Making It in the Bay

Trailer Park Community in Oakland Faces Uncertain Future

NBC Universal, Inc.

A group of Oakland residents say they have a lease and they pay rent on time, but despite all that, the city may soon kick them out of their homes.

That's because the group lives in a makeshift and unpermitted trailer park on a private lot, and that doesn't work with the city's zoning rules.

Six years ago, Adam Garrett-Clark spotted the empty lot in West Oakland and reached out to the owner with a plan: let us lease and live on your land.

"These are instant studio apartments," he said. "These are movable studio apartments. It's actually accessible and affordable to the average person."

Today, five people live in the community. Rent is $600 a month.

"We have women here," Garrett-Clark said. "We have trans folks here."

While Nataly Perez said she enjoys living in the community because it lessens her carbon footprint and it doesn’t drain her wallet, the community’s next-door neighbor said he’s lodged multiple complaints to the city.

"They have an open pit shower that the city hasn't addressed," Scott, the neighbor, said. "So, right next to my foundation there is an open pit shower."

Scott’s other grievance is the porta-potty outside of his window.

"That’s pretty unpleasant," he said. "I’m sure that you wouldn’t like two portalets right next to your window. This is the way that the breeze comes."

Garrett-Clark said the city has fined the landowner up to $5,000.

"The zoning law that says that you can’t have an RV parked here, why? This is a perfect space for an RV park," Garrett-Clark said.

Garrett-Clark said the city has given the community until Thursday to move out, which he has since appealed.

"If the city wants to throw up a bunch of high-rises and make those actually affordable, that’s great," Garrett-Clark said. "But until they do that, let people create their own housing."

NBC Bay Area reached out to the city for comment but didn't immediately hear back.

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