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Longstanding 'Here There' encampment cleared by Berkeley city officials

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After a nearly seven-year protest on the green space, the "Here There" encampment was cleared away on Tuesday.


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FEBRUARY 02, 2023

Berkeley city officials cleared away the longstanding “Here There” encampment on Adeline Street on Tuesday, putting a halt to the camp’s nearly seven year-long protest on the green space.

Despite being largely considered a “model camp,” according to Berkeley’s Vice Mayor Ben Bartlett, the encampment had its closure expedited by recent mounting health concerns, namely its increasing rodent population. Last Friday, an Environmental Health Division inspection deemed the location an “imminent health hazard” pursuant to Berkeley municipal code, according to assistant to the City Manager Peter Radu.

“It was an increasingly dangerous and inhumane place for people to be,” Radu said. “In December, we started planning for this closure, and we set aside our entire allocation of our annual Alameda county funding for winter shelter vouchers.”

City officials determined that there were six permanent encampment residents at the time of its closure and said they were all successfully relocated to a local motel, along with being offered vouchers for up to 60 day-stays, Radu noted.

During that time, Radu says the city will try to connect residents to the “coordinated entry” system, a process within the city’s Homelessness Response System that assesses the situations of unhoused people and tries to provide them with housing and other resources.

“The reason why this encampment has been there for six years is because we do follow the law in regards to how folks are able to leave the encampments, which includes the fact that we have to provide them options for housing and options for services,” said James Chang, Bartlett’s chief of staff.

The encampment was erected in 2017 as a protest against the city’s alleged lack of resources for unhoused residents, according to former encampment resident Slum Jack.

It functioned as a community, with established internal and external rules to abide by, and even had utilities such as an outhouse and electricity powered by solar panels, Slum Jack said.

“The problem with this camp is, it is arguably, demonstrably, the best-running camp within the city limits of Berkeley in most regards, and they didn’t just get rid of these people’s shelter. They removed a camp that could be an important resource for everybody who’s out there tonight in the cold,” Slum Jack said.

Radu said outreach with the encampment’s residents began Jan. 9, with formal written notices of the impending closure posted on Jan. 27 in and around the encampment. It is standard practice to give residents at least 72 hours notice before closure, Radu noted.

Julio Lee, a former encampment resident who was present at the time of its closure, noted that while he was given several days’ notice to leave, Tuesday’s cleanup efforts were swift, resulting in the loss of many of Lee’s personal belongings. Lee was in the process of relocating his three emotional support animals to the local motel during the cleanup.

Lee said he lost thousands of dollars’ worth of art supplies as the excavators tore down the remaining tents before he could retrieve his belongings. He said he was offered compensation in terms of a Blick Art Materials gift card, but noted it was not enough to cover his expenses.

“It’s kind of tough to think about,” Lee said. “I lost a lot of stuff I wish I hadn’t.”

Contact Natasha Kaye at 


FEBRUARY 03, 2023