Sandwiched in the middle of a marathon seven hour Oakland City Council meeting last Tuesday, Oakland District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo dropped a bit of a bombshell on those in attendance and streaming online.
Gallo noted that Home Depot is considering closing their Oakland and Emeryville stores citing the blighted conditions caused by the sprawling homeless encampments nearby. Gallo’s District includes the Alameda Avenue Home Depot in East Oakland.
“To the city administrator, we need your support and assistance at Home Depot. They just sent me another letter stating that if we don’t deal with the homeless issue and the blight that surrounds their property, that they’re going to leave the City of Oakland,” Gallo stated at the April 16th Oakland City Council meeting [1:16:26].
Gallo also noted that they were considering closing the Emeryville store that sits on Oakland’s border and has similar issues with camps and blight. “We gotta get to it otherwise we’re going to lose 300 jobs and $8 million in tax [revenue].”
The conditions surrounding the Emeryville store have gotten progressively worse over the past several years. AC Transit has had to alter their routes to avoid the piles of debris and crossing camp occupants. There have been frequent fires including a series of small explosions from propane tanks last June that rattled the area.
Complicating the issue is that while it is clearly impacting Emeryville, the jurisdiction is shared with Caltrans and the City of Oakland. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and 2018 Emeryville Mayor John Bauters announced last December that the two cities were “collaborating” to tackle the issue. The City of Emeryville will be providing $72K and 11 modular homes to be used at a yet undetermined location.
Despite it being a high priority for residents, regional leaders have failed to come up with a comprehensive plan to tackle homelessness in our area. The Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute recently published an alarming study noting a $12.7 Billion dollar price tag to shelter and service the estimated 28,200 homeless people in our region.
The Emeryville/Oakland location is a highly trafficked store and a hub for local contractors. If Home Depot were to indeed vacate in tandem with the recent loss of OSH on Ashby, it would leave our city without nearby hardware “superstore”.
Behind Emeryville’s big-box stores, homeless people live in horrifying conditions. No one should have to live like this, particularly in the wealthy San Francisco Bay Area. #homelessness #housingcrisis #California #BayArea #oakland #emeryville pic.twitter.com/8Oj6NFrXyP
— Kate Didech (@khaighty) August 13, 2018
Gallo provided no timeline for Home Depot’s departure or the severity of their threats. We’ve reached out to his office to obtain a copy of the letter.
April 21st update: NBC Bay Area produced a video segment with an interview with Councilmember Gallo and the below screen capture of the letter from Home Depot regional Vice President Steven Knott.
In the letter, Knott notes that the Oakland store “suffers from some of the most frequent occurrence of malicious theft” of the 2000 stores countrywide and the “enormous negative impact to the associate’s safety and morale.”
Knott extends the offer to “partner” with the city and encourages the relocation of the occupants to a viable location within the city.
We have updated this story to include the blurb about the two elected officials commitment to work together on the situation and a map of The Home Depot property that shows how the border bisects the store and the encampments.