Neighbors complain about impacts from trucking operation

Neighbors complain about impacts from trucking operation
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Neighbors complain a trucking company disrupts their area with noise, smells and traffic.

It's an area near Hughes Road and McKee, and the company says they were there first, and they're not breaking any rules.

"It's across the street, but it's only 20 feet from our house to the wall, and then another 20 feet to where the trucks actually drive back and forth," Wayne Miles told Eyewitness News Thursday. On Wednesday night, he took a petition with 65 neighbor signatures to the Bakersfield City Council.

"We sort of got used to the day time," Miles says. "But it's all night now." He thinks GIC Transport has increased the number of big rigs that rumble past their homes just off McKee, and believes there's more of it at night and early morning hours.

"It's just loud noise, and a lot of dust kicking up through all hours of the night," neighbor Ricardo Becerra agrees. He also thinks it's increased in the last few months. He doesn't remember the nuisance before, and he's lived in the neighborhood since 2009.

Miles worries about dust, noise and traffic, and also what's hauled in the trucks. He says he found paperwork that blew off one truck which indicates it was transporting "bio-solids."

"Oh yes, you can smell it," Miles said. He believes the sewage sludge is trucked from the Los Angeles area to near Taft.

Eyewitness News went to the trucking company office, and Gabriel Cruz identified himself as the owner. He confirmed the trucks do haul bio-solids, and things like cattle feed and soil amendments. Cruz said the trucks are washed out after they unload, and before they return to be parked at the site on McKee.

But, neighbors also complain there's diesel fumes, damage to the road, and just a lot of extra traffic on the roads. Cruz told Eyewitness News there's no more disruption to traffic than any other business might cause.

He also insists the trucking operation was in their McKee Road location before there were many houses nearby.

Attorney Bill Slocumb issued a statement on behalf of GIC Transport late Thursday afternoon. It notes GIC bought the site in 1999, and the trucking business "opened in earnest" in 2002. He says at that time there were few houses, more homes got built later.

Associate Bakersfield City Attorney Richard Iger says they've found the same. He also says the truck company location has been annexed into the city, but it was first in Kern County jurisdiction.

"We've been watching them for our (municipal) code, as well as some rights they have under the county precise development plan that they were given," Iger told Eyewitness News. He said the city is sticking with the rules that existed under the county.

Those rules say the company can have no more than 18 trucks at a time at the McKee site, all trucks must unload before parking there, and they must park on paved areas only.

"They're complying with the law," Iger said. Though, he notes city code enforcement had worked with the company on meeting the requirement to park on paved areas.

When asked, Iger said the company does not face any restrictions on their hours of operations. "Not for this type of business," he said. "If it was refrigerated trucks, they couldn't run them over night."

Neighbors are frustrated by the impacts.

"They've turned McKee into a truck route," Wayne Miles says. He argues neighbors didn't expect that when they moved in. "Now the neighborhood has to suffer," he says.

But, the company attorney says GIC has created a lot jobs, and trucks and equipment are bought locally. He says the company wants to be a good neighbor.

"Any reasonable accommodation GIC can make without excessive expense will be considered," Slocumb wrote in the statement. "GIC is however unwilling to go out of business to accommodate its new neighbors who failed to fully explore the neighborhood they chose to move into."

So, what can be done to resolve the situation?

"What they really need to do, everyone involved, is find a way that they can co-exist," Richard Iger suggests. "Until, or if, (the trucking company) ever moves."