December 9: After three months of notices and hearings and missed deadlines, Kern County Code Compliance broke ground on a series of demolitions, starting with these hazardous structures on L Street and M Street, which have been abandoned for over 15 years! “I can’t believe it’s finally coming down” exclaimed a neighbor, happy to see this building go. “Maybe now we can start to clean up this block.” These abandoned structures tend to be one of the biggest sources of drugs and crime in Mojave, and can be extremely dangerous for children and neighbors. This house on the 15800 block of L Street (pictured above) is the first of four structures to be demolished in the next several weeks, including another house on the 15700 block of L Street and the fallen-down garage removed from the 15900 block of M Street (pictured below). The Mojave Foundation works closely with Kern County Code Compliance officials to prioritize buildings for cleaning and demolition, and we applaud the recent flurry of activity.
We encourage property owners to sell their vacant hazardous homes before Code Compliance gets involved. It costs on average $15,000 for the county to demolish a house in Mojave – mostly due to “prevailing wage” mandates and administrative time. If the property owner decides to walk away from the property, the fines and taxes get assigned to the property in the form a lien, which then discourages future development. The Mojave Foundation would much prefer to work with property owners to resolve safety issues quicker and cheaper than what the county can do it for, and to transition the property to responsible owners. Using local volunteers and contractors property owners can expect to pay about $5,000 on average to demolish a structure, and they can usually make a lot more than that when they sell the property to a local buyer. This demolition and transition is a critical part of our strategy to restore the health and vibrance of this community.
December 4: Mojave has another Good Samaritan, this time helping children cross highway 58 safely before and after school. Paul Smith, of Mojave Gardens, was so deeply affected by the death last week of Raven Knight that he volunteered to stand post at the crosswalk all day by himself to help pedestrians cross the four-lane highway safely. Mr. Smith got a safety vest and a hand-held stop sign from the school and vows to stay at his post until a street light or safety device is installed to protect the children on their way to school every day. Mr. Smith, a retired truck mechanic, has lived in Mojave only a few months, but long enough to observe Ms. Knight to be a kind and spirited young lady. “We just have to care more about people” exclaims Mr. Smith just before he helps another teenager cross the highway, “we have to take care of them better.”
This is the third “Good Samaritan” we have discovered in Mojave, and we are inspired by the selfless service of these individuals. The Mojave Foundation salutes Mr. Smith and others like him, who do not seek praise, nor compensation – they only implore that the rest of us do more to “take better care of each other”. We encourage all residents to say thank you to Mr. Smith, or better yet, pick up a safety vest and help him stand guard and protect our children.
December 4: After six months of recruitment and applications and training… Mojave’s own Citizen Service Unit (CSU) takes to the streets in an effort to bring more eyes and ears to the community. Mojave’s CSU team of volunteer police consists of eight individuals, who will conduct non-hazardous law enforcement activities, such as transporting vehicles between Mojave and Bakersfield, vacation checks, handling documents and evidence, and establishing a greater presence in targeted areas. The arrival of CSU could not come at a better time, as Mojave has suffered from 15 break-ins or attempted break-ins in the last 30 days, and some CSU volunteers will be helping the Sheriff’s Deputies provide over-watch in some of the most affected areas at night. CSU members are required to serve eight hours per month, and attend monthly meetings, but this class of volunteers is eager to hit the streets until this recent crime wave subsides. For more information on volunteering with CSU contact Todd@MojaveFoundation.org, or click here to fill out an application.
December 3: The Mojave Foundation is proud to announce that we have received our 501(c)3 status from the IRS. This means that the MF can now receive donations, which the donors can deduct from their taxes! This is critical to our mission to clean up Mojave, and allows us to put real resources behind our big ideas. We have accomplished a lot in 2013 with no money and a highly-motivated group of volunteers – starting a volunteer police squad (CSU), demolishing and cleaning up lots, and launching a series of entrepreneurship and educational workshops. But community-scale infrastructure projects will require substantial investments from both public and private donors. Some of our funding priorities in 2014 are (1) to demolish vacant hazardous structures that blight our downtown area, (2) to increase the public lighting for safety and security, (3) to build a railroad park on the west side of Sierra Highway, as well as community gardens. We believe that this community has the means and the motivation to change this town for the better, and we humbly encourage all residents to get involved – either by volunteering at the school, or the senior center, or with the Mojave Foundation! We intend to match this incredible outpouring of community support with tangible results in a relatively short period of time. We will execute all projects quickly and efficiently, with 100% transparency. Individuals can make general donations to support the Foundation’s operations, or can donate to a specific project; we will work with you to find a project that fits your priorities for the community. To make a tax-deductible donation to the Mojave Foundation, click here!