ALBANY -- Workers with the city's Public Works Department, accompanied by Albany police officers, removed what the city called "abandoned" encampments at the Albany Bulb on Dec. 9, drawing reaction from protesters who oppose plans to remove homeless residents there before turning the Bulb over to the East Bay Regional Park District.
A report on the website Indybay.org claimed the campsites that were removed were not abandoned, and that a woman named Doris lost her "home."
Albany City Clerk Nicole Almaguer denied that report.
"There were not any evictions (Dec. 9) at the Albany Bulb," Almaguer wrote in an email. "The work done by city Public Works was to remove two abandoned encampments as the people staying in the encampments found housing via the assistance of the city in conjunction with Berkeley Food and Housing Project."
Almaguer said the items removed were "general debris and trash." A bulldozer/backhoe was used and can be seen in photos posted at Indybay.org.
The workers and police left the Bulb after removing the encampments and a Bay Area News Group reporter who went to the waterfront site that afternoon found no signs of further activity.
The city had issued a news release Dec. 5 that announced that three people had been relocated from encampments on the Bulb into rental housing. The Berkeley Food and Housing Project and Solano Community Church have been conducting outreach to find housing for the residents.
It's estimated that about 60 people have been living on the Bulb. The Albany City Council voted in May to begin enforcing the city's anti-camping ordinance on the Bulb beginning in October.
The city also allocated funding for programs to find housing for the residents of the Bulb and provide temporary shelters nearby for those who cannot find housing. The city has not begun enforcing the ordinance, according to Almaguer.
"The encampments in question were utilized by the three that chose to relocate to housing, and worked with staff to confirm the location of their encampments, agreeing that the abandoned encampments could be removed," she wrote. "It is possible that others in the area may have chosen to utilize the abandoned encampment after the three moved to housing."
A freeze warning was issued in many parts of the Bay Area on the weekend of Dec. 8 and at least four homeless people in the Bay Area had died in the cold that weekend, according to news reports. There were no reports of deaths at the Bulb that weekend.
Protesters have fought the removal of the encampments since the City Council vote to enforce the ban.
Current protests have focused on the fact that Bulb residents have built makeshift homes on the former garbage dump out of pallets and other reclaimed materials and that evicting those residents would lead to them having to sleep on the streets and be subject to the freezing weather.
The city has planned for some time to turn the land over to the regional park district to become part of the Sylvia McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. Plans for the park addition began decades ago. The regional park district will not accept the land until the homeless population is removed and the land is cleaned up.