BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — It may seem harmless to leave unwanted items in areas where you aren't supposed to but illegal dumping can lead to bigger problems. That rings particularly true for communities trying to attract new residents and businesses.
A year ago if you drove past Horace Mann Elementary the empty lot across the street was filled with trash. due to illegal dumping and homeless encampments.
Chief of Staff for Supervisor Mike Maggard and Hillcrest resident Jeff Flores said he couldn’t let this continue.
“In the County of Kern, our code enforcement is really driven by reports and complaints. So if the department doesn’t get any complaints coming in, they’re not going to enforce it," said Flores. "So this is opposite, we’ve been proactive in taking the lead and not waiting for complaints to come in.”
In September of last year, they notified businesses surrounding the lot about the ongoing illegal dumping.
“You know in their defense, a lot of it is not their issue. People are illegally dumping, that is the root of it," said Flores. "But they do have an obligation to maintain their property, so that’s why they also get cited.”
Once businesses took control of their areas Flores worked with his staff and volunteers to clean the remaining spaces.
“You know, there are shopping centers near Haggin Oaks where I grew up, and they don’t have this problem," explained Flores. "I live down that street in Hillcrest and we don’t want this problem either. We want to look just as good as other parts of town.”
For the past year, Flores has kept a watchful eye, and while this project held a special place in his heart, he says the improvements to the east side are ongoing.
“To continue to sustain progress made here but also to start building outside of that, work on the Oswell corridor," said Flores explaining the progress they've made. "We’ve done around $250,000 worth of improvements from Pico to College and Oswell."