San Francisco’s Illegal Parkway Campers

Only they have ocean views, but the situation is similar, as this story from the San Francisco Chronicle reports, with homeless camping virtually allowed for decades, as it essentially was in the Parkway until last year when the County got serious about stopping it.

An excerpt from the Chronicle article.

Albany’s version of People’s Park appears headed for a showdown next month when police begin rousting 60 to 70 homeless people who’ve taken up residence at a long-neglected shoreline park.

The City Council recently voted to begin enforcing no-camping laws at the Albany Bulb, a 31-acre former landfill that juts into San Francisco Bay just north of Golden Gate Fields racetrack.

But some of the homeless, a few of whom have camped there for decades, pledge to resist any relocation efforts. Affordable housing in the Bay Area is scarce, far too expensive and potentially too far away or unsafe, they said.

In short, Albany is their home, and they want to stay there, they said.

“It’s frustrating, aggravating, scary,” said Katherine Cody, 60, who’s lived at the Bulb for about two years. “I’m comfortable here. I feel safe here. Rainy season is coming – I don’t know where I’ll go except the streets of Albany.”

The Bulb, named after its shape, is comprised of old concrete, rebar, dirt and other debris from the construction of East Bay highways. Since the landfill closed in 1984, it’s evolved into a somewhat more natural setting, with a beach and dense acacia, broom, eucalyptus and other plants.

Decades ago, artists began colonizing the Bulb as a sort of outdoor studio not unlike the old Emeryville mudflats, leaving anonymous works of all shapes, sizes and quality. Some works have endured and others have disintegrated over the years.

In the 1980s, homeless people also started moving in, taking advantage of the relative quiet and million-dollar bay views. Some have semi-permanent homes, with generators, sturdy wooden walls and even multiple stories.

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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