No more trash, trailers littering road next to Edison Highway

No more trash, trailers littering road next to Edison Highway
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — This time the squatters were living in travel trailers parked along a Kern County road. Neighbors in the Edison area said it was a hazard, especially with all the junk and trash piled around.

On Tuesday, law enforcement officers and county officials got the mess cleaned up.

"I was overwhelmed," County Roads Department supervisor Daniel Valdes told Eyewitness News. "It's something I couldn't do on my own through my own department. It would have been a lot of loads and trucks, and it would have taken weeks to get this out of here."

The mess filled three, big "roll-off" bin dumpsters. A county road department loader scooped up the debris, with help from a Kern County sheriff's inmate crew.

By noon, it was all gone.

Neighbors say the trailers had been on the Edison Access Road for several months. It's just north of Edison Highway, east of Edison Road. One neighbor told Eyewitness News he had called the Sheriff's Department, and was also told to contact County Code Compliance.

Code Supervisor DeAnna Benson said officers "red tagged" the camper trailers on Jan. 29. The trailers had no electricity or water hooked up, and no sewage disposal. Benson said all occupied structures must have power, heat, and hot and cold water.

Valdes said it wasn't clear how long people had been living in the trailers, but someone definitely had been staying there. "You could tell where they were sleeping," he said. "And if you looked through the windows, you could see blankets and food."

On Tuesday morning, Valdes said the California Highway Patrol had one trailer pulled off the site. He said two others were probably just moved by the people who'd been living there.

Code Compliance supervisor Benson said she had talked to one of the men found living in a trailer. She described him as an older man, who was "aggressive." Benson said she tried to offer assistance by suggesting community groups who could help. But, he refused.

The man also refused to say where the trailer was being moved to.

Crews on the scene Tuesday say it appears when the trailers were being pulled out, someone tried to live temporarily inside one of the big dumpsters.

"Their bed was in there, and you could see they had a little, small little porta-potty type thing in there," Valdes explained.

With the trailers gone, that still left the big job of removing piles of junk and trash. Valdes said it was spilling into the county-maintained road. Superior Sanitation and Price Disposal helped with the clean-up project, providing the roll-off bins to collect the debris and get it taken to the landfill.

A small, wooden shack nearby also had signs people had been staying there. Benson said she was told people from the trailers were sometimes using that building. The code officer said it's on private property, and owners of a nearby packing shed plan to board it up and secure it.

That shack was also "red tagged" by code officers, and Benson said that means sheriff deputies can cite or arrest anyone found staying in the building.

Neighbors told Eyewitness News they worried about fire hazards from the squatters living in the trailers, especially with all the junk piled up. One man also worried about theft and vandalism, as well as the health hazards.

Valdes said he understood the neighbors' concerns. "There's dangers from it -- I'm sure," he said. "There's a school right across the street, and you don't want your children playing in this stuff, or going through it."

From Code Compliance, DeAnna Benson encouraged neighbors to call and report problems like this, stressing the investigation starts a legal process that can take two or three months.

To report problems in the county, call 862-8603. In the City of Bakersfield, call their Code Enforcement office at 326-3674.

Valdes agrees it's important to get help from the public. "If you see anything like this -- call it in," Valdes said. "Call it in, because a lot of stuff, we can't catch."