OAKLAND — Attendees at this year’s Burger Boogaloo music festival in Oakland’s Mosswood Park will have some neighbors: The park’s homeless residents.
After the controversial eviction of the park’s homeless encampment for last year’s event organizers redrew the festival boundaries to leave the camp as untouched as possible. The change resulted in moving the entrance and scaling down from two stages to one, but according to spokesman Jim DeLuca, it’s worth it.
“Prior to 2018 we rented hotel rooms for the park’s homeless residents,” DeLuca explained. “As the number of homeless in the park and in Oakland grew it became unsustainable. So this year we got into it early, talking to the park manager and the residents to find a way to make it work for everyone.”
DeLuca said that they weren’t aware that Mosswood Park’s management and the Oakland Police Department would be clearing the encampment last year until it was already underway, and as soon as they found out they began working with the Homeless Action Center to help those removed. OPD did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.
The festival is working with the Homeless Action Center again this year, not just to collect donations for outreach and services but on a care village event for the park’s residents this weekend. They plan to provide services like haircuts and showers, necessary supplies like socks and hiking supplies, and even some small luxuries like a makeshift nail salon. But even with the services and the accommodations it’s not ideal.
“Overall I give a lot of credit to [festival organizer] Marc Ribak; he did a lot of communicating to the city and the Mosswood Park director about Burger Boogaloo’s objection to them evicting people,” said Daniel Homer, managing attorney at the Homeless Action Center. “That was a significant move on their part to convince the city to allow the encampment to remain. But it’s still an issue that there’s a giant music festival right next to where people are trying to live. There’s still a negative impact on the people who are there, especially those with physical or mental health issues.”
Attendees are encouraged to treat the park’s residents with respect and intrude as little as possible in their space. Opportunities to donate money and supplies, as well as information on how to help the homeless population through advocacy and other means, will be available at a booth on the festival grounds. But Homer emphasizes that it’s not a festival-specific problem.
“The biggest negative that the people living there are facing is still that they’re homeless and that has nothing to do with Burger Boogaloo. That has to do with the city, the county, and the community’s response to homelessness on a big-picture level.”
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.