Home Depot attorneys meet with Oakland officials over homeless encampments

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Home Depot's attorneys met with Oakland city officials on Thursday in hopes of hearing solutions to the homeless encampments taking over areas outside their stores.

"They were pleased with the closure of 37th Avenue," Councilman Noel Gallo said. "We talked about the other improvements that need to be made for public health, as far as public safety."

Overall, the meeting could be viewed as good news. Gallo said Home Depot previously gave the city an ultimatum. He said 300 jobs would be put at risk if the stores closed. Margaret Smith, a spokesperson for Home Depot, told ABC7 News the home improvement chain never threatened to leave Oakland.

RELATED: Oakland Home Depot fed up with homeless camp

"Oakland needs to get it together," Gallo said.

A recommendation for an RV Safe Parking lot was made during the meeting with Home Depot. The idea, supported by Mayor Libby Schaaf, would move RVs from the current encampment, to an empty lot across from the Oakland property. Gallo doesn't think it's a good idea.

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"Now you're going to move the problem right across the street to High Street," he said. "On the other side of High Street there are businesses complaining as well."

Gallo said the move would take at least a year.

"Well it takes time," Gallo said. "They gotta develop the other property that belongs to the city."

RELATED: Homeless people building structures under BART tracks raises concerns in Oakland

Ronny Ramirez has lived in the Oakland Home Depot encampment since last June.

"It makes me sad because I like Home Depot," Ramirez said. "They should hire an extra guy to see what the people needs."

RELATED: Oakland's per-capita homeless rate is higher than San Francisco and Berkeley

Steve Knott, regional vice president for The Home Depot, adds, "We appreciate the mayor and Councilmember Gallo taking the time to meet with us and hear our concerns. We look forward to continuing to work with the city to implement a plan that is thoughtful and respectful."

The mayor thanked Home Depot officials for their collaborative approach and ongoing commitment to Oakland residents and the city.

"Home Depot is a valued partner in our community and in this process," she said. "We appreciate their patience and we are taking an approach that is compassionate and sustainable."

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