Destination California: Explore 90 acres of fun at Jellystone Park in Lodi

If you’re looking to take the family camping, fishing or swimming, you don’t have to go too far from Sacramento. Jellystone Park in Lodi is the only place near Sacramento where you can find over 300 campsites next to a water park, a marina, a golf course and a giant Yogi Bear. Jellystone Park is that perfect summer getaway to make long-lasting family memories.

Patrick Glover started with a friendly welcome and began the tour with a look at one of the park’s 88 cabins. “We are going to check out our Delta Deluxe Plus Cabin over here,” Glover said. “This is glamping at its finest.”  These cabins come with a full kitchen, bathroom, bunk beds, TVs, a master suite and an upper floor for the kiddos. The cozy cabin also has an outdoor hot tub, grill and a fantastic view of a brand-new water park. Up next on the tour is one of the park’s most popular locations, Jellystone Marina.  One of the fantastic things about Jellystone Park is you can take your pontoon boat or your fishing boat out on the Delta and go as far as Sacramento or even San Francisco.

July is one of the park’s busiest times of the year. Between 3,000 to 4,000 people will set up camp over the holiday weekend, and they’ll have plenty of activities ready for them.   “July still falls under our Under the Sea theme, so we have a mermaid coming in,” Glover explained. “We have a bubble parade, and we have a lot of Fourth of July golf cart parades and Fourth of July crafts.”

In other words, it’s pretty hard to get bored at Jellystone Park. There’s no shortage of things to do for the young and the young at heart. “From 8:30 a.m. until 10 p.m., we are just packed full of activities that families look forward to,” Glover said. Melanie Townsend’s favorite activity at Jellystone Park is getting out of the heat and into the lazy river. Jellystone Park has so many great things to do for both kids and adults, making it another great destination in California.

Clovis’ rapid growth isn’t slowing down. Here’s why its mayor says people want to live there

Clovis has been one of the fastest growing cities in the state in recent years, and its mayor said this week he doesn’t expect that to slow down. Mayor Jose Flores said Clovis is a destination for many people trying to raise families. He also quoted Harry Armstrong, who died in 2018, who spent nearly half a century on the Clovis City Council going back to 1970. “Harry Armstrong, our icon, said we’re a clean, safe city and we still are,” he said Wednesday during a Zoom call. “And because of Clovis Unified School District, we’re a destination. Families want to live here.”

Clovis had 3,093 more residents this year than a year ago, according to numbers released in May from the state Department of Finance. That’s the fifth largest increase in that state when comparing raw numbers. Clovis was the eighth fastest-growing in that state this year when looking at population expansion by percentage, state numbers show, and that’s after at least two other years in the top 10 in California.

The city’s population has more than tripled since 1980 to more than 121,000, according to the latest state numbers. Some residents resent the expansion in a town they once could consider quaint. “We have others that don’t want us to grow anymore, but people want to live here,” Flores said. “That’s economic growth. What they say for business, if you have the rooftops, then businesses can thrive.” Also driving growth in Clovis, Flores said, is the growing medical complex near Temperance Avenue and Highway 168, which is close to Clovis Community Center, California Health Sciences University and other medical services.

Clovis has sometimes been accused of sprawling. The Clovis City Council recently unanimously in April approved an environmental review of plans to potentially push the city’s sphere of influence further north through a study of 1,050 acres. The council members agreed the city needed to look at the area east of Sunnyside and north of Shepherd avenues. The potential change to the sphere of influence includes the roughly 825 acres of new housing the council approved in October.

New construction near Grapevine highlights surge in local speculative development

Speculative development is picking up across Kern County’s industrial real estate industry, evident most recently in a large warehouse now under construction along Interstate 5 at the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center. As the latest joint venture between Lebec-based Tejon Ranch Co. and Southern California development titan Majestic Realty Co., the 629,274-square-foot distribution center-style project spreads across nearly 39 acres near the foot of The Grapevine. With 136 dock-high doors, it is expected to be ready for one or more tenants to move in within about a year.

The project is the latest in a growing trend of speculative development gaining momentum locally. Most of the buildings under construction are major undertakings measuring hundreds of thousands of square feet, but there are also some as small as 10,000 square feet — and that kind of building activity has not been seen in Kern for years. The developments are noteworthy not because they stand out in a landscape increasingly dotted with large warehouses, in a region that clearly benefits from a lack of available distribution space in Southern California. What’s more striking is the pace at which such investments are happening and the confidence they reflect on the part of developers.

Bakersfield industrial real estate broker Wayne Kress said investors have reacted with greater urgency during the last three years to the county’s central location offering the ability to reach 40 million consumers within a single day’s truck drive. Warehouse tenants in Kern can easily reach ports in Southern and Northern California, and they don’t have to deal with the congested market for industrial property in the traditional logistics hub of the Inland Empire. Kress, a principal at Cushman & Wakefield | Pacific Commercial Realty Advisors in Bakersfield, noted two “spec” developments 1 million square feet or larger under development in Shafter, one at the Wonderful Industrial Park and one next to it. Others are in the works locally as well but Kress said he was not at liberty to discuss them.

Local industrial broker Boyd Binninger, ASU Commercial’s senior vice president of industrial services, said demand is growing lately for smaller buildings as well. He pointed to two spec buildings where construction began about a month ago at the Silver Wings Commercial Center near Meadows Field Airport. One measures about 15,000 square feet, he said, and the other about 10,000 square feet. By his reckoning, it’s been about seven years or more since speculative development of that size took place in the Bakersfield area. “We hadn’t seen a lot of spec building with the exception of the big boys,” he said, adding the developer hopes to undertake additional spec development once the projects now underway lease up.

The tenants expected to fill those spaces will probably be in manufacturing or small distribution operations, he said. What has made such projects difficult, aside from the risk that comes with spec development, is recently high materials costs. Even so, he predicted more industrial development will take place near the airport as such projects gain momentum in the years ahead. Tejon Ranch Co.’s executive vice president of real estate, Joseph N. Rentfro, said in a news release it was very pleased to be working again with Majestic, reportedly the largest privately held industrial developer in the United States. The two companies first partnered in 2016 on a fully leased, 651,909-square-foot property they owned and managed together. Since then, they have spec-developed a 480,480-square-foot building and another measuring 579,040 square feet, both of which reportedly met with strong pre-lease activity and remain fully leased. The two companies’ latest joint venture is their largest spec project to date. “Given the historical success we’ve enjoyed without previous speculative building developments, the lack of vacant space within the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center and the level of demand inquiries we’re fielding for light manufacturing, warehouse and distribution space out of Southern California and elsewhere,” Rentfro stated, “we wanted to move as quickly as possible to bring another new building online.”

The commerce center near the merger of Interstate 5 and Highway 99 is a master-planned retail and industrial development spanning 1,450 acres. For its part, Majestic sees the latest partnership with Tejon Ranch as attractive to tenants seeking a low-cost option compared with the Los Angeles Basin, where it said costs related to living, labor and rentals are relatively high. It said the building will have 136 dock-high doors and a 36-foot clear height. “Beginning with our initial partnership agreement in 2016, we’ve remained incredibly bullish about Tejon Ranch and we’re excited to be breaking ground on our third new building with a partner that sees and is committed to implementing a development vision through the same long-term lens,” Majestic Realty Co. Vice President Tom Simmons said in its news release.

Bank of America gives Kern nonprofits $385,000 to support career opportunities

Bank of America announced Wednesday it has donated $385,000 to be divided among nine Kern County nonprofits as part of its new focus on helping people gets jobs instead of its earlier emphasis on providing emergency money. The organizations listed as receiving donations are: Bakersfield College Foundation, Bakersfield Homeless Center, Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County, Cal State Bakersfield, Circle of Life, CityServe Network, Community Action Partnership of Kern, Garden Pathways and Kern Economic Development Foundation.

Bank of America said in a news release that Garden Pathways expects to spend its share on providing paid internships helping seven at-risk youth develop job skills. It said another 48 high-school students involved with the juvenile justice system will be given opportunities to help mitigate effects of their trauma. CAPK, the release added, is training 20 people who have been living on the street. It said the program, which is a partnership with CityServe and BC, teaches job-interview preparedness, customer relations and computer skills.

Tehachapi welcomes latest changes to high-speed rail plans

Tehachapi City Hall, once a leading local critic of California’s bullet train project, has tentatively given its blessing to plans released Friday for high-speed rail tracks proposed to connect Bakersfield and Palmdale. City Manager Greg Garrett said Monday that, although he and his staff had not finished reading the entirety of the project’s new environmental review, the California High-Speed Rail Authority appears to have made a number of positive changes in response to the city’s requests. Among the most welcome revisions he said were outlined in a meeting Monday morning between Tehachapi officials and rail authority staff were the introduction of two sections of sound walls, one in the Ash Village area and one near Arabian Estates.

Another improvement he pointed to was the agency’s agreement to lower the bullet train route’s height profile through the Tehachapi area, as well as its pledge to accommodate a station that might one day be built in the city. “At this point we do feel that (the rail authority) has addressed our concerns to the point that we can continue to move forward,” he said. “But we would encourage citizens” to review the latest plans as well, he added. Late Friday afternoon the rail authority issued what it termed the final environmental review of an 80-mile alignment mostly following Highway 58 between a proposed station at F Street and Golden State Avenue in Bakersfield and another in Palmdale. The rail authority’s governing board is scheduled to vote in mid-August on whether to adopt the review.

Maps contained in the document show the route would be built on raised viaducts through most of Bakersfield then come down to surface level through the Edison area. Through the Tehachapi Mountains it would run underground as well as at ground level and on viaducts, then proceed mostly along the surface through the Antelope Valley. The rail authority estimates the route will become operational in 2033 as part of the start of service between San Francisco and Los Angeles. That’s about three years after it expects trains traveling up to 220 mph will connect Merced and Bakersfield. Friday’s release has also renewed calls by the Kern Council of Governments for state cooperation on three portions of the proposed Bakersfield-to-Palmdale alignment.

Executive Director Ahron Hakimi said Kern COG has for years spoken with the rail authority about potentially coordinating work on a grade separation he said would improve safety, congestion and other conditions near Edison Highway and Morning Drive. The idea is that work there will take years to plan and, because it has independent utility, the grade separation could begin ahead of the rail segment’s construction timetable. Another project Hakimi said would benefit from an early start on construction is a grade separation at the intersection of highways 58 and 223 near Bakersfield National Cemetery. Early work there would be helpful because excess dirt from the rail authority’s excavation work through the Tehachapi Mountains could be put to use raising part of the intersection.

Extra lanes for eastbound trucks climbing the Tehachapi Pass represent the third project Kern COG wants to see start early. Hakimi said that project has been under consideration for more than 20 years. No formal agreement has been struck to proceed with those projects ahead of other local work, but a representative of the rail authority said by email Monday the agency is interested in collaborating with local jurisdictions to advance all three efforts “as funding becomes available.”

Money to complete the overall project remains an open question. Although the Biden administration recently freed up nearly $1 billion that had been taken away from the project by the Trump administration, tens of billions of dollars are still needed to complete the work. The Biden administration has talked about dedicating money toward the project but has not finalized funding. Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a vocal supporter of California high-speed rail, has been negotiating recently with state legislators on as much as $4.2 billion in new money for the rail project. “Hopefully we’ll have an update on (those discussions) by the end of the month,” rail authority spokeswoman Toni Tinoco said Monday. Garrett, Tehachapi’s city manager, noted the area receives little to no benefit from the project itself, even as Bakersfield and Palmdale will benefit. That’s why he said the possibility of a station one day in Tehachapi seems appealing. “It’s not something that’s in the plan at all but in the future there may be a possibility, right?” he said.

Rail authority CEO Brian Kelly said in a news release Friday that the new environmental review, which followed the public release of a draft in February 2020 and a revised version one year after that, culminates thoughtful study and collaboration with various agencies and local government leaders, community members and other stakeholders. “With this effort, California will have 300 of the 500-mile high-speed rail system environmentally cleared, paving the way for future construction progress into Los Angeles County,” he wrote.

Three Central California colleges receive donations from MacKenzie Scott

Mackenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has made a larger donation and recipients include three campuses in Central California. On Tuesday, Scott and her new husband announced a $ 2.7 billion donation to 286 different organizations.

The list includes UC Merced, West Hills College Lemoore, and Porterville College.

UC Merced states that the $ 20 million it receives is the largest charitable donation in campus history.

Porterville College states that it has received $ 7 million used to educate underserved students and communities.

Scott is one of the wealthiest women in the world and has become known for his multi-billion dollar donations to charity and racial equality issues. Since divorcing Bezos last July, Scott has donated a total of $ 8.5.

Stanislaus State programs ranked as best bachelor’s degrees

Stanislaus State is no stranger to accolades, and this week three of the university’s undergraduate majors were named among the best in the nation. The national recognition comes as part of the online platform’s Top 25 Best Bachelor’s Degrees list released this month, which names Stan State’s sociology, social science and anthropology programs as part of the top degrees in the nation when it comes to their respective fields.

Stan State’s sociology program ranked No. 12 on’s list of top 25 sociology programs in the country, while social science earned a No. 20 ranking compared to other similar programs and anthropology was ranked No. 23. According to the list, Stan State boasts an 89% acceptance rate, 59% graduation rate and 90% of students receive financial aid for the $7,542 tuition. The high rankings are also thanks in part to the university’s acceptance of AP credits from high school, as well as available placement services and career services on campus.

With standout professors and initiatives pertaining to each department, it’s no secret that these three programs thrive at Stan State. Last month, sociology professor Ann Strahm was honored for her outstanding service in faculty governance after concluding six years as a Stan State representative to the Academic Senate of the California State University, serving as chair-elect of the University Educational Policies Committee and as vice president of the Stanislaus chapter of the California Faculty Association, all while serving as chair of the Department of Sociology and Gerontology.

Over in the anthropology department, associate professor of visual anthropology Steve Arounsack recently shared his cultural expertise with Walt Disney Animation Studios for their film “Raya and the Last Dragon” over the course of two years, lending his knowledge of Southeast Asian culture so that the movie could accurately represent the region’s identity.  And in the area of social science, Stan State has taken a stand in recent years when it comes to social issues like race, equality, diversity and inclusion, from installing a Peace Pole on campus to starting a program to recruit more young black men to enroll in college. considered hundreds of universities across the nation and selected its top choices based on academic and career resources, quality of educational offerings, faculty and other criteria. Founded in 2002, its mission is to assist in making higher education more affordable, effective and engaging. More than 40 million visitors per month use the online platform to research potential schools, degrees and careers. The rankings come on the heels of other accolades for the university received earlier this year, like recognition for offering students more bang for their buck when it comes to receiving a high-quality and affordable education, according to an April report by the CSU Office of the Chancellor which highlighted the university’s economic impact on the San Joaquin Valley. According to the report, every dollar the state invests in the University produces a return of $7.41 in positive economic activity.

The report also shed light on the value of Stan State degrees to alumni, their families and the regional economy. In 2019, Stan State alumni who remained in the San Joaquin Valley earned an additional $1.2 billion in earnings attributable to their degree, and alumni who remained in the state earned an additional $1.45 billion.

East Hills Mall sells to investors in Southern California

A Southern California-based real estate development partnership has paid about $7.2 million for the former East Hills Mall, reviving hopes that the dilapidated property in northeast Bakersfield can be put to good use after years of disuse. The new owners, led by developer-investors Stephen Zimmerman and Michael Heslov, on Thursday announced plans to demolish the entire 350,500-square-foot mall and possibly replace it with a mixed-use project. Details of their proposed redevelopment were not disclosed.

The transaction represents the first sign of investment at the 36-acre site since 2017, when a group of local investors agreed to pay $8.75 million for the property. Their plans ultimately fell through, and in December 2019 ownership of the 33-year-old mall reverted to owners led by Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets. Zimmerman said in a news release Thursday the new owners were impressed by Bakersfield’s diverse economy and quality of growth and development. “This property is extremely well located and is ideally suited for new commercial and perhaps mixed-used development,” he stated. Added Heslov, “The city of Bakersfield has demonstrated support for the redevelopment of this property and we look forward to working with them and the community to bring about a quality project.”

City government said by email it is hopeful about the project and what it can offer the surrounding community. “We also look forward to working with the developers,” he said. “The city stands ready to facilitate the development process and have productive discussion when a project proposal comes forward.” Observers in the local real estate industry have long speculated what might make the best reuse of the property, which has deteriorated in recent years as people have repeatedly broken into the vacant mall and caused extensive damage. Some real estate people have said housing might make sense there, or entertainment, or some combination of the two. Retail might also work there but there’s a worry that e-commerce has limited consumers’ appetite for a large grouping of conventional department stores and shops.

State records show Zimmerman is president of Arizona-based ZDI Inc., which has offices in Santa Monica and Van Nuys. They show Heslov is active in Southern California as well. Kern County property records indicate the sale was recorded Wednesday. They show the property’s ownership was divided among five limited liability companies. The largest share went to 1240 Palmetto LLC, with 47.7 percent of the property. Palmetto Group LLC took 26 percent and Valley Oaks Investments LLC got 15.3 percent. Terrace Properties LLC obtained 6.2 percent and Hope Shields LLC (misspelled on the deed as Hope Sheilds LLC) secured 4.8 percent.

Among the ownership entities, only one — Nevada’s 1240 Palmetto — is based outside California. The seller and buyers were represented by Orbell Ovaness, Ara Rostamian and Aren Ohanian of Marcus & Millichap. Cushman & Wakefield/Pacific principal Vincent Roche consulted on the transaction.


New transit center to bring face lift downtown, expand service

Downtown Hanford is in for a major face lift by 2024, courtesy of a $20 million transit system which is about to enter the design phase. Angie Dow, director of Kings Area Rural Transit, said the organization has outgrown its existing transit center, an open-air transfer station on 7th Street between a gym and the Amtrak station.

A study looking at improving the existing location found that the railroad made the location too loud, restricted the movement of buses and, more importantly, prevented KART from expanding service into transportation “deserts.” “The new transit center will ultimately allow for growth of our transit system, which will be of tremendous value to a significant population of our city that are dependent on public transportation,” said City Manager Mario Cifuentez.

While some business owners in the downtown area were nervous when the project was announced, Brown said KART’s plans to match the historic look of downtown, keep 24-hour security and have mixed-use spaces could increase interest in filling vacancies in nearby buildings. “We want to hopefully engage other developments around us,” Dow said. “Transit is a place where we move people through … there’s a lot of movement. We’re trying to design a facility that’s more geared around being a place people want to be.” On top of incorporating commercial space, Dow said the new center is being designed to serve as a cooling center. She said the switch would help the city save money because the transit center’s hours match cooling center hours, and they’ll have more amenities which residents might want while waiting for temperatures to drop. Dow said the center will also include solar power generation, electric vehicle charging, park-and-ride lots, bike lockers, parking for ride-share services and connection to Amtrak and other regional transit services.

The center will allow KART to get feedback from riders more readily, as the administration building and transit center will be in the same place and they may be able to integrate more technology to survey the public, Dow said. Dow said the planning of the center is not yet complete and they are still looking into tenants and options to add affordable housing. Having a transit center near population centers, like the neighborhoods downtown, will make Hanford more attractive in competitive loan applications, she said. KART will be awarding a design firm contract on Wednesday, starting an 18-month design period. Dow said they expect the project to be completed no later than 2024. KART is looking to fund the construction phase with grants.