Berkeley Mayor Jessie Arreguins newsletter about WDWG is misleading and stupid.
The following is taken directly from a mass community email sent by the mayor's office on October 14th 2021:
Challenges of the Caltrans Encampments
"While the encampments at University/I-80 have been cleared and those residents given opportunities to access shelter and services, this was a gargantuan process that took over a year to complete. If the City had the authority to enter the site ourselves, it would have never gotten to the condition it did. But in reality, the area is owned by Caltrans, and the City cannot get involved with that property without their permission. This was a cause of much frustration for both the City government and our residents.
Under the Boise Decision, people without a home are allowed to camp on public property if there is no other location to go to. However, a court case last month added an additional barrier in our ability to provide shelter to the unhoused. Under Where Do We Go Berkeley v Caltrans, the judge effectively ruled that if an unhoused person refuses services, they must be left alone even if shelter is available. This is why the encampments at Ashby/I-80 have not been able to be resolved. "
I am not sure where to begin, a full statement on this penned by Osha Neumann can be found here
The fact that the Mayor would release this without understanding the facts of the case is disheartening to say the least. The merits on which this case was won was because of an ADA violation. there was no talk of homeless people refusing services and getting to do what they want. If you put a shelter at the top of a flight of stairs and told a person in a wheelchair to sign in at the top they would not be "refusing" they would need a reasonable accommodation. I know we will be another 50 years until disabled rights come anywhere close to adequate and another 50 years after that until mental health issues are a disabling condition that prevent people from functioning in a world designed for people who are "fine".
But Berkeley is essentially the birthplace of the ADA and you bet your ass the local, state, and federal politicians fought tooth and nail to avoid paying for those sidewalk curb cuts which you now see literally everywhere, they told us it couldn't be done and yet here we are.
Don't forget that just because they hold a high position in government doesn't mean someone is telling you all the facts, they have motives and ambitions that can differ from the people who vote from them. They are bound by a culture of systemic racism, ableism, and classism created years before our own country. In that way I feel sorry for them, knowing the difference between right and wrong and yet being bound by their ego and self preservation instincts that they may no longer make rational decisions, they must maintain the status quo laid before them by previous politicians. Yes politics is a game and they must play it even if that means publicly condemning a local non-profit which is completely volunteer run and dedicated to nothing more than helping those who need it most.