Liberal Progressives claiming to be inclusive, suffer from NIMBY when it comes to homeless encampments in Oakland, California.
Oakland: a “city with its own personality” according to www.visitoakland.com. Many who live here consider themselves liberals and progressives. If you ask me, Oakland is a city of multiple personality disorders. Liberal progressives claim they want “inclusion” and “housing for all” but have suffered from being NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard). They have driven the homeless encampments to areas nowhere near them and towards areas where wealth is less concentrated.
In an article in the East Bay Times, writer Robert Gammon states:
“Most of us are disgusted by President Trump’s efforts to target undocumented immigrants and break apart families. We detest his divisive and racist rhetoric and we despise his reactionary plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.”
But when it comes to welcoming newcomers to our own neighborhoods, our inclusiveness has a definite limit. On a macro-scale, we understand that the Bay Area has an extreme housing shortage. Polls have repeatedly shown that supermajorities of area residents agree that we need to build more. But that support turns into opposition if the new housing directly impacts our “quality of life,” our ability to nab a parking spot or avoid traffic.”
In other words, we like to sound good at cocktail parties but we don’t want to be inconvenienced.
I live in a fairly affluent neighborhood in Oakland. Within a couple of blocks from our residence lie overpasses of a major freeway. This area is now populated with many homeless encampments which have been given the green light to stay. Our bleeding heart friends who have not allowed encampments near their own home have decided to satiate their guilt by giving the “campers” brand new tents, food, clothing, and other items so that the campers could comfortably stay put. More people means more trash which has made the sidewalks impassable. Oakland has also set up a needle exchange program which has made the sidewalks a hazardous waste site. People must now gingerly make their way around bags of foul smelling refuse; have had to pick used syringes out of their shoes and slide on piles of human waste. What was once a sidewalk is now a restroom, landfill and a medical waste site. Crime is on the rise as “campers” break into garages, steal bicycles and then create a makeshift chop shop for used cycling parts.
The sidewalks being utilized by encampments are located in major thoroughfares from Jack London to one of two BART (Bay Areas Rapid Transit) stations. Most living in Jack London square work in San Francisco and rely on BART to get us there. As a result, commuters have been forced to walk through these areas, stepping around feces and urine puddles and used needles. This is in addition to having to deal with aggressive, drug-fueled behavior from some of the campers.
Many residents of this area have begged for help to get these areas cleaned up and to be given access to the major corridors. I, myself, have written letters to city leaders, made a claim to the ADA and have tried to organize a group with solutions to present to our city leaders. Much of the time, when using a public forum to rally other residents, I am faced with pushback from our liberal friends who tell me I should clam up because I am “privileged” (THE most overused word in the Bay Area). This is just a small example of what I face when trying to create action on the new communication website known as Next Door.
It seems like a losing battle, as our own mayor has not offered much in the way of help. According to some of the Oakland Police officers they have been ordered by mayor Schaffer that they are NOT remove the resident’s or any of their belongings, which are truly just an extraordinary amount of trash. She even suggested that those of us with an extra room offer it to one of these encampment dwellers, as can be seen in an article by Mercury News.
Our mayor is the biggest NIMBY of them all. Nothing will improve if she can’t “see” the problem. Trust me, there isn’t an encampment anywhere near her residence.
Featured Photo: View of a homeless encampment in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 18, 2017. Photo Credit: Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group