The glittering Lake Merritt is a popular spot for affluent families to spend weekends, surrounded by luxury homes and the expensive offices of major tech companies.
Just a few blocks away, people living in squalid tents are begging the local council to stop throwing their battered possessions into garbage trucks, as the police calmly look on.
This is normality in Oakland, California, one of the most dangerous cities in the Golden State and victim of a rapidly widening wealth divide created by Silicon Valley.
Myron Fason, aka rapper Auk5, found himself sleeping rough within weeks of his arrival in California from Wisconsin, aged 23, to pursue a music career. After he lost a job working in a restaurant kitchen, there was no way he and his girlfriend could afford a home.
"I went through the rough, the Bay Area thing … sleeping under bridges and going through hell trying to get in somewhere in the community," he tells news.com.au.
Myron, now 30, eventually found a backyard where he could pitch a tent between two squats. Around 15 people were living there, including a few sleeping outside on the ground in just sleeping bags.
He and his partner began dumpster diving, visiting soup kitchens to find food and "spanging" [spare changing] for money. "The homeless community taught us how to get given money," he says. "You stand in certain places and ask for money, they give you money because they know you're homeless because of where you're standing."
One of his biggest challenges was keeping his girlfriend out of sex work. "A big part of Oakland is pimping, pimping women, and a lot of people were always trying to get her," he says. "That was a big issue actually, that was one of he biggest issues I dealt with, my ex-girlfriend — people were always trying to manipulate her or manipulate me so they could get her."
A recent viral video showed a topless male jogger, smartphone strapped to his arm, chucking a homeless person's blankets and belongings into the shining lake, as passers-by begged him to stop.
Another showed a white woman approach a black couple preparing for their usual weekend lakeside cookout to tell them she was calling the police over their trespassing. "Y'all going to jail," she told the pair, in footage that sparked a mass protest called #BBQingWhileBlack.
The lake is surrounded by ever-growing tent cities, which extend into the city beyond, below underpasses and outside the Warriors stadium, where people pay from $250 to $10,000 a ticket. Living in a makeshift shelter is the best option for an increasing number of people.
"I at least had places to cook food, places to shower once I managed to get in with the community," says Myron.
"They were a radically alternative community and that place had chickens, they had a garden, they had a lot going on and they let me set up my tent in the back."
Myron managed to escape life on the streets after around a year and now lives in Los Angeles, where he's been working in kitchens, producing art and music, and still fighting to be able to afford a comfortable life.
Sikander Iqbal used to visit Lake Merritt all the time as a child, when it was little more than a swamp, but now the ostentatious wealth in the area makes the violence prevention worker uneasy.
"It just started attracting a lot of the transplants," he tells news.com.au. "It's slightly traumatising, you're going to places where you grew up or that you've been around a lot. I know if I go to these places I'm going to see people I haven't seen in a long time, all from the city or around the city, and now if I go, I don't recognise almost anybody when I go, unless there's some kind of special event going on. So that's kind of sad. My approach to it is to avoid."
The Community and Youth Outreach Oakland deputy director says he is disturbed to see the tent cities spreading with each passing year. "It's just all over, every underpass, even close by where we work — that's been a long-term popular place — but never like this, this s**t is just f***ing ridiculous."
The lake has become a symbol of the inequality that has plagued the Bay Area for years, but only seems to be getting worse.
One in 12 people in Oakland was at risk of falling victim to a crime in 2017, and the city has a higher murder rate than troubled San Francisco, with 20 reported homicides per 100,000 individuals, as well as 65.2 rapes, 723.8 robberies, and 616.7 aggravated assaults for every 100,000 people in 2016.
While the city has improved its crime rates in recent years, the majority of the top 10 most dangerous Californian cities are satellite towns close by — Stockton, Modesto, Vallejo, Richmond.
"Rental costs have tripled in the last few years in the Bay Area," Mission for the Homeless director Michael Meadows tells news.com.au. "The gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen.
"We can only help a small fraction of this problem."
The City of Oakland has a population of 424,000 and 2700 people living on the streets last year — up by 600. It has now started acquiring empty lots and constructing small sheds for its thousands of homeless, to help them transition off the streets. Council member Rebecca Kaplan wants to see designated spaces marked out for tent cities, so people won't have their belongings dumped in front of their eyes.
"Oakland, and our entire region, are facing growing levels of displacement, and with more and more people being unable to afford housing, we are seeing high levels of homelessness, tent encampments, and human suffering," she said.
"I am advocating that Oakland launch a new alternative to the tent encampments, which are currently in a lose-lose situation. Vast amounts of taxpayer dollars are being wasted, shoving homeless people from one underpass to the next underpass, in a way that causes human hardship, costs money, but does not solve the problem and does not get people into more appropriate locations."
Sikander, who works with young people to prevent violence and reoffending, says he can't talk about all the trauma he's seen because, "You don't want me to cry on tape."
As we pass endless tent cities dotted all over the city, he adds: "This is people's pain."
He believes nobody raised a flag about the problems gentrification could cause for two reasons. "One, it hadn't really reached a tipping point so no alarms were really set off. I think once it reached a tipping point, it started impacting more of the lower middle and middle class folks.
"When it was just the really poor people, they usually have the smallest voices basically, which is its own problem."
The other issue, says Sikander, is that non-whites are being priced out into the suburban cities and losing their power in numbers.
"Outside of the Bay Area and LA, I think almost every county voted for Trump, they're very Republican, conservative counties," he says. "It's easier to address that stuff when it hits you and you can push it rather than saying, we need to convince these people that are not impacted by these issues to help us out."
Heather Freinkel, managing attorney at the Homeless Action Center, tells news.com.au sleeping outside is illegal in some places, so people are committing a "crime" by being too poor to afford to live in a home.
They are also more likely to have property stolen or be killed by drunk or speeding drivers.
"Housing is so expensive in the San Francisco Bay Area that even most people who work at a fulltime job can't afford the rent," she says.
"Rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2000 [$2882] a month. That means that people who are retired, those with disabilities, and families with children can't afford market rate housing. There is a great deal of construction going on, but it's all to build more market-rate, expensive luxury housing.
"We are seeing families lose homes that they have owned for generations due to foreclosure or predatory developers who buy at a low price, do some superficial remodelling, and 'flip' or sell the property soon after to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in a time-span of three to six months.
"Many people who have a physical or mental health disability face barriers to applying for and receiving disability benefits because of their impairments. The Social Security Administration denies most disability claims at least once, and often applicants must go before a judge to be determined to be disabled and eligible for benefits.
"Even after a client is awarded disability benefits, they only get US$910 [$1310] per month (or $1440 if they are homeless). In other states, the benefit amounts are even lower. That is not enough to pay rent, so many of our clients receive disability benefits but remain homeless.
"The number of people in need of affordable housing is far greater than the number of affordable units that are available. Most people sign up for waiting lists and wait for years before they even get a chance to apply for a specific affordable unit."
Locals tell me even they are afraid to go out on the street after the sun goes down. "It's got worse and worse. I see tent cities everywhere," says Uber driver Rasem.
"You see it in India. People who are born, raised and died on the sidewalk — it's the same thing in America. Right across the sidewalk from them.
"The idea of America is this rich, happy life, but when you look and see how they are treated. They are homeless, sick, but nobody cares, not even the Government.
"San Francisco one of the richest cities and look at it, so many homeless.
"Look at this, this is America. This is the American dream."