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Bakersfield City Council meets while grassroots organization calls for change

Bakersfield City Council (FILE)
Posted at 11:33 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 02:33:59-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Wednesday's Bakersfield City Council meeting covered several major issues impacting the city, including the city's budget for the next fiscal year, and before the meeting began, a group of demonstrators, calling themselves the "People's Budget of Bakersfield" gathered outside.

The group said they want to see change when it comes to local law enforcement.

We are a grassroots, black-led, black-centered, abolitionist group in Bakersfield that seek to abolish the police. Our first step is defunding the police and one of the ways in which we are doing that is through creating a budget that reflects what the people of Bakersfield want. Compared to the current budget that we have every single year. And just gives money to the police and does not benefit the services needed for the most marginalized communities here in Bakersfield, said Faheemah Salahud-Din Floyd, People's Budget of Bakersfield.

After demonstrating outside for about an hour, the group went inside to take part in the public comment portion of the meeting to share their concerns.

Another one of the topics the Bakersfield City Council will continue to discuss is the construction of housing for the homeless in downtown Bakersfield. The project was last discussed at a meeting back in March where it was given a 2-month extension to begin its construction. The plan would build 20 units on the corner of 22nd and Q Streets. Those units would then prioritize senior citizens and set aside some units for the homeless population. The project is now expected to start construction at the end of next month. Which would mean that construction would be finished in august of next year. Tenants would be able to begin moving in by August after construction is completed.

Also discussed was the demolition of the Southern Pacific Train Station, in Old Town Kern. Sumner station was built in the 1800s, and community members have been fighting for weeks to keep the historic building. The structure is in major need of repair.

City council staff has come up with two options, either lease the property for the next year to give time to make those improvements or tear down the building.