Crews from Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol descended on the intersection of University Avenue and Frontage Road near the Berkeley Marina Thursday around 9 a.m. to remove trash, including discarded belongings from a homeless encampment on the site, that had been piling up for weeks.
The move came after Berkeleyside reported on the issue on Jan. 18. At the time, Caltrans spokeswoman Rocquel Johnson said that a clean-up was scheduled for Jan. 24-25.
The crews used a backhoe loader to remove the trash and were there until around 2 p.m., according to Pixie, a young woman who said she has lived with her husband at the encampment for about a year.
“They arrived and told us we had five minutes to move our shit,” she said Thursday after the crews had left. She described the encounter as unfriendly and said the way the crews had excavated the spots where the garbage had accrued made those areas uninhabitable.
She said those who live there don’t like being threatened. “We may not have homes but we are residentially challenged.”
Johnson confirmed that the agency had completed a clean-up of the on/off ramps at University Avenue. The agency had posted a notification at the site that told of a scheduled clean-up on state right-of-way, she said.
“The clean-up normally will take place after 72 hours from the date of posting,” she said. “If someone has personal items on state right-of-way, and the site has been posted, they should immediately remove those personal belongs.”
Johnson added that she understood that most of the items found Thursday were “associated with an illegal encampment.”
Pixie said the garbage included items that those living in the tents had discarded, and they did not have anywhere to store or get rid of belongings.
However last week Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín said he believed the presence of the encampment invited dumping trash.
“A lot of the trash you see is not necessarily the result of homeless people,” he said, adding that he would like to see more measures to prevent dumping, such as extra cameras, signage and clean-up crews.