The protest – on the northwest corner of Solano and Sante Fe Avenue – was called to show city officials what it would be like if the Bulb's estimated 60 residents are evicted and forced to camp on the streets, said Lesley Haddock, one of the organizers of the event.
Haddock described the action in comments to the City Council earlier this evening, saying, "I ask you to look at that, not as a confrontation, but a question to you what you actually want – where do you want these people to go?"
She was one of more than a dozen speakers who asked the council either to leave the Bulb inhabitants alone or to give them more time to qualify for assistance and find alternative housing.
The group opposes the decision by the Albany City Council to ask police to begin enforcing the city's no-camping law sometime this month at the Bulb. The city's long-term goal is make the property part of the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.
The activists' comments tonight came before the council moved into closed session to discuss legal matters, including a lawsuit filed against the city on Wednesday.
That suit, whose plaintiffs include Bulb resident Amber Whitson, accuses the city of violating state mandates to facilitate affordable housing and says the people living at the Bulb are evidence of the "chronic homelessness" caused by the lack of affordable housing in the city. The city so far has not issued a response to the suit.
The city meanwhile hopes the Bulb residents will relocate voluntarily and is working with the Berkeley Food and Housing Project to offer them assistance in securing social services and alternative housing. The two agencies co-hosted a "Services Fair" for the homeless next to the Bulb on Thursday. The city has also established a "Homelessness in Albany" web page about the city's policies at the Bulb.
Opponents of the removal of the Bulb dwellers have held a number of gatherings and protests in the past week, including a nighttime demonstration outside the home of the one of the leading advocates for making the Bulb part of the Eastshore Park.
Several protesters gathered about 9 p.m. on Saturday night outside the home of Albany lawyer and former Mayor Robert Cheasty, who is president of the non-profit Citizens for East Shore Parks, one of the leading groups in blocking development of the East Bay shoreline in favor of parklands and nature reserves.
Contacted by Patch about the incident, Cheasty said about eight or nine demonstrators gathered at his home and chanted loudly, waking up small children, including a baby, at the home of a neighbor.
"It was inconsiderate to come and make a lot of noise that late at night," he said, and added a conciliatory acknowledgment, "I understand people are concerned and upset."
"I harbor no ill-will or bad feelings toward those people," he said. He said he'd wished he had had some cake or other snack he could have invited the protesters to share over a discussion that night and recommended face-to-face discussions about how to realize the public's long-standing goal of adding the Bulb to the shoreline park and provide real help to the homeless at the same time.
He said the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park is the result of 40 years of organizing and planning by thousands of people, and support of millions who passed the necessary bond measures. The City of Albany's longstanding goal is turn over the city-owned Albany Bulb to the park.
Haddock said she and other anti-eviction activists also attended a fundraising dinner for the Sierra Club in San Francisco on Friday night, canvassing the room and handing out flyers and a letter. The Sierra Club supports the plan to include the Bulb in the state park.
Last Wednesday, opponents of the removal of the Bulb encampment held an evening "solidarity camp-out" at the Bulb, following an earlier gathering by the protesters at the Bulb on Sept. 28.
A press release from the activists this morning said, "The City of Albany, along with the Sierra Club and Citizens for East Shore Parks, is trying to evict more than 60 people who call the Albany Bulb home in order to go through with plans to develop a park, without providing any alternative housing solutions in the face of the coming winter."
Patch saw about two dozen or so protesters tonight on Solano at 8:30 p.m., and a similar-sized group was still present at 10:45 p.m. Many of the demonstrators did not appear to be planning to spend the entire night, though several indicated they would.
Published Oct. 7, 2013, 10:04 p.m., updated 11:55 p.m.
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