California Health


California Health: Clean up crews are asking for help picking up trash in Bakersfield streets

Posted at 8:01 AM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-09 18:46:54-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Trash, you can find it everywhere in the streets of Bakersfield. Some parts of town has more trash than others. City clean up crews and volunteers are asking for help in trying to keep our streets clean.

Jayden Lemus is an eight-year-old who volunteered during Keep Bakersfield Beautiful's clean up. He said he's shocked to see trash in the streets, "When I see a whole bunch of trash on the floor, I'm like "Oh my God.'"

Driving down the street 23 ABC found a beer can Doritos wrapper in northwest Bakersfield, a French fries box and napkin at Seven Oaks, cardboard boxes along Rosedale Highway. There is trash along the roads across Bakersfield.

Priscilla Arias also helped with Keep Bakersfield Beautiful. She said, "It's sad, because it's not something you yourself would do in your own home right?"

No one side of town is immune to plastic bags in bushes or cups in the middle of the street. As Bakersfield grows, so does the amount of trash the city and volunteers clean from the streets.

Michael Connor is the Bakersfield street superintendent. He said, "A couple of years ago we probably would have been four truck loads a day and now we're five since it's grown in the last couple of years."

That's five ten-yard dump trucks filled with trash a day Bakersfield's street sweepers are picking up. That's enough trash to fill two full football fields a week. Other than trash looking messy Connor said, having trash in our streets posed serious problems.

"You've got the environmental stuff," said Connor. "You don't want the pollutants to get into the storm drain system get into the sumps where it gets into the groundwater. If we have rain occurring, you want to make sure the trash is picked up so it doesn't block a storm drain and flood a street."

Right now Bakersfield sweeps every street at least once a month. But Connor said that's not enough.

"If we could get it where we could get the sweepers to sweep twice a month that would be even better," said Connor. "Right now just to get just to get the once a month we're really scrapping."

Bakersfield has a couple of groups helping pick up trash across the city. The Street Ambassadors is a program started with help from former mayor Harvey Hall, employing some of Bakersfield's homeless population to help pick up trash downtown. Keep Bakersfield Beautiful is another organization that coordinates volunteers to pick up trash in different parts of Bakersfield every Saturday morning.

Last Saturday during the California Coastal Cleanup Day, Priscilla Arias and Jayden Lemus helped pick up around Truxtun Lake.

Lemus said, "We picked up a lot of metal stuff and we picked up cushions, then we picked up a tire wheel that we found."

Arias said she volunteers regularly to pick up trash downtown after First Fridays. She said she's shocked at what she find.

"We're so quick to judge trash and label it as trash from homelessness, but the majority of the trash that I pick up is from people downtown or just walking down the street," said Arias. "Even driving down the street I've seen people chuck things out their window."

While there is a problem with trash caused by homeless encampments in Bakersfield, Heather Pennella, the 2019 Chair for Keep Bakersfield Beautiful, also see a lot of trash not from homelessness, but from carelessness.

"I do think between breeze and people just not being respectful," said Pennella, "quite a few Starbucks cups, that look like they're thrown out on Truxtun Extension, that could be out of a car window. Or you know simple things of we, debris that's blowing out. Sometimes there's going to be wrappers that you know you throw it in the back of your truck, well it's going to get picked up."

Now the city and volunteers are asking for more help from the community to keep Bakersfield beautiful. Encourage those who litter to pick up after themselves and teach your children to pick up trash starting when they're young.

And Jayden said others should do what he has learned.

"Put them in trash cans," said Jayden. "Because if you put them somewhere else that it do not belong in the stuff you put in, it will not go well."

23ABC's Scott Sheahen picked up 4-5 bags of trash while filming video for the story. Trash was filmed on Calloway Drive, Coffee Road, Golden State Avenue, Ming Aveune, Rosedale Highway, Truxtun Extension and Union Avenue.