Camping could be banned along Lake Merritt, replaced with Tuff sheds

A group rallied on the edge of Lake Merritt Sunday to protest the city of Oakland’s plans to ban camping around the perimeter of the lake and open a "Tuff shed" community instead.

The plan is to build the sheds at the Henry Kaiser Convention lot. It will include 20 cabins to house 40 people. Nikki Fortunado Bas - who is running for District 2 Supervisor - wonders, where will everyone else go? 

“That means that the 100 people who are living in tents around the lake are going to be evicted,” said Bas. “And unfortunately there aren't enough shelters options or other places for them to go so we believe that is an inhumane action."

"What's inhumane is to do nothing,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “This is a way to get people the comfort, the dignity of going to bed at night behind a locked door where only they have the key."

She said there’s on-site staff to help connect residents to health care and job opportunities. More than 40 people in the pilot program have already found transitional or permanent housing. 

"It really balances the needs of residents that really want to use the park, the sidewalks, the public spaces,” said Schaaf. “But it is also dignified and humane for our unsheltered residents who we have to improve their living conditions."

About $200,000 in private funding has been secured. The city council will vote on additional funding at Monday's meeting.