Downtown Business Association leader talks action plan in wake of vandalism incidents


Following a string of vandalism incidents in Downtown Bakersfield, leaders with the Downtown Business Association are working with police and with one another to prevent future incidents from taking place.

“It’s stressful,” said Melanie Farmer, president of the Downtown Business Association. She said the DBA is working to combat the vandalism issue through initiatives like the Block To Block program.

“We’re getting block captains for each block, and this is how we are all coming together as businsses and as a community downtown to watch each other,” she said.

While the Block to Block program was launched by the DBA before the most previous incidents, the program has regained attention after vandals struck many downtown businesses including Blue Oak Coffee Shop and the Guarantee Shoe Center during the summer months.

Earlier this week, two vandals were caught on camera throwing rocks into the windows of the Slice of Italy restaurant overnight on Monday and Tuesday. The windows and doors at the restaurant remained boarded up on Thursday.

“It’s a lot of window,” said owner Balwinder Brar, adding it may cost $8,000 to $9,000 to repair the window. “I don’t know why he’s doing that. That’s the biggest problem in our community,” Brar said about the vandals.

Bakersfield police data obtained by KGET shows from Aug. 1, 2018 through July 31, 2019, 99 business vandalism and another 155 business burglaries took place downtown.

Farmer said the DBA is in constant communication with the police, but she also wanted the community to know downtown is safe and remains open for business.

“It’s booming. It’s wonderful,” she said. “You’ve got east Chester with dot x ott [SIC], Cafe Smitten, 18 Hundred, and then across you still have the Eagles for nice steak dinner Friday night, the Mark, [and] the Fox Theater.”

“There’s a lot of good things happening in downtown. It’s just how you deal with it and how you handle it. We’re working closely with police so that we can get our businesses informed so we can all work together to get a handle on it and stop it.”

If you recognize the vandals from the surveillance footage, you are asked to call BPD at 661-327-7111.

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