CDs: If you are of a certain age you remember the early, pre-streaming days of Netflix  when our movies arrived in bright red envelopes with a DVD tucked inside. Well Netflix says the last DVD will be shipped on Sept. 29 and after that Netflix will no longer send disks. At its peak in 2010, Netflix had some 20 million customers to its DVD service.

* ... WILDFLOWERS: The wildflower superbloom is here, and you don't have to go far to enjoy it. Certainly the Antelope Valley poppy preserve and the Carrizo Plains are spectacular venues but there are many closer areas that are equally impressive. A casual drive up Breckenridge Road is a superbloom treat, as is Windwolves Preserve and of course Tejon Ranch. Here are a few shots of the wildflowers at Tejon this past weekend, taken by James Burrow.

 * ... MORE TEJON: And check out these photos from Tejon by my friend Mark Duffel, some wonderful superbloom shots for the ages.

 * ... DOWNTOWN GRAFFITI: Koral Hancharick, director of the Buena Vista Museum on Chester, discovered what so many downtown businesses have: their business has been tagged by graffiti artists, or worse broken into. It's another day in the life of Ward 2 where we recently learned homelessness has skyrocketed by more than 20 percent, people sleep on the streets and sidewalks without consequence and our alleys and doorways are being used for drug transactions and more.

 * ... CALIFORNIA SOBER: Have you heard the term "California sober?" It refers to residents of the Golden State who choose not to drink alcohol or do heavy drugs, but they do occasionally partake in cannabis and cannabis-related products. There are no statistics on how many people are "California sober" here, but nationally there has been a gradual move toward non drinking and lighter drinking, and some experts say non-drinkers in states where marijuana is legal are more likely to consume cannabis. In fact, states where marijuana is legal have more people kicking booze than other states. In 2018, 5.1% of adults engaged in heavy drinking in the past year, 15.5% engaged in moderate drinking, 45.7% engaged in light drinking, and 33.7% did not consume alcohol at all.

 * ... HIGHLAND HIGH SCHOOL: Did you see who was inducted into the Highland High School Alumni Hall of Fame? Among those honored were Kern County chief administrative officer Ryan Alsop, San Diego Superior Court Judge Eugenia Eyherabide, Supervisor Leticia Perez, Dr. Willa Crosby Thorson, Joe Barton, Liz Stinson Haley, Pete Gonzalez and the 1977 Varsity Wrestling Team.

 * ... MEMORIES: A couple of historical shots here for your enjoyment, both courtesy of the Kern County History Fans page on Facebook.