A three-day restraining order on the clearing of the West Oakland encampment has been extended for a month, as a judge rules that Caltrans must provide residents with relocation plans by August 26 before they can clear any more of the site.
A stunning photo from the Chronicle’s Caron Creighton is seen below, depicting a fraught moment Friday morning: about a half dozen residents of West Oakland's Wood Street encampment, crowded around a laptop showing a Zoom stream of a live court proceeding that would determine whether bulldozers could be arriving within hours to clear their possessions.
Wood Street residents are gathering for the court hearing on their temporary restraining order. The judge has said that CalTrans "may not proceed with" their plan until they have a plan regarding services for people who live here. pic.twitter.com/czOW5puGYo— Caron (@caroncreighton) July 22, 2022
A reported “nearly 90 fires at the site” (including a fatal one in April) have brought Oakland officials' attention to the nearly mile-long encampment with perhaps as many as 300 residents, which sits on land largely owned by Caltrans and the city. Authorities seemed to feel that a July 11 fire was the last straw, so the city started clearing that encampment July 14, with Caltrans also taking up those duties the next day.
Reports on the ground indicated their tactics were a little heavy-handed. But more importantly, a federal judge issued a restraining order Tuesday that halted the clearing. That was only a brief restraining order, and the same judge would decide Friday morning whether the clearing of the site would continue.
During an encampment closure on Wood St last week police arrested a homeless man and an officer tased him— Zack Haber (@ZZZZZZZZZZZack) July 20, 2022
Police say he harmed a city worker/didn't follow commands
Witnesses say the arrest and force was unnecessary and the man wasn't given time to complyhttps://t.co/DG2zcoLcXN
It will not, not for now, at least. The Chronicle reports that U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick continued the restraining order on Caltrans’ efforts. According to Oaklandside, “He set another hearing for Aug. 26,” at which time Caltrans, Oakland, and Alameda County must present a plan to relocate the residents safely before they can resume any clearing of the area.
Judge: Caltrans can't close Wood Street encampment yet https://t.co/lRtMod6yEe— The Oaklandside (@Oaklandside) July 22, 2022
“I understand everybody wants to wash their hands of this particular problem, and that’s not going to happen,” Orrick said on Friday, according to Oaklandside. And he added, to Oakland and Catrans, “It’s clear that you’ve made no progress in coming up with any sort of a plan to address where those folks might be able to stay."
Orrick is certainly correct on that front, the encampment has been there for years. And obviously shelters beds are tough to find in any city, though the city of Oakland got a $4.7 million grant from the state to address the site, so they may be able to use some of those funds.
My understanding is that in the meantime, the city can still evict residents on the portions of Wood Street that are on city land.— Zack Haber (@ZZZZZZZZZZZack) July 22, 2022
Jamilah Jefferson of the City Attorney's office pointed out their land was not included in the initial TRO.
But reporting from Oaklandside contributor Zack Haber indicates that Orrick’s ruling may apply only to the sections owned by Caltrans, not to those owned by the city of Oakland. So this issue may not fade from the headlines over the next month. And as Orrick told Wood Street residents Friday, “The end game is that you’re going to have to move.”
Image: Google Street View