City officials dismantle most of West Oakland homeless camp

OAKLAND (BCN) City of Oakland officials today dismantled most of a homeless tent encampment in West Oakland where a fire burned 12 tents and a sanitation station on Monday night, a city spokesman said.

Joe DeVries, an assistant to the city administrator who works on homelessness issues, said city officials had hoped to remove all of the tents at the encampment in the vicinity of 35th and Peralta streets, under
Interstate Highway 580, but the process was slow so the city is allowing about 6 or 7 tents to remain until next week.

DeVries said, "We didn't want to interfere with traffic safety and the evening commute so we're allowing a few people to remain there this weekend."

He said Oakland police will patrol the area over the weekend to make sure that more people don't come to the site to set up tents.

DeVries said about 40 people originally set up tents at the encampment, which the city helped set up last fall and included portable toilets and wash stations.

DeVries said the city only intended to keep the encampment open until the end of March but decided to keep it open longer after a fire at an apartment building at 2551 San Pablo Ave. on March 27 left four people dead
and displaced about 100 other residents.

He said city officials have referred the encampment's residents to local shelters and health resources and most of them have found alternative housing.

The fire at the tent city at 35th and Peralta streets broke out at 8:19 p.m. on Monday but was quickly contained and no one was injured, according to City Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, who represents that

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Gibson McElhaney said in a statement that the fire on Monday and the fatal blaze at 2551 San Pablo Ave. on March 27 "underscore our need to do more."

She said, "I will bring forward bold proposals to secure more housing and improve safety and alleviate the public health concerns raised by unregulated campsites."

A dog died and five tents were lost in a fire at another homeless camp in the vicinity of East 12th Street between 22nd and 23rd avenues underneath Interstate Highway 880 on the morning of April 13, fire officials