East Bay homeless individuals sue Caltrans for allegedly illegally seizing and destroying their property

OAKLAND (BCN) — A coalition of East Bay homeless individuals and advocates sued Caltrans in Alameda County Superior Courtroom in Oakland at present, accusing the company of illegally seizing and destroying property throughout sweeps of homeless encampments.

The plaintiffs embrace 4 individuals who have camped on Caltrans property in Oakland and one who lived underneath the Interstate 580 overpass on Gilman Road in Berkeley.

They declare that Caltrans and its employees typically filter out encampments with insufficient discover, deceptive discover or no discover after which typically destroy homeless individuals’s property in trash compactors with out giving them an opportunity to maneuver it.

The destroyed property consists of gadgets wanted for survival, akin to clothes, drugs, tents, bedding, and private papers, in response to the lawsuit.

“Homeless people are capable of possess little or no in the best way of private property,” the lawsuit says.

“However due to their plight, the few possessions they do have are crucial to those people’ well being, wellbeing and any hope they’ve of discovering the secure shelter that so many individuals take as a right,” it contends.

4 of the homeless plaintiffs say their administrative claims to Caltrans for his or her property have been denied and the fifth says he was by no means capable of attain anybody at a phone quantity posted by Caltrans.

The opposite plaintiffs within the case are the Homeless Motion Middle, the Western Regional Advocacy Undertaking and two Alameda County volunteers who work with homeless individuals.

The lawsuit is predicated on claims of violations of the federal and state constitutional rights to due means of regulation and freedom from unreasonable seizures, in addition to violations of state legal guidelines.

The lawsuit seeks to be licensed as a category motion on behalf of all homeless individuals in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville who’ve had property seized and destroyed by Caltrans prior to now two years.

The doc says the plaintiffs’ legal professionals have no idea how many individuals can be within the class, however they do know that at the very least fifty five individuals have had property claims denied or not acted upon by Caltrans prior to now yr.

The go well with asks for monetary compensation for sophistication members who’ve misplaced property and for a statewide injunction halting the alleged practices by the company.

The plaintiffs’ legal professionals are from a number of authorized teams, together with the ACLU, which launched a press release from plaintiff James Leone, fifty six, of Oakland.
Leone is a mechanic who turned homeless in 2010 after being laid off from his job.

The lawsuit says his belongings have been seized and destroyed twice, most lately in April, when Caltrans staff allegedly threw away his tent, a down sleeping bag, all his clothes, his mechanic’s device set and a household photograph album.

“I don’t need to be homeless on the streets of Oakland ceaselessly,” Leone stated within the assertion.

“Caltrans has been a serious impediment to getting my life collectively. Twice in six years, I’ve been left with solely the garments on my again. Twice I’ve misplaced every little thing I personal on the earth,” he stated. Caltrans spokesman Robert Haus stated he couldn’t remark particularly on the lawsuit and its allegations.

However generally phrases, he stated, “Our coverage is to submit a discover three days forward of time.”

An image of the discover with a time stamp is taken, he stated. If Caltrans staff see gadgets that look like value $50 or extra, the company holds on to the gadgets for 30 days. The discover has a telephone quantity telling individuals the place to name about their gadgets, Haus stated.

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