Uncertainty looms for Berkeley Marina RV campers amid evacuative efforts to reduce criminal activity

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Amanda Ramirez/Staff

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Over the past few days, Berkeley police have been contacting RV dwellers along Marina Boulevard to tell them to vacate or risk being towed for violating city ordinances.

This is a part of a concerted effort to reduce criminal activity in the area. According to Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Frankel, no citations have been issued at this time, and for the time being, officers patrolling the area have been directed to only cite for specific vehicle code violations or criminal activity.

“We’ve had a number of auto break-ins and auto burglaries in the marina,” Frankel said. “There’s also been threats made against our community members who reside in the Berkeley Marina and city staff.”

Frankel cited previous incidents in West Berkeley, in which business owners attributed flooding to illegal dumping by campers in storm drains. He declined to comment as to when evacuation enforcement and towing would begin.

The city will not be providing alternative places for these residents to park, according to Frankel.

“One cop said, ‘One day you’re gonna come back and your trailer’s not gonna be here,’ ” said David Marcial, who has resided in his RV along Marina Boulevard for close to a year. “We’re just trying to survive.”

Eleven years ago, Marcial became disabled after falling off a third-story building working in Berkeley.

Marcial added that he would be willing to pay $100 to $200 a month to the city to retain his spot along the marina.

“We just want them to leave us alone,” Marcial said.

Amber Lynn Whitson has been parked by the marina “off and on” since October. She and her neighbors were “red-tagged” late Sunday night by police for violating Berkeley traffic ordinance B.M.C. 14.36.050, which “prohibits parking on the street for 72 or more consecutive hours.”

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According to Whitson, she was told by the issuing officer that she had to be gone by Tuesday morning, in a mere 48 hours.

“This is one of the most peaceful encampments I’ve ever lived (in),” Whitson said. “The cops never come here. But when they came on Sunday they said we were a ‘strain on city resources.’ But otherwise they definitely don’t stop by here or follow up.”

Whitson added that “all walks of life” reside along the marina, including both a UC Berkeley student and an instructor who she has seen grade papers in his RV.

“I think if the city was just willing to communicate with us directly, we would work with them,” Whitson said.

If she is forced to evacuate, Whitson stressed that she has no plans as to where she would go.

Jared Brewer covers crime and courts. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @JaredBBrewer.