Bakersfield Approves HR&A’s High-Speed Rail Implementation Strategy

This spring, the Bakersfield City Council approved the implementation strategies to leverage the transformative potential of high-speed rail investments.

One of the most documented effects of high-speed rail is the increased station area concentration and density of development that coincide with high-speed rail service. Given these effects, high-speed rail presents a unique opportunity for Bakersfield to concentrate a portion of its future growth inward, building on the progress already made in its downtown area, and lessening the negative impacts of suburban sprawl such as congestion and air pollution. However, in order to take advantage of this growth potential, Bakersfield needed a vision to guide the physical development of its downtown, stimulate economic activity, and enhance sustainability by encouraging infill development and enhancing multi-modal connectivity.


For over a year and a half, HR&A and SOM have worked with the City of Bakersfield, residents, and local stakeholders to develop a vision for downtown Bakersfield, both as the remerging core of the City, and as the future location of a high-speed rail station. This public outreach process provided an incredible opportunity for the community to come together and form an authentic vision plan for the overall downtown area. This effort, along with our market analysis highlighting key opportunities to capture demand, has culminated in the creation of a strategy to make downtown Bakersfield “high-speed rail ready” in the next 10 years.


To achieve this vision, a specific 10-, 20- and 30-year phased development strategy was developed, accompanied by an expansive list of physical and policy Implementation Actions that align with the project goals. The following is a list of prioritized initiatives that link project goals with real-world actions intended to make downtown Bakersfield thrive:


  1. Launch a property-based business improvement district
  2. Recognize that a proactive economic development promotion arm is needed in the city’s community development department to facilitate increased investment and revitalization throughout the community
  3. Activate an innovative tax increment financing tool created by the City and explore additional financing tools
  4. Utilize resources and partnerships to increase the population in the downtown area to 10,000 residents by 2030
  5. Implement an iconic and catalytic housing and mixed-use development project in the downtown
  6. Adopt an overlay zone to support development along the Wall Street alley area from D Street, to the Mill Creek Linear Park
  7. Adopt a series of zoning updates that incentivize downtown redevelopment
  8. Use vision plan as a platform for a future downtown land use plan
  9. Adopt a downtown walkability plan
  10. Leverage publicly-owned parcels for economic development


For additional information, please contact HR&A Principal Judith Taylor.