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Neighboring community reacts to city councils decision on purchasing Calcot for new homeless shelter

Posted at 8:18 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 23:18:36-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Bakersfield City Council voted to purchase the Calcot Limited Facility in East Bakersfield as the new homeless shelter.

City council voted four-to-three in favor of purchasing the Calcot property, off of 1900 East Brundage Lane.

The decision has left many in the community with mixed emotions.

John Sacco, the owner of Sierra International Machinery, says he was not in favor of the shelter.

"If we are one community then why doesn’t every community take a little bit here and there," Sacco said. "I am welcoming these guys next door, I have to adapt. This is not the first time the government has made a rule or passed something that hurts."

Sacco says he has lived his entire life here and grew up working at the family business.

His facility is right next door to Calcot and tells 23ABC, his main concern is safety for his employees and of those of the shelter.

"There are no sidewalks, there is one street light and its pretty dark during the day," Sacco said.

Sacco says he asked city council to place the entrance of the facility on Washington St., to avoid the busy intersection, but he says council said no.

"I been told they are going to help with my fence line because we have a long fence line with Calcot," said Sacco.

"People with substance abuse need money to feed their habit and the best way for people to get money is to steal copper and metal."

Sacco is not the only individual in the community that is opposing the new shelter.

Arleana Waller is the founder of the MLK Community Initiative. The purpose of the group is to revitalize, provide resources and support the people of Southeast Bakersfield.

"Every month with the MLK Community Initiative, we have been planning where we would like housing, where we would like lights and where we would like to have safe parks," Waller said. "Not one member or resident ever said they want a homeless shelter."

Waller says the shelter will not assist in building this community back up. Waller adds that she was heartbroken with the Calcot decision.

Despite collecting 1,000 signatures from community members opposing the 150-bed shelter.

City officials say after three years the shelter has the potential to expand to 450 beds. Also, city officials tell 23ABC, the signatures were received and filed with the city council for consideration before the decision was made.

"This area is a double-digit unemployment area," Waller said. "They have been asking for resources for the past 30 years its barren."

"And to collect 1,000 signatures from residents who say no to Calcot and to have that ignored is yet another insult to this community," said Waller.

During Wednesday's meeting, the city council approved a motion directing staff to develop neighborhood improvement plans for the areas surrounding the Calcot location and the area around the Kern County Homeless shelter project.