NewsCovering Kern County


Homeless camps near Hart Park scaring locals from visiting the area

People say they don't know who to call
Posted at 5:24 PM, May 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-16 20:24:42-04

Increased trash and homeless camps near Hart Park in Northeast Bakersfield has neighbors telling 23 ABC they're concerned for their safety.

Brittanie Lingo and her dog Outlaw live in Oildale. She said she has seen the camps push families from walking along the Kern River near Hart Park.

Lingo said, "It's getting worse. You know it started with, you know, one or two. But, now it's getting to be more. And they're not leaving."

Lingo said, lately, she see her normal spots now have homeless people living there. And she gets scared when she walks her dog near the camps.

"People out here yelling at people, just trying to run us off from you know bringing our dogs and our kids out here. It's just, it's not right," said Lingo.

City officials said it's not against the law to be homeless, but people are not allowed to camp on public property. The best thing someone can do if they feel threatened by an encampment is to call the code enforcement office. They can either send someone to investigate the call or forward the call to right government agency whose jurisdiction it is to investigate the call.

Bakersfield Code Enforcement supervisor, Billy Owen, said, "When it comes specifically to the riverbed enforcement, we do do coordinated projects in the riverbed, where the initial visit out there, the main focus is getting the help agencies out there. And getting outreach out to the individuals there."

One of those outreach agencies is the Homeless Collaborative. And their homelessness project manager, Jessica Janssen, said, being respectful and patient can go along way to help them help the homeless.

"It's not an overnight process. It's, it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of relationship building, but there's a lot of people who are dedicated to this work, who are passionate about this work and are doing this work," said Janssen.

Lingo said when she walks along the river she does try help clean up trash. She also hopes for a walk she doesn't have to think twice about.

"I hope it's families having fun. You know not having to worry about the drugs and the trash and people chasing you," said Janssen.

Here are some Kern County agencies you can call if you see an illegal encampment in Kern County:

Bakersfield Code Enforcement: 661-326-3712

Kern County Sheriff's Office: 661-391-7500

United Way of Kern County: 661-834-1580