Local News

Wednesday, Jan 15 2014 04:06 PM

'First Look': Watch, listen to special forum on panhandling

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Panhandling and loitering have been consistent problems for owners of the Lucky Seven Food Store, located south and directly across the boarding area of the GET station on Chester Avenue. This photo was taken in January 2014.

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The topic of panhandling is getting a lot of attention in Bakersfield lately. Spurred by a letter to the editor that appeared in The Californian in December, a group of downtown business owners has taken its concerns about "aggressive panhandling" and its effect on local businesses and the public to the city council.

What can be done?

Bakersfield isn't the first city to grapple with this problem. Visalia, for example, recently passed an ordinance making it illegal to panhandle on private property. Bakersfield business owners are asking the city council to take similar action.

But there are still a lot of questions to be answered and issues to address, perhaps the biggest being if panhandling is a legal issue or a social issue.

This Friday "First Look with Scott Cox" will feature a roundtable of guests involved in this issue. From 8 to 10 a.m. we'll have an open discussion on the topic, and take calls with your questions and comments.

Friday's line-up includes:

* Bob Bell, chairman of the Downtown Bakersfield Development Corp.

* Ward 2 City Councilman Terry Maxwell.

* Louis Gill, CEO of the Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

* Lizz Rodriguez, the local mom whose letter to the editor about her son who panhandles sparked community response.

* Tracy Robertshaw, code enforcement manager for the city of Visalia, about their city ordinance and how it will be enforced.

* Theo Douglas, Californian city government reporter.

Watch "First Look with Scott Cox" live on Bakersfield.com or listen on 1180 AM KERN radio. If you have a question or comment, call 842-KERN.

-- Jamie Butow, community engagement coordinator

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