Oakland moves forward with long-sought homeless encampment eviction

A homeless encampment in Oakland that has been the source of constant complaints about filth and crime is being cleared out. 

The encampment is located at Union Point Park on Embarcadero along the city's estuary. 

The removal of the large encampment took 10 months, a lot of patience, defiance, litigation and a judge's order to complete. 

With a temporary federal restraining order lifted, the City of Oakland made good on its long-sought goal of cleaning up Union Point Park and an adjacent parking lot, occupied by a growing homeless encampment, since last December.  

"We're getting complaints from the Coastal Commission, from the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, obviously from marina residents, the Port," said Joe DeVries, assistant to the city administrator. "This is on a waterway, it's made the park unusable. Vector control, is complaining about the rat infestation that they're going to have to come through and deal with."

Homeless advocate Needa Bee, who was recently evicted from another camp, stopped by the location to make sure evictors followed the rules. 

"I know from watching evictions for the last six years and then being evicted last year, that the city has policies which they do not follow, which is why many encampments, including this one and the one I was part of, decided to sue the city," said Bee. 

With the judge allowing the eviction to proceed, work began Tuesday to remove tons of debris. 

Once again, as what's been the case time after time, the next tragic chapter is what some homeless people call a human "whack-a-mole." 

"The city that we are from, the community that we live in is not helping the problem by evicting us from point A to B and from B to A," said evicted camper Nicole Burns. 

"There is no end to this and there's not gonna be any end until the city starts building affordable housing for everybody," said Bee. "Not just these condos, not just these luxury apartments no one from Oakland can afford."

DeVries said the city is working to address the need for affordable housing but says other cities need to follow suit. 

"The city has a lot of affordable homes in the pipeline, but they're not being built fast enough to keep up with the demand," he said. "We need other cities to follow suit. We can no longer have smaller cities refusing to build affordable housing and expecting cities like Oakland and San Francisco to shoulder the entire burden of the region." 

For many of people evicted, homelessness is more than a mere inconvenience. 

"It's very exhausting and it's hard work. It's very hard work," said Burns.

Crews plan to have the area cleared out in two days.