By Brian N. Willhite
Senior Staff Writer
Mayor Harvey Hall spoke with CSUB staff, faculty and students on May 16 for the Brown Bag Luncheon discussion in the Stockdale Room inside the Runner Cafe.
Hall outlined many of the current issues the city is involved with and how he is looking forward to continuing the city’s efforts to support programs like the Keep Bakersfield Beautiful litter clean-up campaign and the homeless to work initiative in conjunction with the Bakersfield Homeless Center.
The city recently approved the plan to work with homeless persons at the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter to pay them minimum wage to clean up litter along the highways five days a week, according to Hall.
These are regular residents of the Bakersfield homeless center but now they are going to have full-time employment, being paid minimum wage … but we’re hopeful, that after they get some paydays, they’ll be able to remove themselves from the homeless center and comply with our housing first ten-year plan and be able to secure housing for them,” Hall said.
Hall discussed with attendees that he adopted a 10-year plan to end homelessness in Bakersfield and that he is proud to report the city has reached its fifth year of the plan and that they have made a lot of progress. He also stressed the importance of community support in making the second half of the city’s goals successful.
He added that each day there are about 1,500 people that are homeless in Bakersfield.
“As we get more sponsorships we’re going to be able to take on more of the homeless individuals to help us with the litter pick up program,” Hall said, applauded by those in attendance.
CSUB student Stephanie Perez applauded the city’s effort to employ the homeless and said that she would like to volunteer in one of the city’s clean-up events, too.
“I didn’t know there was a program that employed homeless people and I think that’s really great because that will help them get off the streets and earn money to help them get on their feet. I think that’s really amazing,” Perez said.
Keeping Bakersfield litter-free was another key item on the agenda. He discussed how Bakersfield fails in comparison to other cities he has visited and is determined to make the city’s highways not only litter-free but attractive, too.
Hall has been working with Cal-Trans for the opportunity to have volunteers work along Highway 178 and Highway 58 to pick up trash, as well as trustees from the Sheriff’s department to clean up the medians, which volunteers are not allowed to do. Kern County probationary recipients will be utilized to clean up and service the vegetation areas along the highways, too, according to Hall.
“We’ve got to develop the mentality of community pride,” Hall said about Bakersfield residents taking personal control of the litter problem.
Freshman Angel Calderon was impressed with how Hall is determined to improve the beautification of the city, agreeing that the city’s litter is an issue.
“I think that the topic that was most interesting was about the litter. I Actually think there is too much trash, not only on the freeways but also on some of the streets in the city,” Calderon said. “I think [the clean-up programs] will help a lot of people and will give a clear image of the efforts the city is doing to make the city beautiful.”
In addition, Hall discussed the city’s traffic issues, especially the ongoing construction on the roadways, citing that the city’s population is at nearly a half a million people and that Bakersfield needs to expand its roads in order to serve its driver. He urged many to consider the use of bicycles or public transportation, too.
Traffic signals were another point of discussion, particularly those with cameras, which Hall said add to the city’s revenue though he would prefer people drive safer. He added that the Stockdale and California Avenue intersection is the most popular, generating nearly 400 tickets since the beginning of the year.
After Hall’s presentation, CSUB President Horace Mitchell addressed the audience and applauded Hall for his contributions and support to the university through the years.
“He has been a supporter of the university, personally and financially, and he has been helpful to us in our fundraising,” Mitchell said, noting that Hall was instrumental in helping CSUB transition into a Division I university.
Hall is the 25th mayor to serve Bakersfield and is now entering his fourth consecutive term, which will make him the longest serving mayor in Bakersfield’s history. He discussed that people are always asking him how he feels about being the mayor, he replied by saying that “the mayor’s life is fun and enjoyable,” and that “it’s the best job in America.”