albany bulb map

ALBANY -- Residents of a waterfront shantytown are suing to stop the city from expelling them.

Ten homeless residents living at the Albany Bulb, a former construction landfill that juts into San Francisco Bay, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking to halt their looming eviction.

"Basically what we want to be is pretty much left alone," said plaintiff Katherine Cody, 60, who has lived for three years in a home she built beneath eucalyptus and acacia trees. "We lived here quietly and safely for a long time. Everybody takes care of everybody else."

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court demands a temporary restraining order and jury trial, arguing that a forced eviction would deprive them of privacy, property and due process rights.

Even if she and more than 50 other residents have to pack up and leave, Cody said the city, which has no homeless shelter, needs to at least give more time and a better transition.

"They're offering us six months in totally inadequate housing. Fifteen people per trailer," Cody said.

The city plans to set up two modular buildings on the waterfront later this month to house evicted residents, as well as a kennel for about 25 dogs living with them.

After tolerating the sprawling, elaborately organized encampment for years, city leaders plan to begin enforcing a no-camping ordinance that bans anyone from using or entering the Albany Bulb and other recreational areas from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

The enforcement is the first step in a larger city effort to make "The Bulb" part of the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park and transfer its oversight to the East Bay Regional Park District.

Albany spokeswoman Nicole Almaguer declined to say Wednesday when the enforcement would begin, but residents say they fear being kicked off the peninsula as the winter approaches.

Cody, who is terminally ill and slept in a van before she settled in the Bulb, said she will probably sleep on Albany's streets if she is forced to move.

The Bulb, separated from the rest of Albany by Interstate 80, has been used since the 1990s as Albany's "de facto homeless shelter," said lawyer Osha Neumann of the Berkeley-based East Bay Community Law Center, which helped draft the lawsuit.

Most of the current residents are chronically homeless people who found on the remote peninsula a safe place to live, he said.

"All of that is going to be taken away from them," Neumann said. "What they'd love to do is stay there and preserve the place where they've been living. If that can't happen ... they're at least asking for time and asking for resources" in order to find a new home.


Albany Housing Advocates and ten homeless Albany residents have filed a lawsuit against City of Albany
Encampments are seen on the hillside at the Albany Bulb in Albany, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. Some residents of the Bulb and Albany Housing Advocates have filed a lawsuit against the City of Albany. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News)