Railroad responds to worries about homeless camps

Railroad responds to worries about homeless camps »Play Video
Trash from homeless people is seen Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, near railroad tracks in the area of H Street and Golden State Avenue in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo)
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - One day after a Bakersfield man complained about homeless encampments next to the tracks by his business, a Union Pacific worker came by to clear out some of the problem. The area is north of Golden State Avenue near H Street, and the railroad worker told one homeless person to leave, he removed some tarps, and said the spot would get more of their attention.

Steven Phipps' was grateful. "The railroad police were out here today," he told Eyewitness News Friday morning. "They chased out one of the transients, took down the encampment, and cleaned up a bit, and gave him a ticket."

Phipps has been concerned about bizarre behavior by some people, and worried about break-ins in the area. He's frustrated by the amount of trash, shopping carts and even furniture left along the tracks and a dirt path that runs next to his fence.

On Thursday, Phipps and a reporter also found a syringe left in the dirt. Eyewitness News called Union Pacific, and a spokesman in Sacramento said they'd look into the situation and Phipps' concerns.

Phipps said he'd talked to a railroad worker on Wednesday, and didn't think much would be done about the problems. He got a different response by Friday from the U.P. employee. "Though they're stretched really thin, he really does want to seem to make an effort to help clean up." Phipps said.

He said the railroad also indicated they would try to fix a gate at the end of H Street that opens up to the tracks.

The problems do continue. On Friday morning there were two more abandoned shopping carts nearby that hadn't been there the day before.

Eyewitness News also contacted a local group that works with the homeless, and a spokeswoman said they'd try to send an outreach worker to the area to contact anyone they could find. A spokesman with the Homeless Collaborative of Kern County also said that group would be happy to work with Phipps.

The businessman is grateful for that offer, too. "If they can help us in way -- help these (homeless) people in any way -- that would be fantastic," Phipps said.