Holly Quan

"It's Like a 'Mad Max' Movie"

Sprawling Homeless Encampment Irks Neighbors

KCBS Radio Morning News
November 06, 2018 - 7:42 am

OAKLAND (KCBS Radio) -- A sprawling homeless encampment near Interstate 880 and High Street in Oakland is frustrating nearby businesses large and small. 

People in tents, shanties and RV's are living along Alameda Avenue and on a pie-shaped piece of land abutting the Home Depot store parking lot. 

A walk through that encampment reveals squalid conditions. "It's like a Mad Max movie," said KCBS Radio reporter Holly Quan after seeing a dead rat rotting on a dirt path, several men gathered around an open fire in a metal container, and a purloined fire hose being used to transport water from a nearby fire hydrant.

 Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo represents the area. He has heard from the frustrated manager of the Home Depot store, where Gallo said revenue has dropped by 25% over the last two years.

"They're all around his facility, they're breaking through his fence, they're stealing his lumber, stealing his tools, stealing his carts," Gallo said, referring to the Home Depot manager.

A short distance away, Jennifer Engle has operated the Bay Island Gymnastics facility for the last 14 years. She's not happy about the situation either.

"I don't want children exposed to it and that's why it just shocks me that Oakland isn't doing anything about it," said Engle.

In late October, Oakland officials announced plans to spend $8.6 million in state grant money creating new "Tuff Shed" villages composed of temporary sheds as well as four sanctioned parking areas for RV's. But a timetable for clearing the encampment near the Home Depot store has not been released.