NewsCovering Kern County


One Homeless encampment in East Bakersfield is virtually untouchable

Posted at 7:43 PM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 22:43:43-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Some residents call the homeless encampment in East Bakersfield a filthy whirlwind of trash.

Others who live by the encampment on Mount Vernon Avenue and Kentucky Street, say its a plague growing in their community.

"I don't know any of these people," resident Jennifer Alanda said. "There is more [transients] now than there ever was before."

While the adjectives they used defer, residents told 23ABC News that one thing is apparent -- their community is neglected and the encampments are not maintained by authorities.

City and county officials confirmed Monday that they can't clean out the encampment because it's on private property, owned by the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

Al Rojas, a Kern County code enforcement supervisor said "local jurisdictions have no authority over railroad property."

UPRC told 23ABC News in an emailed statement that “This location has been the subject of clean-up activities in the past, but continues to experience trespassing, unlawful encampments, dumping, graffiti and other illegal activities by third parties despite UP’s efforts.”

Those "efforts"consist of a single documented clean up in 2019, according to UPRC spokesman Tim S. McMahan.

"The last time the area in question was the target of a cleanup was the second week of July 2019," McMahan said.

A single cleanup with no additional follow up is not feasible, according to residents.

"They cleaned everything," Alanda said, but "the same day, people were out here again."

UPRC said that they "welcome engagement by the city and county," and that "this is an issue that will require all parties to work together to help address [it]."

But, Rojas questions this statement.

"Union Pacific has never asked Kern County code compliance to clean up that property," Rojas said, adding that liability and legal issues would prevent them from doing so in the first place.

UPRC said the next schedule clean up is scheduled for sometime in the first quarter of 2020.