BIG CHANGES FOR CALIFORNIA CITY
We have seen big changes during the last 6 months in California City since the new City Council was seated. From policy updates, strategic purchases, and staffing, our community is on a path toward more successful outcomes. Our dependency on the Antelope Valley-East Kern (AVEK) Water Agency shall be no more. There had been extremely high fees paid on construction projects (fees can exceed $500,000 paid to AVEK) for decades that has caused limited development in our community.
PREPPING FOR CHANGE
The Inland Port in Mojave is coming soon so we need to be prepared. We’ve been cleaning up bad policy with a more streamline approach to attract development. Extending the fee reduction on new home permits has attracted builders to move forward with new projects as well as California City’s recent adherence to the Permit Streamlining Act. Progress takes time but opportunity is at our doorstep now. We must open our doors to let it in and take a step forward into the future.
The problem with California City is that we’ve been planting bushes for decades to hide our problems when we should have been planting money trees. We haven’t had any strategic planning, no capital improvement plan, very little policy for economic development, and a mindset to seek out consultants for every issue instead of fixing the problem in-house.
It is true that many of the problems start and stop on City Council. However, it is also true when we have problems grown so overwhelmingly big beyond a century of time that these cannot be solved in a moment. It takes breaking larger problems down into smaller and more manageable parts to reach those goals.
Take, for example, AVEK and the extremely high fees that have costed California City tremendously in losses to economic development. I’ve been pushing diligently to remove them for over 2 years and finally got the go ahead through City Council consensus. Now we are in the process of fixing 3 of our broken wells, building a water storage facility, and a risk management plan to become self-sustainable and reliable against any threats to our water infrastructure.
FIXING PROBLEMS IN STEPS
There are almost no vacant units left at Desert Jade senior housing. A lot of the vacant units were fixed by volunteers to make available more units to seniors experiencing housing insecurity. We will build even more senior housing soon to expand our footprint to address the demands for more affordable housing. We also have an in-house housing manager now which will translate to even more cost savings rather than hiring a consultant at ridiculous rates.
The new skatepark, splashpad, and clubhouse are some exciting recreational projects that will be built once we get through the bidding process. There should be some groundbreaking by the end of this year, and I expect that we will see project completion by Summer 2024. We also have a new reed cutter being purchased to clean the cattails that are overgrown around the lake to help bring Central Park back to its former glory. The weeds around City Hall have been cleared and the grounds surrounding City Hall are now being properly maintained. Something that hasn’t been done for a very long time. Grant funding should be on its way soon to help with updating in and around City Hall.
We also should be expecting grant funding for some of our infrastructure impediments. Fixing every problem in California City has become a ½ billion-dollar problem. This is what happens when we go over half a century without a capital improvement plan, a sentiment to trail items instead of creating action to address problems, and a lack of strategic planning. However, we will continue to seek solutions and be better prepared for the future moving forward. We, as a community, will not accept defeat even when the cards are stacked against us. We must continue to dream big and take each small step forward in the right direction.
DEVELOPMENT LEADS TO JOB CREATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
New houses being built brings in more jobs through the labor required to build those houses. It also trickles down and helps support businesses through goods and services being purchased related to the new home start. The more housing units California City has in development, the more our population tends to grow. That in turn drives businesses to offer their goods and services in our area and expand their presence. The more real estate transactions that occur in a community, the more opportunities that become available. We are all connected on a macroscale. Solid economic policy decisions on City Council will lead to more development in California City and further sustainability through economic growth.
CITY HALL STAFFING
We hired a very competent city manager that is effectively staffing departments. We now have a Public Works Director, Planning Director, Human Resource Director, Police Chief and Fire Chief when we started the year off with only a Fire Chief at the director level. Our departments are not only on track to be fully staffed, but we have also experienced many cost savings by stepping away from consultants and instead developing teams in-house. This will translate into multi-million-dollar savings in a few short years.
To grow as a community, we need to bring more jobs to California City instead of contracting out to consultants constantly. After several years of hitting roadblocks and removing impediments, I can finally say that California City is OPEN FOR BUSINESS. We are OPEN FOR THE COMMUNITY. Welcome to California City. Together, we will build the dream of a better, more vibrant, and engaging community where public safety, job creation, economic development, essential infrastructure, senior housing, and recreational activities are not only adequately funded but are also a top priority as well.
Kelly Kulikoff, Mayor