20190406-bc-homeless (copy)

In this file photo, a homeless man who identified himself as God's son hangs out in a alley of Baker Street with his friend, Michelle Gates. The two have been good friends for over five years.

The future of a new homeless shelter in Bakersfield is uncertain after the City Council voted to delay the purchase of a property that could have serves as the location.

While council members said they needed more time to consider buying an office complex at 1900 E. Brundage Lane that could have provided beds for up to 450 homeless individuals, the nearly three month delay will temporarily stifle attempts to get the homeless off of the streets of Bakersfield, where they have been overwhelming local service providers for more than a year.

“The City Council is letting Bakersfield burn with the homeless crisis,” said Jim Wheeler, executive director of Flood Ministries, a street outreach organization. “If you want to deal with that problem right now, then you have to have a solution right now. You can’t put it off for three months. Who knows what’s going to happen in three months? There’s no guarantee that three months from now, that everybody is going to be satisfied and they will be able to move forward.”

The Bakersfield City Manager’s Office had strongly endorsed the Brundage Lane property, which served as the headquarters for Calcot Limited, a grower-owned cotton cooperative. The city claimed at Wednesday’s council meeting that the facility was buffered from residential areas by several blocks of industrial businesses, and the impact on the surrounding area would be minimal.

Assistant City Manager Jacqui Kitchen said at the meeting that passersby may not even know the site was a homeless shelter.

But several members of the surrounding communities attended the meeting to voice their opposition, speaking in public comments that lasted for hours. Concerns over break-ins and safety were brought up. Valley Bible Fellowship, a church about a mile away from the proposed site, said the shelter would hurt nearby residents.

And most council members seemed to be caught off guard by the city manager’s proposal, even though they had authorized the office to bring them a purchase agreement for a homeless shelter site in September, saying at the time they wanted it within 30 days.

“I’m feeling a bit disappointed that we are not moving forward to address the number one issue facing all of Bakersfield,” Councilman Andrae Gonzales said on Thursday. “We know that there’s a demand for additional shelter beds and the city must respond.”

He said his ward is on pace to hold 600 shelter beds in the near future, but more were needed elsewhere in the city to deal with the crisis.

Steps forward, however, may not be very simple. The council directed the City Manager’s Office to return on Jan. 22 with a laundry list of requests, including a cost/benefit analysis of the Calcot site and another in Old Town Kern the city once considered, along with searching the city for another potential location.

Once the council reconvenes in January to make a potential choice, it will likely take five or six months to construct the facility, according to previous projections.

But some council members said the city needed the extra time to make the choice.

“Last night revealed we didn’t have all the information, we didn’t do as exhaustive of a search as we could have done, we certainly didn’t include the public and the community in that process,” said Councilman Willie Rivera, who represents the ward of the proposed site. “We should get that right before we commit ourselves to millions and millions of dollars in investments.”

Rivera was one of the most vocal opponents of the city’s proposal at Wednesday’s meeting. On Thursday he said that he had only received positive feedback following the meeting.

“People who live in southeast Bakersfield felt like they weren’t a part of this conversation, they weren’t included in this conversation, and they wanted to be,” he added. “The action we took last night is an action to make that right, to correct that, moving forward.”

With the council’s decision, there is no timeline for a completion of the city’s shelter. Kern County, which has already received approval from the Board of Supervisors, expects to complete its own homeless shelter near downtown Bakersfield in January.

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

(22) comments


I apologize and stand corrected. I stated nobody in the area of the proposed homeless project would care or even know where the meetings are held. I took a long look at the picture of the folks attending. A full house. There were a smattering of People of Color in attendance. God Bless them. Obviously more informed than I was. Still, that perhaps dozen that showed up were dwarfed by the White Gills in attendance. They sure as shoot in’ don’t reside in that area. That’s an undisputed fact. So... WHAT were THEY doing there? I Ain’t buying that just “concerned citizens” garbage either.

Makes my heart glad that good folks still reside in that area... there sure weren’t very many when I went to school at Colonel Baker on CottonWood Road back in da day. Longb & Prosper and May The Lord Bless you.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

You derived all of that through one picture? Wow- you should become an FBI profiler...


Well he or she is all knowing so it does stand to reason he or she is all seeing as well. 😉


A picture tells a thousand stories, or haven’t you seen a Trump White House photo op? All White men. Uh. Yeah. Smart people can derive a lot from one picture. Brilliant folks, like myself merely need the negative.

But what you did NOT comment upon was the SUBSTANCE of my post. What were all the white faces doing at a meeting focusing on a property located in a 98% minority neighborhood? Cat got yer tongues? Thought so. WE know. Racist? I don’t make the news, I merely comment upon it. I drove by the site... then drove at least a mile having to cross a major intersection that further separates the project from the area further East that finally comes upon the pious Valley Bible Church). One cannot even SEE the project from VBIble. Even Superman’s super-vision can’t see it from that loooong distance. But yet VB had “concerns”. Yeah. The concern is that needy folks might knock on the church door and seek assistance. That’s it. Period. But VBible wasn’t having that. Not at their mansion. So it appears they rounded up the troops (congregation die-hards) and jumped into a neighborhood issue NOT in their neighborhood. Lol. And the Council jumped like Michael Jordan.

So you see my children, it doesn’t take a genuine FBI profiler to figure out this rotten 2-piece puzzle. Ya just need me, as surrogate Daddy to pint y’all in the right direction. I consider it my civic duty. No charge.

She Dee

Ya know, Mr Knowitall, it's like the old fable when the kid ran through the streets yelling "the sky is falling the sky is falling" & it was probably just rain that turned into a hail storm at the time they wrote it. In todays world, it would most likely be satellite debris or a plane that explored that would fall from our skies, right? We can lead that horse to water, but if that horse refuses to drink...what do we do?/??/? I never think about race because I rarely notice it. I see this as a BIAS ISSUE. PERIOD.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

There was no substance in your prior post, only racist remarks, so I saw no reason to ridicule your statement- you've already done all the heavy lifting for me...

She Dee

OH MY!...I just realized it might also be a gentrification issue too! No one wants well trained Police Dogs sniffing around the holy grounds of a Mega Church!


Gee, you’re not racist at all, are you?


' " . . . number one issue facing all of Bakersfield,” Councilman Andrae Gonzales'. . . WHAT . . . ?

Ah . . . the 'good life' . . . no responsibilities, three hots, a roof & a cot (with latrine) only let the city provide your 'chosen lifestyle' amelioratives for you.

Whatever happened to 'personal responsibility' . . . for those not hindered by physical, emotional or 'mental' disabilities . . . to chip in their efforts to 'go to cover'. In the military, we re-learned whatever 'personal responsibility training' (leadership) was mishandled or missing in childhood (family).

Does that give you a BIG clue about issues like this (and substance abuse) that have escalated ever since . . . 'THE DRAFT' ended . . . !


Personnel responsibly Tell that to those we voted into office. True we have to take responsibility. Putting it in the hands of other 's has made us dependent that only seek to profit off our lives'. we are losing our freedom and rights to those who exploit our lives for their own personnel gain. We have created a society that has made us more dependent, than Independent. It's funny how we now have to see ourselves as a product and compete to sell ourselves to be a servant. to the Wealthy Private Corporations for a job. to pay for our right to live in this world. Cause its frowned upon to live freely. in a country we celebrate Freedom. Yet is a pay as you go society. Its sad to see some of our Vets come home to find the real enemy trying to push Nationalism under the disguise of Patriotism. Seeing our leader spew out the same hate and scare tactic Hitler used to rouse his followers in his movement. Charlie Chaplin once said, I'm not a Super Patriot. Super Patriotism is al lot like Hitlerism. And we all know that got them.


Worried about people defecating in the streets?

Pretty sure a homeless shelter will have facilities for that.

One can even have showers too, so I've heard.

Many European cities have public restrooms.

Even Washington DC has public restrooms in good working order.

The parks department cleans them daily.

Maybe the churches should start spending money on local issues or lose their freeloader tax exemption?

She Dee

The more stories I read about this shelter is leading me to believe that this is some kind of a TURF WAR led by the Pastor of the Mega Church. He said he was worried about the homeless defacating. He needs to get out on the streets more to see the ral needs of the community. Separation of Church & State should reain in place & the City Council does not need to invite him or any other Church leaders into the issues at hand. It should be left to the TAXPAYERS in my opinion. Spent the $ where it needs to be spent....on the people...ALL OF THE PEOPLE. Stop vilifying the homeless. I am no longer living in the streets & I fell like most of the people have no idea what it's like. When we need a hand up & all we get is a slap down. The 2 people in the photo are humans. They are as happy to be where they are as they can possibly be because they are SURVIVING in the best way they can. Let's start providing some safe options for people who want & need a hand up without forcing them to pray for a meal.


OMG. I wasn’t paying attention very closely. AHA!

So THAT’s why the meeting drew such a crowd! Hmmm. It was likely loaded with Valley Bible Church members. Now all the insanity makes perfect sense. I know for a fact NObody within 1,000 yards of the proposed sight cared enough to attend a CC meeting. They likely don’t even know where the meetings are held. Lol. So that leaves the Sierra salvage owner dude and his henchmen and...wait for it... Valley Bible’s contingent. Why didn’t BCalufornian reporter interview a sampling of the supposedly “concerned citizens” in attendance. Could it be because they did not represent a cross-section of our community or residents of that God-forsaken area?

If interviewed is it likely it would have revealed the attendees were church members drummed up to rally against the much-needed Homeless Project? So that would make sense: Council Members who ordinarily wouldn’t and haven’t given two anything’s for that wasteland and it’s inhabitants now magically cannot vote in good conscience to relieve the misery of the lost and downtrodden. No. Oh no. This issue needs to be resolved-visited they “wisely” determined once they saw the large group of John Q citizens that reside not in the area under discussion, but in TZhEIR districts. It appears they smelled voters. That Explains everything. I smelled something else. Pungent. Gnarly. Rancid. Shame on them.

Hadn’t any of them heard, “Peace on Earth. Good Will Toward All Men”?

She Dee

Mr knowitall- te one thing I learned when I was growing up was that anyone who goes against the wishes of the church usually becomes to topic of the Sunday sermons! I wonder if it's about the money (tithings) or the power of control to keep an area free of the people who might attend their church, yet never put a penny in their collection box. Yet, when they have a "feed" for the needy, they often require them to sign in & give their social security number so they can recoup their losses come tax time. Dirty little secret of the helping hand agencies. The churches can't have it all.


So Willie Rivera says legwork was not comprehensive and area residents weren’t given an opportunity to register their input. Ummm. OK. Why didn’t RIVERA make sure those two items were executed BEFORE the meeting? Everyone and their bow-legged cousins knew this issue was imminent and City Council had insisted the remedy be expedited. So this meeting was no great surprise. But Willie loses his mind and bullies folks into believing it’s now a 5-alarm Fire. Lol. He’s the one who did NOT do his job. He never impressed me. Jackie Sullivan is almost 100 years old and may not even be aware what building she was in. Andre G was sharp. Other than that it was the-not-ready-for-prime-time-Council as usual.

I noticed Valley Bible was described in this article as not wanting the residents of the area to be negatively impacted. What a joke. Self-interest was obvious.

Oh—BTW, just for the record, The Truth is a complete defense —for all y’all out there trying to stifle free speech. How’d ya like dem apples?

Miss Milis

To be fair, Ms. Sullivan was absent this particular meeting so she did not vote aye or nay.


Send all the homeless to VBF and the Saco junk yard. Let these know it alls fix the problem


what a difference a year makes...


That discovery, along with a desire to present a consistent message to companies considering doing more business in Kern, prompted what organizers call an "unprecedented collaboration" among the City of Bakersfield, the County of Kern, the Kern Economic Development Corp., the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce and 15 private-sector partners.

Together the parties pitched in close to $200,000 to hire Nashville, Tenn.-based North Star Destination Strategies to conduct research, come up with a rebranding strategy and develop advertising-ready materials over a period of nearly two years.


I know its BakoPatch... but there must be a workable solution for helping these folks out and in turn making it a better place for everyone to live....


Michelle Gates and friend laying around against building ( pictured) can learn about construction first hand. Full 8 hours/ day, 5 days a week. Have electricians, floorers, painters, every trade use " homeless " as journeymen.

This wouldn't be about saving money this would be about respecting the place you lay your head.

Barn raising time.

All Star

How much are they going to get paid? What happens if they get injured while working?

She Dee

I have to disagree with this philosophy. It takes many months for a person to get back to a "normal" routine. PTSD is a side dish of living in the streets. Most cannot just go to work like the rest of you who sleep in a bed & have a place to shower & cook your own food. Also, a person in the trades must start off as an apprentice & pass a test if they want to join the union & move up. A person needs proper shoes to work on those jobs. Most can barely walk due to having foot fungus.

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