Local News

Tuesday, Oct 29 2013 05:18 PM

Kern deputies start ticketing litterbugs

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Duane Miller picks up trash in Bakersfield with an entire crew from the Bakersfield Homeless Center in this June file photo. This trash pick-up effort is a collaboration between Caltrans, the City of Bakersfield, the Homeless Center and the Kern Council of Governments.

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BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

Throw a paper coffee cup out of the car window, or haul an uncovered load of trash out to the landfill -- and get a ticket back.

That's the message from Kern County Sheriff's Office deputies, who began working overtime last week issuing citations to litterbug motorists, reportedly focusing on trash haulers, and an area of eastbound Highway 58 near the Bena Landfill.

Approximately seven deputies at a time will be on freeway litter patrol countywide. The amount of the tickets was unavailable Tuesday.

The overtime, around 20 hours a week, is being funded by a one-time, one-year $100,000 grant from the Kern Council of Governments for "special enforcement of litter and debris regulations."

The Kern County Board of Supervisors approved it in a one-year agreement with the agency Oct. 8, retroactive to Sept. 19.

But it's just the latest salvo in Bakersfield's ongoing war on trash, paid for in part by two additional one-time Kern COG grants of $100,000 each.

The second grant funds the recent return of five seven- to eight-person crews of county inmates to picking up highway trash. The third grant has helped pay Bakersfield Homeless Center crews since May to do the same.

Where did Kern COG get $300,000? The agency also acts as the Kern Motorist Aid Authority, collecting $1 per vehicle registered in the county to maintain call boxes.

According to Kern COG Executive Director Ahron Hakimi, if the agency collects more than it spends, the extra money may be used for safety-related projects.

"The help with that funding was huge for us. Their contribution has been integral to the process," said Assistant to the City Manager Rhonda Smiley. "We were long overdue to have something like that done. We really feel like we're starting to make some significant strides."

This is definitely not a good time to be a used mattress; a neighborhood trash clean-up Saturday in Ward 2, hosted by Garden Pathways in partnership with Flood Ministries and Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, netted more than 50 used mattresses and other large items like sofas.
Excess trash is just one of the 34th Street/Homaker Park neighborhood's issues, organizers said.
"The little twist on this one is that it's broader than beautifying the neighborhood. It's beautifying the insides of people and changing the futures of their neighborhoods," said Karen Goh, president and CEO of Garden Pathways, explaining the nonprofit's mission of mentoring and educating children, adults and families.
Bakersfield Memorial/Dignity Health, I.F.G. Services, and Gregg Gunner and Gregg's Pharmacy have donated more than $52,000 in an effort to transform the area by funding community services including employment preparation, training in life skills, family support services and clean-ups. But the trash-hauling won't stop, Goh said.
Residents and Garden Pathways will continue to remove trash from the neighborhood four days a week, she said, and the city's Solid Waste Division will provide weekly curbside pickup of large items.

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