A homeless transient sleeps (copy)

In this file photo, a homeless man sleeps on a sidewalk in downtown Bakersfield.

The city of Bakersfield has announced a second possible location for a new 150-bed homeless shelter, sparking a potential fight over the placement of the facility.

The new site, located at 601 Brown St., is three blocks away from the Bakersfield Homeless Center and 1½ miles from Calcot Ltd., the original location proposed by the city.

The city is in the midst of purchasing a property that can be used for emergency beds for homeless individuals. For the past few months, city officials have had a difficult time coming up with a place to put the shelter.

At first, the city said Weill Park north of downtown would be the best spot before a public outcry nixed the option.

Then, the city said it wanted to purchase a 7.2-acre office complex from local cotton cooperative Calcot before another public outcry prompted the City Council to direct officials to find an alternative spot.

After a citywide search, officials have narrowed the list of possible locations to two. The decision will ultimately be made at a council meeting in late January.

Although the city says Calcot could still ultimately be the location of the shelter, the city said on Thursday that the 1.9-acre warehouse site on Brown Street was also under consideration.

After being criticized for shutting out the public during its Calcot proposal, the city will hold two public meetings this month to receive comments on the locations.

The first meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Jerusalem Church, located at 924 Cottonwood Road.

The second meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 16 at MLK Community Center, located at 1000 S. Owens St.

At the last meeting, when the council was on the verge of purchasing the Calcot office complex for $3.8 million, a large crowd of neighbors gathered to protest the sale.

Nearby residents said the shelter — which could eventually hold 450 beds and a police substation — would attract homeless individuals to the area and place nearby churches, schools and businesses at risk.

The Brown Street location threatens to impact the surrounding neighborhood even more than a shelter at Calcot would. Unlike Calcot, which is surrounded by industrial businesses on East Brundage Lane, the warehouse at Brown Street is directly across from houses.

“Brown Street, as a shelter site is very problematic,” said Ward 2 Councilman Andrae Gonzales. “First and foremost, it is right next to a residential community, where many of the homes are owner-occupied. This shelter, in the first conceit of the idea, we were looking for a location that was buffered from sensitive uses, and this Brown Street site doesn’t meet that criteria.”

Ward 2 already contains every other shelter bed in the city, he said, and is adding 80 more in the near future. Nevertheless, Gonzales said he did not want to get into which ward was shouldering the lion’s share of the city’s homeless crisis.

“It’s about how we design the shelter, the quality of services within the shelter, how we run the shelter that really matters the most,” he said.

Both shelters will be designed to limit their impacts on the surrounding area. The city will attempt to enact a “good neighbor policy” in whichever site it places the shelter.

Homeless experts say the city needs more shelter beds because current shelters are frequently filled to capacity. The new shelter will cater to individuals who do not seek entrance at existing facilities because those facilities do not allow people with pets, partners or excessive belongings.

Sam Morgen can be reached at 661-395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @smorgenTBC.

(9) comments

carolair

The Calcot location is clearly the best choice. If the City caves to every disgruntled group nothing will ever get done. There is no absolutely perfect location.

Bibliophile1000

Will the Brown Street location be far enough away from Ron Vietti to appease our local celebrity (gag) pastor? Jesus didn’t say “Shelter the homeless in a place where you and your parishioners don’t have to see them or smell them.”

yorkies2014

have studies shown that mega shelters are more effective than smaller facilities?.... seems like the impact of 150 concentrated homeless beds would be a concern for most folks regardless of the area its located

bakodon

Why not a trial run first...huge unused parking lot just south of the BPD at the tracks...set up portable city with tents, kitchen, sanitary facilities and pet housing and see if any body use it! Maybe we through a million dollar party at CalCot and no one shows up...then what?

Vavoom

Why always the eastside? why not the westside? southside? eastside should not bare the burden for a Community problem

Athanasios

It would be interesting to see the distribution of homeless by area within metro Bakersfield.

RaulMartinez

I agree 100% with Athanasios. Distribute the load. Some on the “good” side are only a paycheck from being homeless. A golf course on the west side may be available soon.

Athanasios

I don’t see why the Calcot location would not be preferred. Industrial area, much larger which allows for more options (integrated services). I would prefer that the city continue to recommend the Calcot location and make the council take an actual vote. Their reasons for not approving the last time were pretty poor....

Mrknowitall

Ok. So this reporter is waaay off base. Free speech?

This story is corrupt. He portrays it like a massive “neighborhood” protest showed up. Fortunately there was a picture published of those in the audience. Perhaps a dozen minorities in attendance. The rest were white folks. There are exactly zero white families living anywhere near Cottonwood and Brundage Lane. Zero. Zip. Nada. So quit it. Where is the objective reporting? Agenda-reeks in the reporting. To spruce it up even sleepier—the article professes worry about nearby schools... what schools? There are not any. Churche. Why would a church be concerned? Couple of Black majority churches nearby, but the main crybaby was Valley Bible. And they are over a MILE and a main intersection away from the site. Businesses? Lol. A recycling joint that is horrible aesthetically speaking—an AM PM—a hamburger stand and a body shop. That’s it! Quit it. So then it’s better on Brown Street?! With actual homes on the street and across from the proposed site?! How nuts is that? But guess what. These cars have no conscience. They figure the savages in that area don’t vote and besides—the congregation members of Valley Bible that flooded the meeting to protest the Brundage site has plenty of voters they covet. So guess what. It won’t matter how many minorities show up and protest Brown Street. The fix is already in. People of Bakersfield: please do not mistake low-income people as less than human. Please do not think of them as savages. You are trying this scam in broad daylight. Everyone sees it. It will backfire on the council politically. Bet on it. People are smarter than you are giving them credit for. Peace on Earth. Goodwill to ALL men.

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