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'Campout' on Solano Ave. in Protest of Albany Bulb Eviction

About a dozen protestors staged a campout on Solano Avenue at the Albany and Berkeley border Friday night to oppose the eviction of those living on the Albany Bulb. It was their second campout protest on Solano.

About a dozen protestors opposed to the City of Albany plan to evict homeless encampments on Albany Bulb staged a campout on Solano Avenue on Jan. 17, 2014. Photo credit: Charles Burress
About a dozen protestors opposed to the City of Albany plan to evict homeless encampments on Albany Bulb staged a campout on Solano Avenue on Jan. 17, 2014. Photo credit: Charles Burress
A dozen protestors camped out on Solano Avenue on Friday night against the eviction of those living in makeshift encampments on the Albany Bulb.

The protestors were gathered around two tents on the sidewalk, a mobile camper and a small, portable wooden "house" made from found materials to provide shelter for the homeless.

Albany police appeared to be keeping a hands-off approach. A police dispatcher told Patch at 11:12 p.m. that there had been no police activity involving the protesters and that she was not aware of any being planned.

The activists were camped on the Albany side at the border with Berkeley in front of the law office or Robert Cheasty, a former Albany mayor who is president of Citizens for East Shore Parks, a non-profit that supports making the Albany Bulb part of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.

The demonstration was part of a "West Coast Day of Action" in support of a "homeless bill of rights," said Lesley Haddock, one of the campout organizers. The Day of Action is sponsored by the Western Regional Advocacy Project, an umbrella organization of social justice groups.

The protest began at 4:30 p.m. at Albany City Hall with a rally by about 20 people opposed to the City of Albany's current efforts remove those living on the Bulb. Among those who addressed the rally was artist/attorney Osha Neumann, one of the lawyers representing Bulb residents in a federal lawsuit against the city's plan.

The suit says, among other things, that the city's 30-bed homeless shelter, which opened next to the Bulb in November, violates requirements of the Americans Disabilities Act that city-sponsored housing provide reasonable accommodations for Bulb dwellers with physical and mental disabilities. The shelter has gone largely unused.

The campout on Solano displayed a large "Share the Bulb" banner and messages written in chalk on the pavement, including the following on the law firm's driveway:

Hey Cheasty,
What the hell are you thinking? This isn't really that funny. You would be pretty upset if some guys with guns bulldozed your house, right? So don't try and bulldoze the houses on the Bulb. Okay?
                         – Your Mom

It was the second campout on Solano by opponents of the Bulb eviction. The first one was held without incident in front of California Bank & Trust on Oct. 7.

Opponents of the Bulb eviction are also planning a "day of participatory art, live demonstrations, workshops, and art tours" at the Bulb on Saturday. More details are available on their Share the Bulb website.

The conversion of the untamed Albany Bulb, a small peninsula of construction debris dumped in the Bay at the foot of Buchanan Street, into part of the state park that runs along the Bay's eastern shore from Emeryville to Richmond has been long-standing city policy.

In a series of decisions beginning in May, the Albany City Council decided to begin enforcing the city's no-camping ordiance at the Bulb and remove the illegal encampments.

The council approved $570,000 in October for the plan to clear and clean-up the property.

More information about the city's plan and the protests against it can be found in the recent news articles and community blog and board posts about the issue. Click here for a list of titles and links.

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Robert Cheasty January 18, 2014 at 03:42 PM
Nobody who is serious about the problem of homelessness would offer tent camps as a solution. We each have only a precious number of minutes on this planet. Spending time protesting on Solano Avenue is not an effective use of time if the goal is truly to address homelessness.
Gary Matalucci January 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM
Perhaps you folks could try that stunt in Orinda, Atherton, Hillsborough, Ross. I can guarantee how long it would last: 1 nano-second.
doris January 20, 2014 at 10:04 AM
well, Gary, that's because the Albany Police is impotent. But we still have to pay them.
Alan Eckert January 20, 2014 at 01:13 PM
I just got off the phone with an Albany police officer. Apparently, the ordinance regarding camping doesn't quite cover the sidewalks. Instead, it was decided (not quite sure by whom) to consider a "balancing act" and observe "how [the campout] impacts the city, the citizens." So, they decided to keep their distance and only asked them to move off private property (I assume the Cheasty law office property and driveway). Regarding an ADA complaint, I was told that the police would only intervene if someone had made a complaint to them. A major problem with the city code is that "Parks, recreation and open space areas" (City code 8-4) is not broad enough. Right now, City Council is looking at removing only the word "loiter" from the code, but perhaps they should also look at expanding the definition of 8-4.2(a) so that law enforcement doesn't have as much room to consider a "balancing act" and instead enforce the laws as intended.
Senior A. Titude January 20, 2014 at 06:55 PM
I'm pretty sure if I park my car blocking the sidewalk at my driveway, I can be ticketed. No one has to complain; an officer can just drive by and tag me. If that's the case, the same should apply to completely blocking the sidewalk anywhere, unless a permit is received. And my car is a lot easier to move than that giant tent they had!

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