BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Abandoned and damaged buildings can be seen in neighborhoods throughout Bakersfield, but the city council hopes to change that.

On Wednesday, the council unanimously voted to approve the purchase of 16 tax-defaulted, “chronic nuisance” properties. Most are located in Ward 2, represented by Councilmember Andrae Gonzales, who has urged the city to take action.

“We have to respond, and we have to do it far more quickly than we’ve done it in the past because we are seeing far more properties becoming blights,” said Gonzales.

The city will use American Rescue Plan Act funding to place bids on vacant properties like 2825 California Ave. at a public auction. The building is boarded up but remains vacant and damaged, which is attractive for squatters. One man even climbed out of a window, as 17 News was on site. Gonzales says that is why this action is more important than ever.

“We’ve been complaining and bellyaching about this property well over two years […] and so through this work, through this sort of call to action, we’ve been able to develop various tools to address chronic nuisance properties throughout the city,” said Gonzales.

Councilmember Eric Arias agrees and believes these buildings could make a big impact.

“We’re in a housing crisis of all different types, oftentimes when there is not enough housing for a particular population the folks who get squeezed out are the folks who are most vulnerable,” said Arias.

The city plans to renovate the buildings for public or private use, if not purchased by someone else at the auction. A part of the council’s goal to revitalize the city as a whole according to Arias.

“This really an opportunity for us to revitalize the community and demonstrate that the city of Bakersfield cares and we really care about improving the quality of our neighborhoods and improving the quality of life for everybody,” said Arias.

The public auction for these tax-defaulted buildings will be from March 13 to March 15.