After sharing food served on a long table set up temporarily next to Albany Beach, the group met inside a small amphitheather-style bowl on stacked stone seats at the entrance of the Bulb.
Several topics arose, with proposals for cleaning up trash and addressing the issue of whether some of the makeshift living structures were too large.
Doug Anderson, who helped organize the gathering, said at the meeting that picking up trash and addressing the size of the structures would not deal with the chief issue, which he said is the City of Albany's decision to evict those living on the Bulb next month.
He stressed the importance of a planned camp-out at the Bulb on Wednesday, Oct. 2. A flyer said the "Solidarity Camp-Out @ the Albany Bulb" is intended "to prevent the eviction of its current residents + explore solutions."
The City Council – whose longstanding goal is to hand over responsibility for the city-owned Bulb to the East Bay Regional Park District to manage as part of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park – voted in May to ask the police department to begin enforcing the city's no-camping ordinance at the Bulb in October.
No date has been announced for when the enforcement will begin. An estimated 60-70 people live on the Bulb in a variety of tents and makeshift structures.
In June, the council agreed to hire the Berkeley Food and Housing Project to implement what the city calls "Project Hope" to help those living on the Bulb and other Albany homeless connect with social services and find alternative housing.
Also participating in the ongoing effort are the Solano Community Church and the Albany Community Foundation.
Upcoming "Services Fair" next to the Bulb
The city is also co-sponsoring a "Services Fair" for the homeless on Thursday, Oct. 3, next to the Albany Waterfront and entrance to the Bulb. Several local service agencies are scheduled to participate.
The planned removal of the Bulb encampment has stirred much controversy, including many sharply contrasting views expressed in comments on Albany Patch news articles as well as blog posts and "Speak Out" board posts by readers.
The City Council agreed to consider the issue again at its Sept. 3 meeting, which drew a march by about four dozen Bulb residents and supporters. At that meeting, the council voted 4-1 to reaffirm its decision to proceed with enforcing the no-camping law next month.
City info page on Bulb issue
The city has also created an information web page about the issue called "Homelessness in Albany," with a FAQ sheet, photos, a summary of assistance provided so far to the Bulb residents and links to news articles and service agencies.
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