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Pedestrians crowded off Oakland sidewalk by growing homeless camp

Homeless encampment in Oakland has neighbors anxious
Homeless encampment in Oakland has neighbors anxious 03:21

OAKLAND -- Neighbors can no longer use a stretch of the sidewalk on E. 8th Street, near Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland.

A car was parked on the sidewalk. A tent was also set up, along with other items, that blocked pedestrians from passing through. Pedestrians who live nearby have to walk out into the street to get to and from their homes.

"The kids who are walking to school have to get off the sidewalk because they can't go through. It's the only sidewalk since there isn't one on the other side of the street," said Hector Hugo.

Hugo worried a car could hit his wife and their two little girls when they were walking in the street.

Neighbors and business owners said it started out with one RV a few months ago but the problem grew over time. A second RV and a couple of cars have since parked on East 8th street between Fruitvale Avenue and 34th Avenue. Residents fear it could soon look like neighboring E. 9th Street, which is filled with RVs and people living in cars.

"I think, on Thursday, we went past that tipping point. It was really bad," said Everardo Rodriguez, owner of Bay Restorators.

Rodriguez said that, on Thursday, someone vandalized a stolen or abandoned car on the street by throwing a wooden pallet on its hood. Cellphone footage also showed a person using a rock to break the driver-side window.

A short time later, Rodriguez said, a homeless man walked out with what appeared to be an ax in his right hand to confront someone.

"I'm beyond frustrated. I'm beyond disappointed. I'm beyond angry," Rodriguez said.

City Hall has been notified but no one has cleared the encampment.

"It goes beyond atrocious. It's deliberate. How can the city not act to eliminate this?" Rodriguez asked.

One man whose uncle lives in a car on the street said he will tell them to clear out the sidewalk so families can use it.

"I'll make sure that get cleared up. You're right, kids need to walk by for their safety," said the man who gave his name as King.

King said RV dwellers don't want to cause problems but they have nowhere else to go.

"It's not the homeless people bringing the trash, destroying these businesses and abandoning all these cars," King said.

Councilman Noel Gallo met with Rodriguez over the safety concerns. Gallo says the city is working to clear the RVs on both E. 8th and E. 9th Streets.

"That's on the 'clear list.' They've got to go. This guy that started (the encampment), he's from Missouri. (That person came from) Canada. (People from) all over the country coming into Oakland because we're allowing that behavior to happen," Gallo said.

Neighbors hope the city will act fast.

"This cannot continue because it puts our life in jeopardy," Rodriguez said.

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