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Taft working to improve the city, help retain residents

Taft Downtown Revitalization Project
Posted at 8:34 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 02:31:32-04

TAFT, Calif. (KERO) — The City of Taft is working on various projects to re-vamp and revitalize community hot spots. The goal is to retain residents and specifically to help bring downtown back to its former glory.

In terms of increasing housing options, Mark Staples, planning director with the city of Taft says they want to add more affordable housing areas specifically for lower-income families to stay in the area.

“We hear from the residents and they love this town. We have plenty of festivals that show the love for Taft and the long-term residents and the kids in the area,” he said during Wednesday night's meeting. “Whether that’s 100% development that accommodates affordable income, or a mix of middle income and lower-income folks in one development..”

Looking at commercial improvements the city wants to redesign public spaces to make them family-friendly, add more greenery, enhance storefronts, and clean up alleyways to add more artwork on walls all while preserving the history of these downtown spaces.

“Working with the property owners to see how we can retain some of the historic architecture and feel and design of that area and incorporate that to anything new,” said Staples.

The city is working on the development plan now and so far, it's getting nearly $225,000 in state funding. But officials say they need more.

“It’s tough. Ten years ago, the state took away our redevelopment agencies, which was kind of a seed funding thing that the city was able to work as a private developer, to really push projects forward," explained Staples. "There hasn’t been legislation that has brought back a new version of that, so that’s kind of taken away from cities and counties.”

Staples adds that a big reason for working to make these improvements is to help the city retain residents and attract people from all over looking for a place to bring their business or live.

“The people are here. They love it in Taft. They love this side of the valley and they want to see the downtown come back.”

The city hosted three public workshops to get input from residents on what they wanted to see. For the next steps, officials are going into high school classrooms to talk to students about improvements they want to see in their town.