I have lived in Oildale for 23 years. Yes, I recognize my community has many problems. But I have always been proud to be an Oildalian. The homes are not cookie-cutter and many folks mow their own lawns. However, over the years, I have come to recognize that part of the charm of Oildale also creates some of its shortfalls. When Oildale was designed in the 1930s, the idea of urban planning was not well-established. The well-intentioned designers of Oildale did not lay out the community for the number of people or, most notably, the number of vehicles that currently reside in the "08" ZIP code.
Here are some ideas that would make Oildale a safer place to raise our children and that I think the original designers of our community would approve of.
First and foremost, Oildale would be a safer place for our kids to walk to and from school if we installed more sidewalks. I often watch children walk in the street next to moving traffic. Unregulated intersections coupled with heavy residential traffic flow have made Oildale a dangerous place for pedestrians.
Next, I would slow down traffic on some of the busier residential streets by adding more stops. A perfect example is McCray Street between Norris Road and China Grade Loop. This is a busy street for both cars and people that can be difficult for pedestrians to cross during peak traffic periods. A stop or two on McCray between Norris and China Grade would slow down traffic on a major route that children walk to get to North High School. Putting up some stop signs and painting crosswalks is an extremely cost-effective way of slowing down vehicle speeds and creating safer places for pedestrians to cross.
A quaint aspect of the 'Dale is the large number of unregulated intersections. In many ways, they are a quintessential aspect of Oildale, a metaphorical statement about the place in so many ways and on so many levels. Given a blank canvas, this is what the designers thought a community with half as many people and a third as many cars should look like. And unregulated intersections with a few 25 mph signs posted in many parts of Oildale would continue to suffice. However, numerous unregulated intersections throughout just the Wingland Square area alone have far more auto traffic than they were ever designed to handle. Live here long enough and you, too, will have the privilege of being brought back to life from a dead sleep to the sound of screeching tires, the crunch of steel and the breaking of glass.
Another charming aspect of Oildale is the lot sizes. Modest by today's supersized mentality, every well-kept home can begin to resemble a trip to grandmother's house. However, this too creates a shortcoming. This place was designed for kids to "spill out" into the narrow empty streets in a world with fewer people and a lot less cars. With small yards, it's where the kids used to play.
This brings me to my final improvement. I would begin to create a process for residents on narrow side streets to petition to "dead end" their streets. Some respectable and valid studies have shown this to help reduce crime, most notably residential burglary. On Charlana Drive, nothing would make me happier than being able to dead-end the street at Norris Road. I am tired of watching people race their vehicles through unregulated residential intersections at high speeds with mothers pushing strollers in the street next to them.
As a community, we should begin to proactively take measures to make Oildale a safer place for pedestrians to walk and children to play. We would all benefit by changing our streets from a Famoso Raceway into a place where you wave at your neighbor as he slowly drives by. Other unincorporated communities have made their homes better places to live. So can Oildale.
Noel Pineo is a nonpartisan community activist in Oildale. He is also a substitute teacher, amateur paleontologist and vintage bicycle hobbyist. Community Voices is an expanded commentary of 650 to 700 words. The Californian reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and clarity.