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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 on 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 Friday night on Solano Avenue 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 05:23 AM
Time to drop the HAMMER!!!

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