Kern County bans all commercial marijuana production

As reported on

Kern County banned commercial cannabis Tuesday.

Four of the five county supervisors said they did not want to be party to the permitting and regulation of an industry that wields such a destructive impact on the communities they represent.

“The vast majority of the pot shops in the greater Bakersfield area are in Oildale,” said Supervisor Mike Maggard.

He said his people, the residents and businesses in the poorest areas of his district, are being disproportionately impacted by marijuana dispensaries.

Maggard said suggesting that he allow an industry that has victimized his constituents for years to operate legally, simply for the money it might represent to county coffers, is offensive to him.

“I can’t turn my back on the neighborhoods I represent,” he said.

Supervisor Mick Gleason also supported the ban, but cautioned people not to expect that it will remove marijuana from Kern County. …

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On California Farms’ Water Issues, Congress Needs Food for Thought

Row crops growing in California.

When it comes to water and agriculture, California is upside-down.

That’s what historian Carey McWilliams wrote in his 1949 book, “California: The Great Exception.” Most of the water is in the northern part, and most of the best land for farming is further south.

But this “contrariness of nature” worked to humanity’s advantage in two ways, McWilliams wrote, because it stimulated inventiveness and technological achievement, and because “the long dry season is an enormous agricultural asset.”

That assumes you agree that abundant food production is a good thing, a view that in recent years has become unfashionable in places like Venezuela, Zimbabwe and San Francisco.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, described a stunning meeting he had with representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental activists in the summer of 2002 about the future of the San Joaquin Valley. “Their goal was to remove 1.3 million acres of farmland from production,” he said. “From Merced all the way down to Bakersfield, and on the entire west side of the Valley as well as part of the east side, productive agriculture would end, and the land would return to some ideal state of nature.”

That plan was moved forward when the Central Valley Project Improvement Act was passed by Congress in 1992. Under the law, 260 billion gallons of water on the Valley’s west side had to be diverted away from human uses and out to the environment.

Then a series of lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act secured protected status for smelt in 2008 and salmon in 2009, and that was enough to force the virtual shutdown of two major pumping stations that moved water to the Central Valley. Another lawsuit resulted in the San Joaquin River Settlement, later enacted by Congress at a cost of more than $1 billion to taxpayers, which diverted more water away from the Central Valley in an attempt to create salmon runs.

Farmers struggled to get by with groundwater, but in 2014, new California regulations limited that, too.

In 1949, McWilliams observed that if the Central Valley were a state, it would rank fifth in the nation for agricultural production. Today it has poverty and unemployment rates that would be right at home in the Great Depression.

And that’s why members of Congress from the region have repeatedly introduced legislation to adjust federal law in ways that would allow water to be restored to the Central Valley. The legislation passed the House several times only to die in the Senate.

Last year, Rep. David Valadao, R-Bakersfield, introduced it again, calling it the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015. President Obama immediately threatened a veto, but in May, Valadao attached the bill as an amendment to an energy bill already passed by the Senate, and the House passed it. …

Click here to read the full story from the Daily News.

Californians Pay To Have Their Lawns Spray Painted Green

Front yard waterGov. Jerry Brown is cracking down on how much water Californian’s use in their daily lives, and that means parched lawns are turning brown as the state heads into its fourth year of drought.

In steps some savvy entrepreneurs who have a solution to water restrictions: spray paint your lawn green, don’t waste water on it. Lawn painting companies, like Xtreme Green Grass, are seeing business boom.

“I probably have about seven appointments scheduled in just the next week or so.” David Bartlett, the company’s owner, told KXTV-Sacramento.

Bartlett’s company sprays a non-toxic green dye across the brown areas of your yard, making look as if it’s been freshly watered. The service takes about an hour and costs 25 cents per square foot.

That may seem like a lot, but Bartlett says it’s way cheaper than making your lawn “drought-friendly” by bringing in new plant material. Doing that can cost homeowners several thousand dollars.

Most of California is going through an “exceptional” drought period, according to monitors, and some 37 million residents are being impacted by less-than-normal rainfall and snowpack. The Golden State saw record low snowpack this year.

In response, Gov. Brown mandated that statewide water use shrink by 25 percent, pushing for fines up to $10,000 for those who use too much water. Republicans have blamed federal and state policymakers for flushing lots of water out to sea every year because of the delta smelt — a small, endangered fish.

“For the governor to come out and say, ‘Look, we all have to now take shorter showers and kill our front lawns and stop washing our cars,’ that is not the answer,” said Travis Allen, Republican State Assembly member. “Forty percent of our water is going into the Pacific Ocean. The answer is, let’s stop sending that water into the Pacific, and let’s send it into our cities, into our homes.”

“Sacramento and Washington have chosen to put the well-being of fish above the well-being of people by refusing to capture millions of acre-feet of water during wet years for use during dry years,” U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a Republican who represents the Bakersfield area. “These policies imposed on us now, and during wet seasons of the past, are leaving our families, businesses, communities and state high and dry.”

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

Bakersfield Drops High-Speed Rail Lawsuit

As 2015 approaches, California’s high-speed rail project keeps barreling down the track. On Dec. 19, the city of Bakersfield dropped its lawsuit against construction. The city’s settlement with the California High-Speed Rail Authority stipulated, among other things:

“The city has met with the HSRA to identify a locally-generated potential alignment alternative for an area within the Section extending from approximately north of Seventh Standard Road in Kern County to Oswell Street in the City of Bakersfield….”

The above map (bigger version here) shows the change in the route in Bakersfield, from the purple line to the green line.

The settlement also mentioned the project still is being challenged by “six other petitioners.” They are:

  • Kern County;
  • Kings County, Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability and the Kings County Farm Bureau;
  • City of Shafter;
  • Coffee Brimhall, a development company;
  • The Bakersfield First Free Will Baptist Church;
  • Dignity Health.

In exchange for dropping the case, the CHSRA reopened the study of a new alignment that will be less damaging to the city of Bakersfield and will promote more public engagement.  In essence, the settlement reopens a previously project-level environmental impact report and study the CHSRA board certified on May 7.

Under the settlement, the CHSRA has the right to continue with the original train route. But Bakersfield retains the right to sue again if the same damaging route ultimately is selected.


According to settlement highlights released by the city of Bakersfield (full document is below), the CHSRA agreed:

  • To develop a conceptual alignment that generally parallels the Union Pacific Railroad through downtown Bakersfield with a station generally located in the area of F Street and Golden State Avenue;
  • Work with Bakersfield to co-sponsor public workshops;
  • Work with with local property owners impacted by the alignment to address those impacts;
  • When the conceptual alignment is refined, in good faith evaluate the new alignment along with the route that was previously certified by the CHSRA;
  • Agree not to pursue additional design work or expend funds or approve or construct the previously selected route while the study is being completed;
  • When the study is complete and the CHSRA is ready to decide on the alignment and station location, it will meet in Bakersfield;
  • Agree not to exclusively rely on its prior certification of the hybrid alignment to approve the ultimate alignment and station location in the city.

Surface Transportation Board 

As reported last week, “the U.S. Surface Transportation Board ruled in favor of the CHSRA in a dispute over whether the STB’s authority to green-light the project takes precedence over the California Environmental Quality Act.” The CHSRA wanted, and got, construction stoppage off the table as a CEQA remedy – at least for now, pending actions in the other lawsuits.

The San Jose Mercury News reported the CHSRA-Bakersfield legal negotiations pre-dated the STB ruling. However, Recital H in the new agreement stipulated:

“HSRA asserts that the STB Order deprives the Sacramento Superior Court of jurisdiction over the CEQA and related causes of action in the Bakersfield Lawsuit, as well as in the related Lawsuits. The City disagrees with HSRA’s assertion concerning the effect of the STB Order.” 

And “Section 4.5 Waivers” of the agreement reads:

“The City agrees it will not challenge, contest or appeal the STB Order in any way, including but not limited to via the STB itself or via any other court, board or tribunal.”

So the STB ruling certainly was part of the legal atmosphere surrounding the last days of negotiations.

Bakersfield also agreed it will not file a National Environmental Quality Act lawsuit or challenge funding prior to the study of the alternate alignment.

In sum, Bakersfield gains a couple of things from the agreement. It gets a breather from the controversy that will follow the STB decision. It gains a fresh look at a less damaging rail alignment. And in engages its local community, while retaining the right to file another lawsuit if it doesn’t like the final outcome.

The CHSRA gets one of seven lawsuits off the train table.

Bakersfield settlement highlights


This articles was originally published at