Dozens of downtown business owners met Tuesday morning to talk about how to deal with what they say is a growing wave of petty crime, vandalism, drug use and vagrancy plaguing the city's central district.

They purposely did not invite the Bakersfield Police Department.

"I don't think it's because they don't want to help. They just can't," said Dixie Brewer, owner of In Your Wildest Dreams consignment store.

Brewer's shop at 19th and Q streets has been beset with incidents of theft, malicious destruction of property and more. But she is hardly alone.

The stories shared by several at the meeting included everything from aggressive panhandling and broken windows to physical confrontations, human feces left on city sidewalks and drug users masturbating in public.

Many at the meeting said they support the department and local officers, but they have finally concluded that the BPD has neither the resources to help nor the legal backing or infrastructure to take effective action.

Prison reform passed in California "pulled the teeth of police," said Marvin Fuller Jr., president of the alarm division of M&S Security Services, which has an office on L Street.

"I understand their response time isn't very good," Fuller said as a voice from the back piped up, "That's an understatement."

Mike McCoy, the executive director of Kern County Museum on Chester Avenue, said vagrants and street people getting onto the museum's property has become a "daily problem."

"We made four 911 phone calls. No response. Zero," McCoy said.

"They finally came out at 8 o'clock at night for a call at 9 in the morning."

Brewer said she had a man in her shop for four hours with four female employees. He wouldn't leave. He was sexually explicit, she said, but not violent.

Eventually someone came to help. But he wasn't a police officer.

"Officers gave me their cell numbers," Brewer said. "I do call. They do not answer."

Some said they're worried someone will eventually get injured or killed.

But Melanie Farmer, president of the Downtown Business Association, which hosted the meeting, said the DBA's Block to Block program is designed to give area business owners more control over what happens around their businesses.

Unveiled in February, the idea is aimed at coordinating communication on safety and other challenges facing downtown Bakersfield. "Block captains" are supposed to gather updates from fellow business and property owners, then report them at area-wide forums where problems can be addressed at a higher level.

But at Tuesday's meeting, business owners seemed ready to take a more aggressive step by hiring security guards. It's clear the frustration level is reaching a boiling point.

"If I took off my clothes in the middle of the street, I think I would be arrested," said James Banks, who has a State Farm Insurance office at 18th and Eye streets. But for some reason, he said, police don't seem to want to deal with it if the person is homeless or mentally ill.

Bakersfield Police have previously said they work to prioritize calls, and believe funds from Measure N will help, including with police staffing.

As the meeting broke up, a show of hands indicated that most of those who attended felt the meeting was productive.

But there was also a sense that the many are at the end of their rope — and their patience is wearing thin.

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(26) comments

ReefRanger

Perhaps, instead of spending a few million buying and remodeling an old restaurant into the new police academy, the city could have spent that money buying the years-defunct East Hills Mall and remodeling it into a facility to assist the homeless.

Copper

Until the police are allowed to pick up the mentally ill off the streets and have a place to put them for treatment and placed in long term board and care this will continue to be a problem. Fix the 5150 laws and build treatment and housing facilities. Everything else is just wasted breathe.

REMUDA

THIS . . . Sounds like a plan that's a 'Work In Progress' . . . !

Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.

https://www.bakersfieldchamber.org/

GOVERNMENTAL REVIEW COUNCIL

7:30 TO 8:30 A.M. EVERY FRIDAY

"The Governmental Review Council (GRC) represents the interests of business at the local, state and federal levels. GRC identifies, analyzes and monitors issues impacting business and recommends policy position to the Chamber board of directors."

STAFF CONTACT:

Kaelyn De Leon, kdeleon@bakersfieldchamber.org



So . . . how's it done . . .?

GET INVOLVED >> Group up 'en masse' at GBCC and Bako Council meets with "Public input--Solutions WITHOUT $$'s!" on non-agenda items" . . . !

'Sweep the streets' with random (neighborhood watch) ESCORTED 'Civilian Scouts' and gentle firmness 'handouts' >>> the vagrancy ordinance!

Be legal, swift and sure . . . !

REMUDA

BTW . . .

https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/smile-youre-on-my-cell-phone-camera-phones-and-privacy

https://corporate.findlaw.com/litigation-disputes/practitioner-s-guide-to-california-right-of-publicity-law.html

https://www.aclusocal.org/en/photographers-rights

https://www.clickinmoms.com/blog/street-photography-and-the-law-7-things-you-need-to-know/

https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/civil-code/civ-sect-3344.html

clsoca

Unfortunately, we as a city have not hit bottom yet in regard to homelessness, drug addicts and petty crime. It's gonna have to get a lot worse before we the citizens unite and demand actions from our city leaders. We can look to Stockton about ten years ago when they finally hit bottom.

mrdwm1

Maybe the Esteemed Citizen's Committee that is trying to figure out how to spend all those new tax $$$ that Mayor Airhead and Manager Tubby insisted we just had to have, will throw some pennies at the issue.

She Dee

What did the DBA expect when they did things to attract more bars into the area? It was a problem for business owners in the 80's too...but most of those people have moved on or passed on. So the Downtown is just the same as it ever was. Get insurance or move if you can't deal with reality. Downtown (in my opinion) was a far better place when the buildings were empty & the hotels were run down & filled with happy occupants.

ontou

The last time I went shopping at House of Talulahs at F st and 19th st and there were girls in there trying to shop lift and a getaway truck parked right outside of the front door. I worry for the safety of the women who work in there often times they are in there alone.

Boris25

Why are all of you complaining? The "new increase" in the sales taxes will soon solve all of these problems, just wait and see! (If you can't recognize sarcasm, this is an example)

Fightingsideofme

We need a count in numbers of the homeless, if they are citizens or not, veterans or not, have mental issues or not, have drug issues or not, some people fell on hard times then had to live on the streets and others got there in a different way. You need a homeless task force to go out and get to the bottom of this mess, if they are here illegally send them back to their mother land, simple as that.

Airdog44

The Downtown Budiness Assoc. needs to Hire security to patrol their businesses at night. The police just cannot be everywhere. Time to fork out some money and hire security just like other businesses do!

Abby

The police can’t be everywhere, that’s true. But even when they are there it seems little happens to the perpetrators.

RICHARDFITZWELL

Blame the system for that. Misdemeanors are either cited and released at the scene or atbte jail 8-12 hours later. They are given a court date 30 days out to which they never show up for. A warrant is issued and it sits until they are contacted again or it expires in 7 years. If they are contacted, they once again are cited at the scene or at the jail, and given another court date 30 days out. It’s a vicious cycle where nothing gets done.

WorkingHardToPay4YourObamaphone

The parents of these criminals didn't believe in spanking.

jimnjoy

I don't think one dime should be allocated for illegal immigrant's when the needs of people who are already here are not being met.

Abby

Amen!

Stephen

There are a whole class of people who can behave with a complete lack of responsibility and self discipline and, by default, it's OK.

Accepting that behavior for what ever reason or excuse, won't make their lives better but it sure will make life worse for those who contribute to society and our quality of life.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

#TruthBomb

Walliford

Prop. 47 made petty theft a viable occupation; it also freed drug users to get high without consequences. AB109 flooded county jails with state inmates causing the early release of county inmates. The result? More crime. Democrat legislation has liberated low-level criminals from arrest. Police will not respond to petty crimes because all they can do is write a citation and let the offender go.



President Trump states Democrats are the party of crime and in California that is true.

Abby

Agreed!

Gene Pool Chlorinator

Excellent point. I have a number of LEO friends and many of them have told me they've heard from perps detained for petty theft that they aren't concerned about stealing because in California, they'll be back out on the street (same day) as a result of Prop 47... We truly have a revolving door of criminality in this state...

She Dee

Walliford, do you know why that law was reduced? Because too many people who caught stealing the NECESSITIES of LIFE...food! It was too costly to put a parent in jail & put their children into the foster care system for committing what is now a petty crime. Once upon a time we did not have WIC or FOOD STAMP CARDS. We had to stand in long lines to get free government food commoddities & it never included infant formula or special diet foods. It was a bag of rice, beans, bulgar, powdered milk, canned juices & if we got lucky there would be a brick of Velveeta Cheese, a bag of dry macaroni & the occasional jar of peanut butter....oh yes & the lard. That made it all so digestible Oh yes, I forgot the can of cooked deboned chicken & canned scrambled eggs. It was never enough food for the month. Just a few weeks...so we had to steal or beg on street corners..

BanditIvy

Sometimes my home alarm goes off and I realize I screwed up. Last time it went off I was at Edward's theater. Based upon what my alarm company said, I thought my home was being burglarized so I said send the police. I live in Rosedale. Took me 12 minutes to get home. Police never showed up. Luckily it was a dumb mistake again, but 12 minutes and no cops????

RICHARDFITZWELL

Calls for service are prioritized. Property crimes are second to person crimes. You must take in to account that you are not the only one calling, and that they are probably dealing with a tragedy elsewhere that ties them up for awhile. When bad things happen, that means they are tied up on that scene and there isn’t anyone available to handle other calls for service. You just have to wait your turn. As far as not showing up, it’s possible the Alarm company cancelled the call once you entered the code. The call goes away if the company cancels it, so no one will show up. Just food for thought.

JR

The city officials should be held responsible for this lack of support for our local businesses, and residents. Those who are elected and appointed the only answer to solving this problem. No one else can make policies and laws and redirect or increase funding to help businesses and residents stay safe in this city. Soon, downtown will be a ghost town and that will be a blight on Bakersfield, a lost tax opportunity, and a danger to residents throughout the town.

ddhinds

Absolutely true. The City fathers need to step up and find some solution to this horrible situation. If not, the downtown will die a complete death and the loss of revenue will be felt by the City. Crazy to allow this to go on without make some sort of effort to stop it.

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