BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – It’s a problem on everyone’s mind: downtown safety. So much that local politicians have stepped forward to talk about the issue. and residents have started implementing new programs to help each other out.
Downtown business owners have long been complaining about the vandalism and growing homelessness in their area. Many claims, there have been many times they’ve feared for their safety.
“You know, there were nights when we thought this is a zombie apocalypse, they’re everywhere, but now we have well-lit areas, it’s clean, everybody has proper security,” said Cassie Bittle, owner, and operator of KC Steakhouse. “And unfortunately we’re pushing those people into the outlying areas with no shelter beds.”
She’s talking about the city’s delayed vote on a potential shelter site.
She along with other downtown business owners and county officials were present at Wednesday’s city council meeting hoping to address the homelessness problem
“Our people are suffering, our businesses are suffering,” said Bittle. “I think it’s important that we look at this now.”
County Supervisor David Couch, also present, offered to help the city in any way he can.
“We would like to work with you on your project to ensure the success if we can and we’d like to invite you to be part of our project if you choose to be,” said Couch.
Downtown Bakersfield residents also working on finding ways to keep downtown safe.
“We’re teaching each other that lighting your building helps,” said Dixie Brewer, chairman of Block Captains program. “We’re teaching that ‘throw up a few cameras, get a video of these people’ if we see them going from place to place then we’ll have enough information for the police to make arrests.”
Block to block captains is a program that kicked off in March. In every block, one of the businesses steps forward as Block Captain. He or she then represents the block on issues or problems that need the city’s attention. they’re also in charge of keeping the block informed and getting them together.
“It’s a revolution of neighbors helping neighbors, so the more in contact we are with our neighbors, the better off we are watching after each other,” said Brewer.
There are currently 70 block captains representing over 500 businesses downtown.
“While we’re all working together and communicating with each other, they’re stopping,” said Brewer. “It’s working, they know we’re on to them.
If you are interested in becoming a block captain, you can fill out an application on bakersfielddba.com