ALBANY -- The city has received 32 "requests for accommodations" under terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act from current residents of the Albany Bulb and will review the requests over the next few weeks.
The requests come as the city continues to work to clear the homeless population from the Bulb so the land can be turned over to the East Bay Regional Park District as part of the Sylvia McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.
The ADA aspect was raised in a lawsuit filed by residents of the Bulb and housing advocates. A temporary restraining order was denied in November, but the case is still pending.
An emergency shelter with a capacity of 30 has been set up at the waterfront with the intent of giving Bulb residents a place to stay while the city and two local outreach groups worked to secure housing for them. However, according to the city, only one to three people have used the shelter on any given night.
The lawsuit claims the city's temporary shelter is out of compliance with the ADA. The court in part denied the temporary restraining order because specific accommodations had not been requested yet.
According to a news release issued by the city on Dec. 26, the requests state that the individuals are disabled, "due to a variety of physical and mental health conditions. Many of the requests ask that the individuals remain at the Albany Bulb until suitable housing can be obtained to meet their particular needs."
The release said the city is reviewing the requests to determine if any "reasonable" accommodations are "necessary."
The review will determine whether the requested accommodations would "require a fundamental alteration of a city program, cause an undue administrative burden on city operations, or place an undue financial burden on the city."
The release also stated that Albany would not issue citations for violations of the anti-camping ordinance to those 32 individuals, nor would it clear their campsites, until a determination is made on their requests.
However, the release leaves open the possibility of citing or arresting those individuals for other reasons.
The City Council voted in May to begin enforcing the city's anti-camping ordinance beginning in October. Actual enforcement, however, didn't begin until December, when police began issuing warnings to campers and arrested some on outstanding warrants and drug charges. It is believed that about 60 people are currently living on the Bulb.
The City Council also allocated funding to help residents of the Bulb secure housing. The city has said three formerly homeless Bulb residents have been placed in housing.