Noisy trucks irk rural neighbors

Noisy trucks irk rural neighbors »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Neighbors in an area south of Bakersfield say a trucking operation has moved in, and they want it stopped. The man with the trucks has applied for a county conditional use permit, and at least one nearby homeowner hopes he won't get it.

"I built this place from nothing, and now all of a sudden, I have to look across the street and see trucks, and listen to them while I'm trying to watch television at night," Joe Fine said. "And in the morning, they wake us up in the morning when they leave."

Eyewitness News heard from several neighbors along Shafter Road, several miles south of Bakersfield. It's a an area east of Highway 99, with large lots, some with horses or cows in pastures.

"We did have a real quiet neighborhood," Fine complained. "And then all of a sudden, they went to moving a trucking operation across the street."

Fine said the big rigs are parked outside the ranch-style house mostly at night. He has photos showing two or three big rig cabs and trailers. He says an "office trailer" was recently added behind the house and its garage facing Shafter Road.

A man who answered the door at that house told Eyewitness News he's "working progressively to keep noise down." He also said he would do anything to reduce nuisances for the neighbors.

The man with the trucks said he'd had them at the Shafter Road location for six to eight months. Fine thinks it's been closer to a year, and neighbors have been complaining to county officials.

"I called (Kern County ) Code Compliance," Fine said. "And another neighbor called Code Compliance." Eyewitness News also contacted that county office on Monday, and was told the man with the trucks had taken out papers for a Kern County conditional use permit on March 18. The man at the house said that date "sounded about right."

The county Planning Department handles C.U.P. requests. It's required, if a use is not allowed under a property's zoning.

"The primary document that lays all this out is the zoning ordinance," planning department spokesman Craig Murphy explained. "If you just look in your district, it has a series of lists. These are the permitted uses, and these are the things that require a conditional use permit."

Murphy says when an application comes in, the planning department reviews it, and decides if environmental documents need to be prepared. The department also schedules a public hearing before the Kern County Planning Commission.

He said all properties within 1,000 feet of the affected location will be sent notices about the public hearing, and neighbors can make comments at the meeting. A decision on whether to issue the C.U.P. is made by the planning commission, and it can be appealed by either side to the Kern County Board of Supervisors.

Fine thinks there's plenty to dispute. He says another neighbor has a day care center near the trucks. "She said she can't even let the kids play outside," Fine described. "They let the trucks sit over there and idle, and the diesel fumes get so bad she has to take the kids in the house from that."

The man with the trucks counters that there are other industrial and agricultural uses in the area.

Fine says there are about a half dozen homes near the truck operation, and he predicts neighbors will speak up at the public hearing on the conditional use permit. "If we get a say in it," he says. "I'm sure all of our neighbors are going to go down to that hearing."