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Bakersfield Downtown Business Association pushes for an anti-camping ordinance

"I am supporting the county on this ordinance.”
Homeless, Bakersfield, July 14, 2021
Homeless, Bakersfield, July 14, 2021
Homeless, Bakersfield, July 14, 2021
Homeless, Bakersfield, July 14, 2021
Homeless, Bakersfield, July 14, 2021
Posted at 2:06 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 11:49:56-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — On Monday, an ordinance that would ban camping on Bakersfield streets was presented to the Downtown Business Association in a Block-to-Block meeting.

Association officials say District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer joined the and shared more about the next steps of the anti-camping ordinance. They believe having Zimmer as a partner is bringing a new sense of hope to the safety of downtown, especially with the possibility of this new ordinance.

Cassie Bittle, whose family owns KC’s Steakhouse downtown says she thinks the ordinance is important in keeping a positive quality of life in Downtown Bakersfield.

"I don’t think any business or any homes should have to worry about encampments forming on their doorsteps or on their property or on the city streets," said Bittle. "People should be able to walk to the parks and they should be able to feel safe walking down our city streets. So I am supporting the county on this ordinance.”

The ordinance, if the same as Los Angeles County, would no longer allow people to camp, erect tents, make living accommodations, or sleep on public sidewalks or thoroughfares.

Melanie Farmer, president of the Downtown Business Association, agrees that homeless encampments are just getting worse.

“We’re just getting more and more of the encampments and they’re at the front door and they’re aggressive, and it makes it very difficult for our businesses to open up and do business.”

But the DBA is also looking into getting private security. Several business owners say this is needed to keep their businesses safe and free from crime.

“I think that the private security and the ordinance will work hand in hand. Without both of them, it’s just not going to work,” said Bittle

The business owners say the goal is not to push everyone out just to make sure everyone feels welcome and safe.

“It’s not only a help for our business but it's a help for the individuals themselves to get them help," argued Farmer. "It's a way to push them to make a decision to be able to help themselves.”

“There are always those individuals, there are the nomads that enjoy living on the streets and we’re not trying to put everybody away but everybody’s quality of life is important so if somebody is being detrimental to a business, that’s when this ordinance comes in,” added Bittle.

The Downtown Business Association will now take the information about the ordinance to their governing board to decide if the association will back the ordinance.


23ABC Interview: Cassie Brittle, Owner of KC's Steakhouse


23ABC Interview: Melanie Farmer, President & CEO, Downtown Business Association