By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
The issue of aggressive panhandling in the downtown area -- specifically near businesses -- was a topic brought to the Bakersfield Downtown Business Association many times. After creating a proposal to take to the Bakersfield City Council, the council voted to ban aggressive panhandling earlier this month.
The council's ordinance making "aggressive solicitation" a misdemeanor or an infraction goes into effect in May.
"It's an issue that affects downtown and it's one of our recent success stories," said Kevin Bartl, chairman of the DBA and part of the Bakersfield Condors, Tuesday on "First Look with Scott Cox."
Bartl said many concerned citizens shared stories about being followed by panhandlers to their cars in parking lots and the panhandlers wouldn't take no for answer.
"If you frequent these businesses, you'll see the same people (panhandlers) week after week," he said.
Bartl, who has been on the DBA board of directors for three years, said finding solutions to issues like panhandling is an example of what the DBA does.
The DBA serves as advocate and promoter of downtown businesses and economic interests.
Recently, the association has been putting together a monthly "Empowerment Breakfast" with guest speakers such as State Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, or Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford.
Richard Beene, president and CEO of the Californian, asked Bartl what he thought of the Security Trust building in downtown Bakersfield that has everyone talking because of what's behind the plaster.
"It's a great building, and I can't help but wonder what else is out there," Bartl said.
Stucco is being stripped away from the building, uncovering tall concrete columns and architectural details.
"The historical architecture is a part of the fabric and character of a city," he said.
As for the Bakersfield Condors, Bartl reminded everyone to attend Tuesday night's playoff game. Free rally towels will be given at the game.