Community members on San Jose Ave in Delano came together to ask the county for help getting their road paved and electricity installed.
The road is dirt so during the summer the dust is everywhere causing concern for those with asthma and the fear of Valley Fever. During the winter months, the road turns to mud and cars end up stuck just trying to get to school.
Ivan Sandoval, a community organizer from Center on Race Poverty & the Environment (CRPE) spoke with the community at the budget hearing to stress the concern for the community and suggest that the county apply for and use CMAQ money.
The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program is funding used to help fund projects to meet the Clean Air Act. The suggestion to use CMAQ money is because the county used the federal grant before to help with the pavement of Lytle Ave.
Lytle Ave. is a street directly behind San Jose Ave.. According to one community member, Marsela Macias-Sanchez, said that is why her family decided to build their home on San Jose Ave. Her father built his house on Lytle Ave. and with help from the county was able to get the street paved.
“It’s getting very difficult to take the kids to their school in the winter season when it rains. It gets muddy and the cars get stuck,” said Macias-Sanchez. “There’s been times we’ve stayed stuck out there for an hour or two.”
Now in the summer months, she is afraid of Valley Fever because her husband is a carrier and she is concerned the dust will cause her two young children to get it as well.
Along with no pavement the families are asking for help to get electricity for their homes as many of them use solar panels. According to Sandoval, Southern California Edison (SCE) has agreed to electrify the neighborhood if provided the correct documents saying the county has the right to work there.
According to Ryan Alsop, Kern County Chief Administrative Officer, the county does have the easements providing them the right away to work on that street.
“The issue for certain property owners along San Jose who may be building a home and would like to connect to SCE was resolved when the County assumed right of way for both Lytle and San Jose Avenue a while back,” said Alsop. “That said, we are talking to SCE and some of the residents out there on how this may be done quickly.”
David Couch district 4 board of supervisor said that they are working on getting the street paved and recalled when this process happened with Lytle. According to Couch, the county applied for the CMAQ funding for the pavement and it took a couple of years before being able to get it.
“I am pretty sure that our public works department is already working on this and it’s just going to take time,” said Couch.
Alsop confirmed this, “We are going to pave the entire 1-mile length of San Jose Avenue, between County Line Road and Cecil Avenue. I anticipate this work getting done in the next 12 to 18 months, again waiting on CMAQ funding.”
While it is not the county that provides electricity community members are asking that a sense of urgency be taken when helping this street. To them it is not just a need but it is an emergency.
“Sometimes in the months where we don’t get enough sunlight we arrive home from work to find the refrigerator has stopped running, all of the food has gone bad,” said community member, Leonardo Ledezma. “Right now we are working out in the fields and it’s incredibly hot and once we get home we find our homes are even hotter than it is outside.”