Bob Gorson is the City Manager of Taft.
Sustainability has many definitions depending upon the author and his intended audience. For the City of Taft, we have defined Sustainability as aligning our built environment and socioeconomic activities with the natural systems that support life.
Sustainability is the term we use to show how Taft will balance the various interests and needs of our existing and future residents and maintain or enhance our quality of life. The City of Taft’s “Vision for the Future” reflects our core community values and identifies the guiding principles to guide our growth.
In adopting our General Plan, the City of Taft is making a clear and definitive statement that good planning is crucial to the City’s success.
Our General Plan Guiding Principles include:
- Conserve agricultural and natural resources
- Create a vibrant, healthy and active downtown
- Incorporate green and sustainable principles through the General Plan
- Encourage growth in existing developed areas with limited new growth in undeveloped areas of the Planning Area
- Promote attractive residential and aesthetically appealing commercial development
- Create a positive business environment for new and existing businesses to locate and expand
- Provide mobility, housing and job options for all residents of Taft
- Diversify the local economy while remaining a leader in energy production and maintaining a strong petroleum-based industry
The attached Opportunity Site Map reflects other potential property that could be developed for hotel, commercial, industrial or residential land uses. We have a lot of opportunity sites for various land uses and the land is relatively inexpensive. We are especially interested in attracting destination entertainment, quality restaurants and other commercial land uses.
The TAFT DEIR and GPU have guiding principles, policy goals and sustainable objectives that we are planning to implement that will transform the City of Taft into a unique, sustainable and safe community that promotes a healthy, livable and pedestrian-friendly lifestyle. For example, the 47-acre Sunset Rails Landmark Mixed-Use project in the heart of our Downtown will have an exciting mix of uses including destination entertainment, hotel, various residential products, commercial, community college facility and multi-use buildings that will total almost 1.2 million square feet.
We are also planning a Redevelopment Plan Amendment that will cover most of our planned growth areas. The expanded Project Area should capture significant new redevelopment property tax increment. Also, we have zoned enough industrial property to allow for at least 6,000 new jobs. For example, we are marketing a 72-acre industrial park and have a 27-acre city-owned industrial park that should receive $3.2 in Grant funding for the public infrastructure improvements. Finally, with the recent Enterprise Zone designation by the State of California, we should be able attract some quality light manufacturing, alternative energy, renewable fuels and other relative high-wage businesses.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the interest from the development community when the City of Taft had our first booth at the ICSC event in Las Vegas recently. We had a lot of interest, especially in the 47-acre Sunset Rails Mixed-Use project, but there was also interest in our Enterprise Zone and residential, hotel, commercial and industrial opportunities at other opportunity sites.
We are in final DDA negotiations with our Master Developer and Phase I planning is already complete and scheduled to start construction within the next several months. Phase I will be composed of a Hotel (probably a 70 to 80 bed Best Western), Workforce Housing Project, quality sit-down restaurant and one other commercial use.
The Draft Environmental Impact Report and the Draft General Plan Update will be considered at a joint public hearing of our Taft City Council and Planning Commission on Tuesday, June 22 beginning at 7:00 pm at The Fort, 915 North 10th Street, Taft. Anyone interested in sustainable development is invited to participate!
The Taft City Council has created a new “Vision” for the City of Taft and has laid the groundwork for an exciting future. Please contact me on my i-phone at 661.623.6077 if you want to discuss. We welcome your consideration and invite your review of these documents at the city website @ www.cityoftaft.org .