ALBANY -- A large structure on the Albany Bulb known to some as the "pallet palace" was demolished last week, the latest development in the city's efforts to remove the homeless encampment from the waterfront site.
The multistory structure, made out of pallets and other materials, was inspected on March 7 by a "consulting certified building official," according to City Clerk Nicole Almaguer.
"The illegal structure was in violation of numerous state and local code provisions and posed an immediate threat to public health and safety," Almaguer wrote in an email. "The violations were so extensive that there was no possibility they could be corrected by repairs, nor would such construction be legally permitted on public property at the Albany Bulb waterfront park."
The structure was red-tagged by the city and demolished March 19.
Almaguer said the nonprofit Berkeley Food and Housing Project has "connected" with the people who had been living in the structure. BFHP is working through a city contract to attempt to find housing and other services for the residents of the Bulb.
"Some personal belongings were stored, with the person retrieving their personal property shortly thereafter," Almaguer noted. "The majority of personal property was taken from the site by the person that was staying in the structure."
For nearly a year, the city has been working to remove an estimated 60 people who live at the site so that the land can be turned over to the East Bay Regional Park District as part of the Sylvia McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.
At last count, housing had been found for nine Bulb residents, although two of them later were displaced due to issues with their dog. For decades, people have lived on the Bulb, a former city landfill. Albany last tried to remove the campers in 1999.
The City Council voted last year to begin enforcing the city's anti-camping ordinance while also contracting with BFHP and Solano Community Church to attempt to find housing for the Bulb residents.
Albany police have been issuing warnings to campers and have arrested some on outstanding warrants or for drug possession. A handful of dwellings were removed in December.
A wide-scale sweep of the Bulb has not happened to this point. Almaguer characterized the March 19 demolition as simply part of the city's efforts and not a new step in its enforcement.