Tehachapi City Manager Greg Garrett said the cancellation of local events will have a huge impact on tourism and the economy.
During an Aug. 10 interview with Tehachapi News, he said he was disappointed about the cancellation of the Tehachapi Mountain Festival, but completely understands the necessity of the decision due to the coronavirus pandemic that has also caused most of Tehachapi's other events to be put on hold.
"Difficult decisions have been made, but we support the Chamber and all that they do," the city manager said, referring to the organization that puts on Mountain Festival.
Asked what economic impact this will have on the tourism industry for 2020, Garrett said, "HUGE. Not just tourism, but the ripple effect will be huge, too. The Mountain Festival is the granddaddy of all of Tehachapi's festivals. It has been a mainstay and staple of this community for 50-plus years. The economics will be hard to measure."
In addition to the impact the cancellation will have on local hotels and restaurants, Garrett said it would also impact local businesses.
"But we completely understand why that decision was made," Garrett said.
As for what citizens are dealing with on a state — and national — level, Garrett said he was super frustrated.
Said Garrett, "I have to say that there is a lack of leadership on every level when it comes to COVID-19, and there is a lack of understanding of the numbers, and data which continues to be produced is erroneous — and which is way behind and incorrect. Everything that is going on is so frustrating and so inappropriate that I don't know how that, we as a society, can continue to trust. How can we be part of the solution?"
In particular, Garrett said he is frustrated with the backlog in reporting the number of recovered coronavirus cases, the lack of follow-up and the non-reporting of 7,000 cases in the state.
Said Garrett, "This is an epic fiasco."
In other news, Garrett said he was proud of the fact that the Tehachapi Airport was host to the U.S. Forest Service, Kern County Fire Department and other private helicopter companies for staging of recent fires, including the Stagecoach Fire that charred nearly 8,000 square acres and destroyed 40 structures, and the fire that occurred on Highway 202.
"We were happy that we could accommodate them," said Garrett.
In local development, Garrett said the Planning Commission approved a new mini storage facility on Tehachapi Boulevard next to the Little Red Caboose.
Said Garrett, "It is going to be remodeled, transformed and redone to a very high-quality look and feel mini-storage facility. It is a great project that we are in support of and the Planning Commission agreed and voted to approve. So once again, our city continues to grow."