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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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Gary Matalucci January 18, 2014 at 05:04 AM
Would all of you continue your protest in the city of Orinda? I'm positive we could provide the rides. Thank you for your kind consideration. :)
doris January 18, 2014 at 09:11 AM
Once again, the impotent Albany police sits on its hands...nice. And the note about bulldozing Cheasty's home? These "campers" are really clueless, aren't they? They have no right to these "homes", Cheasty does....it's called private property and protecting it is the foundation of all law.
doris January 18, 2014 at 09:12 AM
maybe we have to make citizen arrests since our police does nothing?
John Kindle January 18, 2014 at 09:52 AM
Lets remember our police are handling the situation the way they have been instructed to do so my our city government.
Alan Eckert January 18, 2014 at 11:08 AM
On one hand, There is a part of me that thinks not arresting them for last night's camp out is better. They are doing it with the hopes of being arrested, which would energize the occupy part of the group. In this case, it's probably better to ignore the camp (for a single night) but maintain ministering of the situation to make sure someone doesn't do something stupid. On the other hand, not enforcing the camping laws is how the bulb crap started in the first place. They should have been arrested to show that the city means business when enforcing the laws on the books.
Jack Osborne January 18, 2014 at 11:12 AM
The hands-off approach by the local police seems perfect to me - it keeps things at the level of non-event that it truly is. It's a single night of minor activity that almost no one cares about. While the overall situation on the Bulb is clearly locally important, this particular protest highlights more the lack of overall support for the campers than anything else.
Lisa Park January 18, 2014 at 11:19 AM
Here's something I don't understand: "The suit says...that the city's 30-bed homeless shelter...violates requirements of the Americans Disabilities Act that city-sponsored housing provide reasonable accommodations for Bulb dwellers with physical and mental disabilities." If the Bulb residents find they cannot use the shelter because of their disabilities, how could they live on the Bulb? Doesn't the Bulb have at least as many access barriers as the shelter?
Senior A. Titude January 18, 2014 at 11:27 AM
The only chance they have is to create a media event to drum up support for the poor victims at the hands of the evil Albanians. Best option is to just let it fade away, quietly.
Rochelle Nason January 18, 2014 at 12:29 PM
The Occupiers' animus towards Robert Cheasty and other park advocates reflects their belief that the rest of Albany didn't really care about the crowding and the deteriorating conditions of the Bulb encampments until the Citizens for East Shore Parks started calling for action in the spring of 2013. This completely ignores the fact that during the fall 2012 election, the winning candidates for City Council all promised to take action on the issue. Between the chorus of complaints about the dogs and other problems associated with the growth of the encampments, and the suicide of young mother Jane D. Owens on the Bulb in February 2013, the Council really had no choice but to start dealing with the situation. Blaming Robert Cheasty and CESP for putting a spotlight on the terrible environmental conditions in the park is just absurd.
Margaret Tong January 18, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Alan - I don't think ye mean 'ministering' the situation. Sure 'monitorin'? Or were the bobbies holding hands and singing hymns at them?
Senior A. Titude January 18, 2014 at 01:19 PM
Could not help but notice, walking my dog this morning, that the Occupiers tent completely blocked the sidewalk on Solano. Apparently their ADA rights at the bulb are important, but the right of those who utilize wheelchairs are insignificant. Hypocrites.
Kirsten Schwartz January 18, 2014 at 01:24 PM
Lisa Park, Rochelle, Senior: yes.
Alan Eckert January 18, 2014 at 01:26 PM
I do mean monitoring. Autocorrect got me. I just passed the law office at 10ish and they were still camped out on the sidewalk, actually blocking it with their tents. The police informed me that they did make people move off of private property, and that as long as they weren't on private property or preventing someone passage, that the order was to leave them and monitor. I'm waiting to find out just where that directive came from.
Alan Eckert January 18, 2014 at 01:29 PM
And Senior, I agree with pointing out that hypocrisy. For them it's terrible, but it's ok if it's done to others (ie us wealthy mansion owners). The officer I just talked to said that as long as they don't prevent passage (are they going to move their tents?), then they wouldn't do anything.
Kirsten Schwartz January 18, 2014 at 01:40 PM
Sounds like they prevented Senior and his canine friend. Which sounds like trying to walk on the Bulb. But my point: when do the police remove them?
Marsha Skinner January 18, 2014 at 02:28 PM
and now several of them filling the Westbound traffic lane on Solano pushing a large rolling container ( Hello out there - Is anybody missing what they would send industrial laundry in???)
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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