OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Cleanup efforts began Tuesday on a massive homeless encampment, stretching for several blocks in West Oakland’s Lower Bottoms neighborhood, that was being removed to make way for a safe parking site for residents living on the street in recreational vehicles.
The anonymous owner of the four-acre parcel agreed to lease it back to the city at no cost so the site could be completely cleared and graded to make way for the installation of fencing, electrical service and other amenities for the new RV housing site.
“We are excited about cleaning up the property to allow it to be used to address the homeless crisis that is impacting this community-especially the impact of RVs parked all over West Oakland neighborhoods,” said Pat Smith, who represents the owner. “The first step is to remove all of the vehicles currently on the property.”
Over the past 18 months conditions have deteriorated as campers living in RVs, buses, and other vehicles and makeshift structures have moved onto the plot of dirt and concrete. The property has also become a dumping ground for abandoned vehicles and large amounts of trash and debris.
During the past month, Oakland police officers have identified 139 vehicles parked illegally on the property that need to be removed. More than 100 of the vehicles are in various states of disrepair, either partially dismantled, inoperable, or vehicles that appear to have been dumped on the lot.
Outreach workers began contacting campers on the property in August, discussing the clean-up plans. They have been offering the campers the opportunity to move onto other Safe RV Parking facilities while the construction takes place.
Once the new park is built, campers currently living in RV’s on the property will be encouraged to join a waiting list to move back.