The owner of a 4-acre parcel of land in West Oakland began a cleanup process Tuesday so that it can be leased to the city of Oakland, at no cost, for use as a safe RV parking site for the next two or three years, city officials said.
The parcel, which is adjacent to a homeless encampment running along Wood Street, has been inhabited for the past 18 months by campers living in RVs, buses, and other vehicles and structures, according to the city.
The property also has become a dumping ground for abandoned vehicles and large amounts of trash and debris, city officials said.
The site needs to be completely cleared and graded before construction of the safe RV parking facility can begin.
Fencing, electrical service and other amenities will be installed once the land is cleared and graded.
Oakland officials said the campers who currently are living in RVs on the property will be encouraged to join a waiting list to move back onto the property as soon as the new facility opens.
"We are excited about cleaning up the property to allow it to be used to address the homeless crisis that is impacting this community, especially the impact of RVs parked all over West Oakland neighborhoods," Pat Smith, who represents the owner, said in a statement.
Smith said, "The first step is to remove all of the vehicles currently on the property and we have asked the city's Vehicle Abatement Unit for assistance in this process as required under the state vehicle code."
The city said police in the last month have identified 139 vehicles parked illegally on the property that need to be removed.
City officials said more than 100 of those vehicles are in various states of disrepair, including many that have been partially dismantled or are inoperable or appear to have been dumped on the lot.
Outreach workers began contacting campers on the property in August to discuss the plan to convert the area to a safe parking facility, according to the city.
Since then, outreach workers have been offering campers the opportunity to move onto other safe RV parking facilities in Oakland while the construction takes place.
The city said it has made arrangements to avoid impounding vehicles that serve as residences and in recent days it has redoubled its outreach efforts at the site to try to achieve a smooth transition.