Concerns over pharmacy and fast food restaurant in Northwest Bakersfield

Local homeowners anticipate more traffic

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Some Northwest Bakersfield homeowners are concerned about plans to build a drive-thru pharmacy and fast food restaurant in a vacant lot on the southeast corner of Olive Drive and Victor Street.

"When you try to get on Victor Street at seven in the morning you might as well sit there with your coffee and donuts for a half an hour because you're not getting out," said concerned resident Mike Smart.

"It will drastically impact our ability to get in and out of the neighborhood along with increased traffic, " said Charlene Battles.

Battles has been a resident in her neighborhood for 37 years and has seen a lot of changes, but she told 23 ABC  she's very disappointed with the design of the new development.

"The entrance and exit is at Victor Street along the block wall of the fire department and will back up traffic. It needed to go to retail for money. We understand that. We just wanted them to work with us to make the plan more user friendly, " explained Battles.

Battles says developers were going to build on the lot back in 2006, but plans fell through. Neighbors say developers were going to build a wall on Victor Street so cars wouldn't be entering and exiting there. However, this new plan doesn't include a fence or wall.

"It's a neighborhood community. You know we have families here we have an elementary school down the street."

Smart also told 23 ABC that one of his major concerns is that kindergartners would be walking along Victor Street after school.

"The thing we don't want to happen is someone coming out of the restaurant drive-thru or pharmacy drive-thru whatever you want to call it and hit a little child coming to and from school. 

Kern County supervisors approved the zone change Tuesday night after hearing from the Kern County Planning Commission, Kern County Roads Department, developers and concerned residents.

Craig Pope, Director of the Kern County Roads Department, told 23 ABC studies have been done in the area and the project was approved ahead of time.

Pope says they are working on a solution to the traffic issue now.

"We have a project going on out there right now to put two lanes on Highway 99. We think that will alleviate the Olive drive traffic problem which should alleviate the Victor Street problem."

Residents are hopeful it will, but still don't think a "big box pharmacy" and fast food restaurant are a good fit for the community. 

"Retail will come we know that, but it shouldn't come at the expense and quality of life of the people that live in this neighborhood," said Battles.

Several residents including Battles, Smart and Geoff Taylor have sent letters to the Planning Commission and their district supervisor about the plan months ago. They say they are still hoping to talk to the developers about ways to keep their neighborhood family friendly.

23 ABC reached out to the developers, but have not heard back yet.

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