Ohlone Park Problems

Sasha Futran
Tuesday November 17, 2015 - 09:36:00 AM

In response to Alejandro Soto-Vigil “Practical Solutions to Problems of Homelessness,” I am in complete agreement that solutions to the problem need a thoughtful approach and that there are too few resources in Berkeley. 

The reprinted list of suggestions made at one of the meetings addressing the problems of the homeless in Ohlone Park that overflows into the neighborhood contains ideas both practical and not. The problem of the ever-growing homeless population in Berkeley doesn’t lend itself to facile and simplistic solutions. 

However, here’s the bottom line sentiment that came out of our neighborhood meetings: We need our park back for the use it was intended. We also need the surrounding neighborhood back and civil for those of us residing there. 

We’ve had enough of needles found scattered about, watching drug deals going down, observing bike “chop shops” and parts being sold. We’re tired of sometimes being threatened or dealing with people screaming in foul language at no one in particular. We want to be done with listening to and watching fights. The human feces, garbage, and abandoned belongings aren’t wanted.  

We’re tired of all that in our park, in front of our homes, and on our property as the behavior spills into the surrounding neighborhood. 

The wave of neighborhood break-ins in have to stop. 

Ohlone is a narrow park and backs up directly on homes. It was built by the city with a tot playground, exercise equipment, basketball court, soccer and baseball playing fields, community garden, and a dog park. It is used by all ages.  

We need to be safe there once again and in our neighborhood. The park needs to be used as intended by the city when created. 

One thing that became clear at the meetings -- that included city personnel providing service to the homeless-- is that there is a large homeless population in Berkeley and few staff or resources. That is a problem that needs to be dealt with and will take time and cost money. 

In the meantime, we need the problems at Ohlone Park and the immediate neighborhood resolved and safety reestablished. Enforcing existing law is a good place to start.