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What issues are in Downtown Bakersfield? Here's what your officials think

That and more were discussed at the State of the Downtown Breakfast
Vince Fong answering Ava Kershner's question
Posted at 5:54 AM, Feb 19, 2024
  • 23ABC's Ava Kershner talks to your local officials about where they see the future of downtown Bakersfield heading.
  • Plus, a new app made just for downtown Bakersfield is out now- Watch the video for more information.

“Downtown’s the heart of Bakersfield. When we talk about our community, I live in downtown …and so this is a special place,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong.

Local officials praised the area of downtown Bakersfield on Friday at the 70th anniversary of the State of the Downtown Breakfast.

Also celebrating former president Melanie Farmer retiring from the position after 14 years with the Downtown Business Association, who is feeling:

“Sad, good, excited,” said Farmer.

But she’s not going far, as she will still have a position on the board.

“I'll be downtown, I'll be around, I believe in downtown,” said Farmer.

Throughout the breakfast: homelessness, public safety, and retail theft were the main focuses of local officials.

“So you were saying earlier that funding needs to be tailored to these specific communities. What would you say Downtown Bakersfield needs?” I asked.

“When we talk about downtown Bakersfield, the challenges downtown faces when it comes to homelessness and when it comes to public safety. And so we need to actually change the laws, actually provide more consequences so that our DAs and our law enforcement can go after criminal behavior,” said Fong.

And the former president agrees.

“It's been rough, we're not going to sugarcoat it, just like Vince Fong said, it's been rough …We're working on it, I mean we just have to pull together,” said Farmer.

One major step for the location is a new app designed to bring people to the downtown area.

“The app has a lot of features. One of the features obviously for businesses is that people can look for categories, for example you have restaurants, you can see the restaurants, you can see their information,” said Gus Martinez.

Gus Martinez, who designed the app, says that the features are friendly for tourists and locals.

“You can see road closures by selecting road closures and see exactly what street is going to be closed in the downtown area,” said Martinez.

As for what the future of the area could look like, despite the issues businesses face, many are still hopeful.

“This city is poised for tremendous growth, when you talk about the future of our city, it's only going to continue to grow. We're still affordable, I think families love coming to downtown. I think more and more people are wanting to raise their families,” said Fong.

To download the app, you can head to the App Store or Google Play store and search DBA- Downtown Bakersfield. The app is free to download.


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