A sense of optimism about the future is always part of the annual State of the City address in Bakersfield, but Thursday’s event was even more upbeat than in years past, primarily because of the city’s improving financial situation.
Hundreds packed the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Bakersfield.
KGET’s Vice President and General Manager Derek Jeffrey, incoming Chairman of the Board of the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, was on hand as emcee.
Outgoing City Manager Alan Tandy, listed many improvements within the city during his tenure, the massive Thomas Roads Improvement Program among them.
Tandy thanked the voters of Bakersfield for passing Measure N — the tax increase initiative that is bringing millions in new revenue to the city annually.
Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh, while highlighting many of the positives, also devoted a good part of her speech to the challenges to combatting homelessness. She called it a paramount issue facing the city.
Combatting homelessness, combatting this challenge, requires the bold action that we are taking together. It’s taking all of us. It’s a tragic reality and we know that complex underlying drivers create this. The impact of homelessness on our businesses and our families is a troubling reality. But homelessness is more than just a problem, it’s about people. 92% of unsheltered and the sheltered desire services. 614 engaged in services and are on the prioritized list of housing. they are waiting for housing. and 93 are document ready. They have everything they need, except for a place to go because we don’t have sufficient housing … The barriers to treatment, housing affordability, criminal justice reform…those things have exacerbated homelessness in California, but first we as a community have to get those shelters openBakersfield Mayor Karen Goh
The State of the City luncheon was sponsored by the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce and Dignity Health.