Downtown business owners frustrated with vandalism and homelessness crisis

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – A group of unhappy downtown business owners met this morning for their monthly breakfast. 

They vented over vandalism and demanded that a solution be found for our city’s homeless crisis. 

“We should not have to be in fear of opening up our businesses in the morning, and our customers shouldn’t be fearful of these people laying around and when we close our businesses at night we shouldn’t have to pray that our windows aren’t broken,” said one business owner. 

Dozens of business owners showed up to the monthly Downtown Business Association’s meeting to voice their opinions on Bakersfield’s homeless population. 

“I have a lady that lays there every night, that can’t be safe,” said a downtown business owner. “You’re not looking out for her safety or mine.”

The group demanded solutions from city representatives

“There’s just so much to do and explore downtown that if we don’t solve this homeless crisis then it will hurt our businesses,” said Cassie Bettle, owner of KC Steakhouse.

“People are frustrated right now and for good reason, this issue has grown, not just in downtown, but it’s grown all over Bakersfield,” said City councilman Andrae Gonzales.

Gonzales says the city is working hard to address the problem. He asks the community to be patient.

“It will take some time, but we are getting on it,” said Gonzales.

The city is looking to develop a new shelter in Bakersfield since the two existing ones are often full. 

“We’ve been looking quickly for different models for a low-barrier shelter, we’re looking at different sites, we’re developing a business model that will work for this shelter and we will be moving this along,” said Gonzales. “Staff will be bringing this up to cancel next month.”

Gonzales says that once the shelter is in place and there are enough available beds for our city’s homeless individuals, they will be able to enforce anti-camping ordinances.

Downtown business owners also want to invite the community to their cleanup day taking this place this Saturday. If you’re interested, you are asked to meet the group at the Fox Theatre at 7 a.m. 

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