OAKLAND -- An Alameda County Superior Court judge on Friday granted requests for a demurrer by three people arrested on the Albany Bulb, delaying the next stage in the case to Aug. 13. The District Attorney's office had been expected to request a stay-away order for Amber Whitson, one of the defendants in the case, but did not.
Whitson was ecstatic that the expected stay-away order was not requested.
"I'm so excited," she said. "I'm just glad I'm not going to be banned from the Bulb, at least yet, if at all. At least I still have some more time to try and show people the place. I can go out there and breathe the real air. I can keep track of how the praying mantises are growing. I can watch the destruction they're doing to the trees and whatever they're doing to the Bulb."
Whitson has been giving free tours of the Bulb in an effort to share her knowledge of the property and widen awareness of the community that camped there.
She said she will continue the tours as long as she's allowed to go to the Bulb and people are interested in learning about the former landfill that has been her home for seven and a half years.
Albany City Clerk Nicole Almaguer declined to answer questions about whether the city requested a stay-away order be issued and why it wasn't requested on Friday, saying that "specific questions regarding the District Attorney's handling of the hearing should be directed at that office."
"We have every confidence that the court will follow a course of action that respects the rights of Ms. Whitson to present her defense, while also respecting the city's need to keep Albany's parks safe and accessible for all users," Almaguer wrote in an email.
Whitson, her partner Phillip Lewis and Eric Eisenberg were arrested on May 29 and charged with misdemeanors for illegally camping or lodging on the property without the permission of the owner.
The three requested the demurrer, a legal assertion that whether the facts as stated are true or not, there is no legal basis for the charges.
A hearing will either sustain or overrule on the demurrer. If it is sustained, the DA's office would be given a chance to remedy the indictment.
A defendant does not enter a plea to a charge until after the demurrer is ruled upon.
Whitson and Lewis were the final two known campers at the Bulb out of an estimated 70 at the height of the homeless encampment.
The city has been working to remove the people living on the Bulb for over a year so that the property can be turned over to the East Bay Regional Park District as part of the Sylvia McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.
Eisenberg is a supporter who was camping with Whitson and Lewis when the police raid occurred.