Resolutiion backs city on Rails to Trails project

 The Taft District Chamber of Commerce has endorsed a city approved affordable housing Project that will be located on the city’s Rails to Trails redevelopment site.

The Taft City Council recently approved the 40-unit development on the corner of 4th Street and Supply Row in the city’s downtown redevelopment zone. The Chamber board of directors cited the shortage of new, affordable housing as reason for its support, and the fact that fewer than 12 new living units has been built in the city since 2005.

The development would be located on the 46 acre Rails to Trails property. The City also plans to break ground on a 50-room hotel and a sit down dining restaurant on the site next summer.

“As an employer on the Westside, I can tell you that it’s difficult for employees to find good housing to live in,” said John Neumann, owner of Accelerated Environmental Services and a chamber board member.

The Chamber resolution stated in part “... in most cases the only available new rental housing suitable for working families is in Bakersfield forcing them to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars annually in transportation costs to get to work on the Westside.”

The resolution also pointed out that several housing projects had been planned over the past several years but abandoned because of “…environmental constraints, lack of bank financing and other complex issues (and that) Taft has tried and has been unable to attract adequate numbers of housing units to meet current and future needs.”

“Taft needs as many rooftops as it can possibly get,” said Bob Hampton, owner of Westside Waste Management and a chamber board member. “Without new housing, Taft and its economy cannot grow."

Chamber Director Dr. Kathy Orrin said the new housing gives employees more housing choices.

“This housing opportunity gives employers another way to attract new employees and gives new hires a viable alternative for a safe, clean and attractive place to live,” said Dr. Orrin.

Here is the full text of the resolution:

Taft Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau
Resolution
In Support of the City Approved 40 Unit Affordable Housing Development

Whereas, the Taft City Council and the City of Taft recognizes the need for housing in the City of Taft,
Whereas, the availability of local housing is of vital importance, and the development of decent and affordable housing for families that work and desire to live in Taft must be a priority, and
Whereas, in most cases the only available new rental housing stock suitable for working families is in Bakersfield forcing workers to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars annually in transportation costs to get to work on the Westside, and
Whereas, adequate housing for all segments of the community is critical to a stable workforce, and
Whereas local governments have a responsibility to use powers vested in them to facilitate the improvement and development of housing to make adequate provision for the housing needs of the community, and
Whereas, state law requires local communities to provide affordable housing in order to meet state-mandated affordable housing goals, and
Whereas, state law and policy, specifically AB32, SB375, and related programs and policies, call for increased densities and housing located in closer proximity to jobs to reduce VMT and provide other environmental benefits, and
Whereas, the Taft Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau supports the development of a variety of housing types, including higher density, multi-family and single-family homes, and
Whereas, due to many factors – environmental constraints, lack of bank financing and other complex issues - Taft has tried and has been unable to attract or provide adequate numbers of housing units to meet current and future needs, and
Whereas, the city council approved affordable housing project is consistent with the city’s general plan and the Rails-to-Trails development plan, and
Whereas, the Taft City Council and The Taft Planning Commission with input from the public and city staff, has unanimously approved a 40 unit affordable housing development on the Rails to Trails, and
Whereas, the development been thoroughly reviewed by the city’s planning commission and the Taft city council, and that the project has been unanimously approved by the council and the planning commission,
Therefore, be it resolved that the Taft Chamber of Commerce supports the decision of the Taft City Council to approve the 40 unit housing development and encourages the City to pursuing other market housing opportunities to meet the current and future demand for housing of all types in order to ensure a strong, locally employed and locally housed work force that creates a healthy and balanced economy and community.
Unanimously approved by the Taft Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors – August 17, 2011