New call to address Oakland homeless camp near Home Depot

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- An Oakland City Councilman is asking the council to take action to clear a homeless encampment near a Home Depot store.

It was a story that ABC7 News first highlighted as part of our "Building A Better Bay Area" franchise.

The homeless camp on Alameda Avenue became so expansive and problematic that Home Depot met with Mayor Libby Schaaf in May to discuss the issues.

On Monday, Oakland city councilman Noel Gallo announced that he wants to close down Alameda Avenue behind the store where the encampment is located, according to a report in The Chronicle.

Gallo's resolution calls for the street to be closed for at least 18 months.

The city council will discuss the plan next week.

The unspoken concern is that the Atlanta-based chain could close their store if things didn't change.

"The biggest issues they have in these encampments are aggressive individuals in these camps and theft," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told ABC 7 News in May. "Let me just be clear... No one deserves the unpleasant impacts of large-scale encampments-- the trash, the blight, the human waste. We need to clean these impacts up while being compassionate."

Schaaf said in May that some of the homeless at the current site could also be offered beds in the city's emergency shelters.

The problems around Home Depot are many and highly visible and they've grown in recent months. Most of the encampment is on city property adjacent to the store's front parking lot. The metal fencing has been cut in various places. Shopping carts and merchandise, apparently stolen, can be seen throughout the camp along with mounds of garbage, tents and various structures, abandoned cars and dozens of RV's both in the camp and out on the street.

Home Depot pays the overtime for two Oakland Police officers to patrol full-time and there are portable security cameras in the parking lot, but still, some shoppers are leary.

"You never know when people are going to approach you and you don't know their intentions," said Maria Alarcon, as she walked to her car in the parking lot. "They may be well-intended but you really don't know because they are very aggressive sometimes."

In May, Margaret Smith, an Atlanta-based spokesperson for Home Depot told ABC7 News in a statement, "We appreciate the mayor taking time to meet with us and to hear our concerns. We'll continue to work with the city to find solutions as quickly as possible."

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