City of San Rafael
March 10, 2023
Update on Campsites at Albert Park and Temporary Restraining Order Issued by the District Court
This message provides an update to our community on Albert Park. Yesterday, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California issued a Temporary Restraining Order which prohibits the City from enforcing its no camping ordinance at the park until further order of the Court. The City is responding to the order. The City looks forward to hosting the annual Little League Opening Day event next weekend at the park and is taking additional steps for the health, safety and welfare of our community during this event.
Albert Park is one of three community (multi-neighborhood serving) parks in San Rafael, and the only one located within close proximity to the downtown corridor. Albert Park currently has more than 20 individuals experiencing homelessness occupying the park. The campsites are causing adverse health and safety, and nuisance conditions in the park; are creating conflicts with park users; and are obstructing public use of the property for its intended purpose as a community park and recreational facility. Seasonal openings of Albert Park’s ballfields, tennis courts, playground, and bocce ball court for community, school, Little League, Pacifics Baseball Club, and other recreational uses will draw thousands of visitors to the park.
Beginning February 21st, the City issued notices to the individuals camping at the park, ordering them to vacate and relocate no later than March 13th at 7 a.m. The campers are violating the City’s ordinance prohibiting camping in the City’s public parks. This notice was intended to give the occupants almost three weeks of notice and time to clear the park. Since that date, the City and its service providers have been performing daily outreach to the campers to connect them with available shelter and temporary storage options for their personal belongings to aid them with their relocations.
At its March 6th meeting, the City Council also adopted a resolution absolutely prohibiting camping at this park. The City Council heard from many concerned parents of the Parkside Preschool and Children’s Center and community members who expressed their concern for the health, safety and welfare of children using the park.
On the afternoon of March 9th, eight individuals who claim to be camping at Albert Park filed a complaint against the City in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. The complaint requested a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting the City from clearing the campsites at the park as scheduled on March 13th due to the severe weather forecasted for this weekend. The City responded later that day with a notice of intent to file an opposition, which also informed the Court that the City had decided to delay the clearing until March 15th when the weather is forecasted to clear. Ten minutes later, presumably without seeing the City’s filing, the Court granted the plaintiffs’ Temporary Restraining Order and set a hearing for March 20th. The Court reasoned that the scheduled enforcement during the storm surge may place the occupants “in danger by forcing them to move during severe weather.”
All of the individuals who could be located by City staff camping at Albert Park on March 8th and 9th were offered a bed and warm meal at the emergency shelter prior to the storm surge. None of them agreed to move to the shelter. City staff and our service providers continue to work with these individuals to encourage them to move into shelter that is available to them.
Due to the Court’s order, the City will be unable to clear campsites from the park at this time, pending outcome of the March 20th hearing. The annual Little League Opening Day event at Albert Park is scheduled for March 18th. City staff will work with the Little League event managers to minimize onsite conflicts between the campers and the event attendees, and make the park as healthy and safe as possible for everyone, including providing additional site cleaning and event security.
The City will continue to update the community as this situation develops.