Oakport Encampment Eviction Was Directed by EBMUD

A mass eviction of an estimated 30 RVs and vehicles--and 70 to 100 residents--along Oakport and 66th Avenue was initiated by East Bay Municipal Utilities District, residents now say. The encampment located along the shoulder of Oakport Avenue, an industrial street sandwiched between Southbound 880 and the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline Park was one of Oakland’s oldest, existing in one form or another for years, but in the last two years had swelled in size. The encampment was an eclectic mix of RVs, vehicles, tents and structures—and even a resident living in a small discarded sailboat for a time. 

The eviction occurred between mid-October and early November. Residents I spoke to said some were given 72 hour eviction notices, backed up with the threat of calling police in the last days of the camp—its not clear whether vehicles were towed at EBMUD’s request. After most of the vehicles had left or been towed, EBMUD apparently also was responsible for lining the entire shoulder of Oakport with concrete barricades and fencing. Portapotties and sanitation stations from the City of Oakland remain on the site, but its not clear if they are being serviced. 

According to public documents and data from the Alameda County Assessor’s Office, EBMUD owns a significant amount of the property on Oakport between 66th Avenue and Lesser Street, including a maintenance and storage facility, but its unclear where the property lines end and where public land begins along the shoulder and road. EBMUD has blocked the entire shoulder along Oakport Street from its building to 66th Avenue as can be seen in the video below. You can also get an idea of how big the encampment was--the entire concrete abutted area was encampment, I was going about 30mph and it took me a minute to run the length.

 https://twitter.com/hyphy_republic/status/1208535066067910656  

Although EBMUD did perform some public infrastructure construction along the route, it was confined to one area close to 66th St, and another area in front of its building and site—there was no work along most of the long stretch of the former Oakport encampment. The fencing behind the concrete barriers now have no trespassing signs with the EMBUD logo, indicating the primary purpose of the eviction may have been removing the encampment. At a recent public meeting, Assistant City Administrator Maraskeshia Smith stated that the eviction had been initiated by EBMUD and that the City had been contacted by the public agency to carry out post-eviction clean up. 

After the eviction, about 4 residents remain, scattered and distant from one another along the shoulder, confined to a few gaps in the concrete barriers. Residents now say that though Oakland Police did tell people to leave or face fines and tickets [apparently on behalf of EBMUD], they did not have contact with City staff until several weeks later when Public Works employees came on scheduled trash pickup runs. The two residents I spoke to told me that no City Staff, organizations or volunteers have been to the site to offer assistance since the evictions began. They also said that EBMUD has routinely told them to leave and that they’ve had visits from OPD telling them to leave, but that they’ve been left more or less alone since the majority of residents left. 


Updates

A trip to the Assessor's office confirms that EBMUD owns large tracts of land adjacent to Oakport Avenue [and even land that is part of the MLK Shoreline Park], but it doesn't actually clear things up. 

EBMUD's parcel lines end at the shoulder of Oakport Avenue, for one thing. And a large segment of the area of camp that was evicted is part of a large parcel fully owned by the City of Oakland [and not Caltrans or County, for example] that extends further South and includes the entire street. 


I'll be investigating where EBMUD's apparent power to evict from the shoulder of Oakport St. came--or didn't come--from. And what the City did or didn't know, and what permission it may have given--and/or which agency should have been the entity tasked with authorizing such an action against a homeless encampment. 



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