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Kern County residents frustrated over who is responsible for cleaning up homeless encampments

Homeless encampments outside of Bakersfield city limits
Posted at 6:51 PM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-06 19:21:31-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Residents in an East Bakersfield community say homeless encampments in their neighborhood have drained their quality of life.

"Tents, tarps ... make shift homes, rows and rows of them," fill a stretch of open space, adjacent to dozens of homes on Center and Tauchen Streets, according to Kellye Lomeli, a resident near Center and Tauchen streets.

Lomeli says the abundance of such encampments have stained the community with trash, drug paraphernalia and fear of their safety.

Community members in her neighborhood said they were aware of a Rapid Response team that cleans out homeless encampments, like the ones in their community.

However, that team is only authorized to provide those services within city limits -- Lomeli's community is in a county pocket and is about two miles from that jurisdiction.

Kern County officials say their public works division is responsible for cleaning up such encampments.

Heidi Carter Escudero, a public works spokeswoman, said they are only authorized to remove such encampments on county property.

Though the homeless encampments in Lomeli's community is within county jurisdiction, the land is owned by Union Pacific, a railroad company, because it's near train tracks.