West Oakland Business Alert
Addressing the Growing Problem of Encampments in Oakland

Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing have reached crisis proportions in Oakland and the greater Bay Area. Solving homelessness and building sufficient housing stock for the City of Oakland and the Bay Area are problems that require long-term and multifaceted solutions.

In the meantime, encampments exist in record numbers, with the vast majority of them in District 3 - primarily in West Oakland. Addressing the crisis of the encampments requires immediate solutions separate from efforts to eradicate homelessness.

The encampments are in immediate need of assistance as they have formed camps without any services, e.g. sanitation, potable water, trash removal, hygiene tools, electricity, etc.

In order to protect the health and safety of everyone, we propose that the City of Oakland establish rules and guidelines under which the encampments can operate.

1. Establish the appropriate size of an encampment.
  • We understand from conversations with City staff that between 40-50 individuals at an encampment is the largest appropriate from a health and safety perspective.
2. Establish a time frame within which the encampment can exist.
  • We propose that encampments be permitted to stay in one location no longer than 90 days.
3. Define acceptable rules to govern the encampments and ensure health and safety - basically create a "Social Contract" we can all agree to live within. We propose the following:
  • No violent/threatening behavior
  • No drug dealing
  • No prostitution/sex trafficking
  • No blocking traffic/the public right of way
  • No blocking driveways and access to local businesses and residences
  • No encouraging illegal dumping in and around encampments
  • No stealing or selling of stolen property
  • No illegal businesses - i.e. chop shops
  • No urination/defecation in the street/storm drains (assuming port-a-potties are available)
4. Post a large sign delineating the "Social Contract" rules above and noting the date when the encampment will be abated at each location.

For these minimum health and safety measures to be successful, we expect the City of Oakland to formulate and enact an enforcement plan.

We further expect that the City of Oakland along with the County of Alameda and other agencies will provide and regularly service:

  • Port-a-potties and handwashing facilities
  • Potable water
  • Bio boxes for needles
  • Garbage containers with regular and frequent pick up
  • Prompt removal of illegally dumped material and hazardous waste;
    support for local businesses willing to help with surveillance
  • Regular and frequent contact with each encampment by the Oakland Police Department and other departments and agencies as appropriate
  • Regular and frequent rodent/vector control to keep the encampmments and the surrounding area free from rats and other pests

Lastly, we ask that the encampment on Wood Street be fully abated immediately. The businesses and residents in the area have been asked to bear the burden of a completely out of control and unsafe environment for way too long.