Masters Thesis

The Implementation and impact of hillside development in the city of Bakersfield

Residential developments in northeast Bakersfield have resulted in significant cumulative impacts to hillside areas. Recent development trends in northeast Bakersfield have attracted land investors and developers to the many intrinsic qualities hillside areas have to offer. These qualities include scenic hillside views, cooler temperatures, and a close proximity to downtown. Unfortunately, as development has increased in northeast Bakersfield impacts to natural hillside resources have also increased. The requirements set forth in the City of Bakersfield hillside ordinance, as amended in April 2009, may not sufficiently address the impacts of hillside development. Even with the amended hillside ordinance in place, future unresolved development impacts may occur as development pressures continue. The analysis will determine whether the city’s hillside ordinance should be made more stringent with respect to regulatory procedures to better preserve and protect hillsides. The hillside development regulations of other jurisdictions will be reviewed and compared to the City of Bakersfield’s hillside ordinance. This analysis could result in the conclusion that more stringent measures are warranted to further limit development within hillside areas with regard to preservation of scenic views, visual resource impacts, architectural design, and reducing the potential for increased risk of damage caused by wildfire, slope failure, landslides, and other geological related occurrences. A more stringent hillside ordinance could provide a comprehensive approach to enhance preservation and maintenance of hillsides in addition to the techniques utilized in the city’s current hillside ordinance. These techniques include, but are not limited to, grading techniques that blend with the natural terrain, minimizing earthmoving activities, minimizing visual impacts of large cut and fill slopes, preventing the erosion of slopes, and providing for the preservation of unique and significant natural landforms and ridgelines.

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