Governor Gavin Newsome is threatening to take back millions of dollars in funding to the city of Oakland. A letter from the Governor's office to Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker accusing the City of Oakland of shirking their responsibilities to clear a large fire prone West Oakland homeless camp known as the Wood Street Project. The letter states the City is not taking action because the camp is in land owned by Caltrans– which is not part of the City.
Governor Newsome has made cleaning encampments a priority. The state has given $300 million to Oakland and Alameda County for this purpose; the City Attorney Parker says that they are reviewing the situation to come up with a solution. Several hundred people are estimated to live in the camp on the land which is owned by Caltrans. The State is concerned because there was a massive fire there and the freeway needed to be closed down for several hours.
Following the fire, Caltrans said it planned to close down the camp by the first week of August. Currently there is a population of about two hundred people. In response to the threat of being relocated. The homeless residence filed a lawsuit. A federal judge ruled that Caltrans could not move them until they had a plan in place to relocate the homeless residence. The City of Oakland is meeting with Caltrans to discuss the city's role in resolving the situation. The city is working on the relocation of the homeless and their property, but can do nothing with the Caltrans owned property. The City has been able to move the homeless to local shelters, and a safe RV parking site. Some of the homeless decided to stay and not relocate. The City of Oakland plans to use the 4.7 million dollar grant from the state to build a 50 unit shelter on privately owned land it leased next to the Caltrans site. At this time it appears that the judge's ruling that Caltrans can't make the homeless relocate until they have a plan in place is delaying efforts to address the serious situation. “In the meantime, Caltrans said the agency will “continue coordinating” with Oakland and the county.
“Caltrans’ responsibility is to ensure the safety of the traveling public and to protect and maintain California’s highway infrastructure,” spokeswoman Janis Mara wrote in an emailed statement. “The court’s temporary order will delay efforts to address the increasingly serious safety risks to life, property and infrastructure at the encampment, including from the recent fire that prompted the closure of the MacArthur Maze” section of the freeway.”
Sonny Nesmith is a senior at Poudre High School and is in his first year at the Poudre Press. Sonny runs Acrylic Arts, a blog based around art curation, creation, supplies, and other tips. Check him out!