EXCLUSIVE: San Rafael unhoused man sues next door business over classical music

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
EXCLUSIVE: Bay Area unhoused man sues business over classical music
A Bay Area unhoused man is suing a business next door over classical music.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- For Bruce Gaylord, the past weekend was anything but ideal.

"The first night, I got to bed at 1 a.m.. The second night, I got no sleep during the night. And the third night, Sunday night, I had no way to get any sleep," he said.

Gaylord lives at a homeless encampment in San Rafael.

The reason he says he can't sleep is due to a machine that is set up right next door at the East Bay Tire Company.

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It shouts security warnings and people passing by, and also plays classical music from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

On Monday morning, Gaylord filed a lawsuit against the company to get them to stop with the noise.

"They could place the device someplace else in my opinion," Gaylord said.

East Bay Tire's assistant manager Robbie Derho says the company started using the machine on Friday.

A way to try and deter some of the incidents that he says, spill over from the encampment towards the shop on a regular basis.

"Every morning we're out here picking up garbage and glass and different things, so it's been hard," Derho said.

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The company says they've seen everything from illegal drug use, to prostitution happening at the encampment.

During our visit, Derho even showing us a window cracked by a bullet he says was fired towards the store.

East Bay Tire says the music and the security system is not about driving the folks who live in these encampments out of here though. They tell us it's actually about keeping their employees and customers safe.

"We have guys that get here at 5:30 in the morning. They're all by themselves. We do 24 hour roadside service. The technicians show up in the middle of the night, 3 in the morning, they're alone," Derho said.

To Gaylord though, the machine is dehumanizing.

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A way he says to punish people who are experiencing some of the worst times of their lives.

That's why he says he's determined to see the lawsuit through.

"I'm just a person who has schizoaffective disorder and mental illness. And as you can see, I'm in a wheelchair," said Gaylord.

The East Bay Tire Company says it will turn off the music while the lawsuit plays out.

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