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Nine people stand in the rain, in a playground, all facing the camera and smiling, some with ponchose or hoods.

With city services lacking, residents clean up Raimondi Park, future home of B’s baseball

on March 20, 2024

On a rainy Saturday morning in February, Josh Gunter organized the cleanup equipment for the day ahead — buckets and trash-pickers, elastic gloves and trash bags, coffee and water.

Then he waited for volunteers from Friends of Raimondi Park to arrive for the monthly cleanup event. 

Gunter was among more than a dozen residents who braved the weather that morning to pick up trash, rake and sweep. Friends of Raimondi Park, one of the many groups participating in Oakland’s “Adopt a Spot” program, does those chores every third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to noon, welcoming newcomers.

“I kind of was just concerned about some of the illegal dumping issues we have and some of the trash issues we have,” said Gunter, who co-founded the group. “And it just seemed like a really easy way to help at least a little bit with the park.” 

Raimondi Park, at 18th and Wood streets in West Oakland, has ball fields, a playground, patches of grass and paths that on weekends fill up with strollers, dog-walkers and giggling children. Dedicated in 1947, the park is named in honor of Ernie Raimondi, a minor league baseball player who grew up in Oakland and was killed in World War II. Soon it will become the home of the Oakland Ballers professional baseball team. 

The park’s location, however, makes it particularly prone to illegal dumping. Situated near an exit of Interstate 880 near one of the city’s recently dismantled encampments, Raimondi is an eyesore at times. On this day, discarded items include shopping carts, suitcases, a wheelchair and a dirty mattress.

A man in a black hoodie, hood up, and a yellow reflective smock over it stands in a playground bside a pile of rakes, trash-picking poles and a table covered with a green tarp, under which is a box of garden gloves.
Josh Gunter, a co-founder of Friends of Raimondi Park” gets ready for a cleanup in February. (Negar Ajayebi)

If not for the illegal dumping, the park would be much easier to keep clean, said Michael Corzo, co-founder of Friends of Raimondi Park. 

“So we have people coming from San Francisco. We have people coming from Richmond. We have people coming south, and we have people coming east,” he said. “And all of them come to this freeway and dump all around this area. And as soon as they dump their trash, they return to the freeway.”

Through the Adopt a Spot program, Friends of Raimondi Park can borrow tools from the city, which technically is responsible for the park. Volunteers can snag loose trash, but some of the bigger dumped objects are beyond their capability, said Robin Freeman, a frequent user of the park who signed up with the group after seeing an Instagram post.

“That’s more of a city and government thing,” Freeman said.

In 2020, Oakland voters approved Measure Q, a parcel tax to supplement many city services, including parks and recreation, which receives nearly two-thirds of the measure’s annual revenue. The Park, Recreation & Youth Development budget increased by 22% as a result. In the current budget year, Measure Q money makes up the bulk of the $28 million going toward maintaining parks and recreational facilities. 

A recent city audit found that Oakland has underspent Measure Q revenue, which had a fund balance of nearly $22 million as of June 30. While the measure was meant to support equitable park maintenance, address homelessness in parks, and improve water quality by reducing litter, the audit noted, “We found that the City did not have a baseline to assess the effectiveness of Measure Q funds in reaching its parks or homelessness goals, and park visits show ongoing maintenance issues and encampments at parks.”

The report recommended better performance measures that would allow managers to identify substandard facilities, especially in neighborhoods where disparities exist.

Oakland officials did not answer Oakland North’s questions about park resources, funding and staffing.

On a wet sidewalk, beside a pole sit about half a dozen full trash bags.
Friends of Raimondi Park picked up 320 gallons of trash during its February cleanup. (Negar Ajayebi)

Ryan Louglin volunteers at Raimondi and at other parks because he believes the city isn’t being neglectful, just that it doesn’t have the resources to keep the parks clean. At another park, he said, volunteers used the city’s 311 system to ask for trees to be pruned. A year later, they are still waiting.

“And so neighbors step in to fill in the gaps, which is the way to stand it,” he said.

Change may be on the horizon. The Ballers, also known as the B’s, have a $1.6 million upgrade planned for Raimondi, where the team expects to play 48 games. Though the B’s are supposed to make their debut in June, there was no sign of the promised work on that rainy February Saturday. 

By day’s end, Friends of Raimondi Park had collected 320 gallons of trash. The park looked tidy and fresh and you could hear birds chirping and kids cheering on the soccer field.

Getting involved

Friends of Raimondi Park will hold an Earth Day cleanup from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 20. More information is at

This story was updated to correct the spelling of Michael Corzo’s last name.

‘Without volunteers, this park would burn down’: Groups work to reduce fire risk in Oakland.


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