Recap added May 14:
The Albany Bulb is a form garbage dump formed when cities and corporations dumped waste in the Bay and even demolished a natural hill to make room for a parking lot for a race track. When the infill was halted by a law suit in 1983. The City of Albany talked with developers about turning this wasteland of concrete & rebar into a Marina and high-rise luxury hotel but was finally discouraged by community opposition and the costs developing on tidal mudflats covered with construction detritus. Albany then largely ignored the Bulb and tried to unload the peninsula on the East Bay Regional Park District or the CA State Parks, but these entities were reluctant to assume the “property” because of fears of liability and the costs of making the rebar-filled area “safe.” Largely non-native plants and animals quickly colonized the Bulb. In the absence of much governmental oversight the community itself organized the space into a wonderful, anarchic expression of freedom and individuality. Art sprung up all over the area, largely made with found materials at the Bulb, windsurfers started using the area, folks walked their dogs off-leash and even staged concerts and plays without benefit of permit. A colony of houseless folks even emerged camping with beautiful views of the Golden Gate. Watch the film “Where Do YOU Go When It Rains?” for more of a description.
But even though the Bulb quickly became one of the most heavily used and loved recreational spaces on the entire Bay civic “leaders” and “environmentalists” wouldn’t leave this experiment in creative freedom intact. It started off slowly. “The Plateau area, once popular for flying model airplanes, has been partly fenced off as habitat for burrowing owls, as mitigation for habitat taken by sports fields to the south. However, as of 2010, no owls have been sighted.” But recently the City has decided to turn over the Bulb to the EBRPD under the auspices of the Eastshore State Park, and in preparation for this it has decided to start transforming the Bulb into a bourgeois conception of a “park”; off leash dog walking has been banned, most of the campers have been driven off, the lovely plethora of Himalayan black berries, scotch broom, etc. that took root there is being eradicated, and in the future plans call for all the art to be demolished, since it, like the plants, is not “native” to the Bulb.
On the Bulb art, the plan says, “Consistent with the Eastshore park project’s cultural resource guidelines, the practice and products associated with unauthorized artistic expression (e.g., installations, structures, paintings, etc.) on the Albany Bulb will be reviewed in accordance with State Parks’ systemwide cultural resource procedures prior to their removal.”
Free parking has been dramatically curtailed forcing some users to park hundreds of yards away across the railroad tracks and freeway in residential neighbourhoods in order to access the Bulb. Look for future restrictions to other recreational and creative uses such as wind surfing.
But community members are organizing resistance. Starting this afternoon (May 14) at 5PM people will be gathering at the Bulb for a 24/7 re-occupation of the Bulb.
|Title:||Re-occupation of the Albany Bulb|
|START DATE:||Wednesday May 14|
|TIME:||5:00 PM – 5:00 PM|
|The Albany Bulb – Keyhole (Stone structure in the front.)
|Event Type:||Critical Mass|
|We are calling for a mass and long term reoccupation of the Albany Bulb starting Wednesday May 14 @ 5 PM.Yesterday the police and city illegally destroyed a very nice shack that an older man was living in so in response and preparation for the reoccupation, 9 blockades were built at major chokepoints of the Bulb to keep the cops from evicting the last remaining residents. Each barricade was made of large rocks/slabs of concrete and large branches that were cut down by the city stacked up to be about 5 feet tall. Unfortunately we did not have enough people to defend the barricades and they were demolished this after noon. We need your help!For the reoccupation we need tents, blankets, tools, building supplies, food, water, walkie talkies, and any other things that would be useful for a long term land reclaimation.
Please visit and camp out as often as possible or support us in anyway you can. We need people to make new art, have meetings, build new shacks, do copwatch, or have bonfires and concerts.
Please spread this call for reoccupation to as many people as possible. We need people to hold as much space for as long as possible!
For more information about the struggle at the Albany Bulb Visit: http://sharethebulb.org/
Keep the Bulb Wild and Autonomous!
Older part of the post:
As we noted before, the City of Albany is preparing to clear the last residents of the Albany Bulb out. Most of the dwellers accepted the “deal” Albany offered, $3,000 and transportation out of town for the residents in return for a promise not to return to any Albany open spaces or the Bulb for the next 12 months. The city dumped them and their meager possessions just inside the Berkeley border and now many people are living in misery, squatting on the ground under the freeway overpass at Gilman Street listening to the sounds of incessant traffic, breathing noxious fumes.
Amber, who is one of the campers organizing resistance to the pasteurization and pacification of the Bulb, refused to accept the offered “relocation deal” & was issued a citation for ‘camping’ yesterday. There were rumors that the City was coming today at 4 PM to arrest her and the last campers, but so far the police have not showed up.
Folks will be gathering at the Bulb Saturday, May 10th at 1 PM to show their solidarity with the people being driven from their homes by the City.
Saturday May 10!
1-3 pm at the Bulb!
BULB LOVERS UNITE ! WE ARE THE MAJORITY SHARE THE BULB EVENT SNAP SHOTS AND VIDEO TESTIFYING FOR OUR BULB
For more information:
From Amber on May 12th:
If you have ever wondered what it would be like, if the time came, when the people had to make one final stand for the freedom of the Bulb… Well, that time is now…
As some of you may know (and others may not) the recent developments in the City of Albany’s economic cleansing are outright inhumane.
The City had Police Officers posted at the entrance to the Albany Bulb, every night (for weeks), issuing curfew violation citations to Bulb residents after 10:00pm, as they came and went between town and their homes on the Bulb.
Albany Municipal Code 1-9 b. states that:
“Unless otherwise provided, any person, firm, corporation or organization violating any provision of the Albany City Code, whether or not previously convicted, three (3) or more times in any twelve (12) month period may be charged with a misdemeanor and upon conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction thereof shall be punishable by a fine of, not more than five hundred ($500.00) dollars, or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding six (6) months, or by both such a fine and imprisonment.”
This is the process that Albany Police were supposed to use on violators of the Curfew Ordinance, but: for residents of the Bulb, along with their misdemeanor conviction was to be a stay-away order from the Albany Bulb.
At a case management conference for the recent civil rights lawsuit (filed in federal court on behalf of Albany Bulb residents, challenging the City of Albany’s discriminatory treatment of disabled homeless individuals), it was made clear by the magistrate that (with Judge Bryer presiding) we had little to no chance of winning in court. At this point the City had us at their mercy and they drew up some really weak terms for a settlement. However, being at their mercy, our lawyers and most of the plaintiffs (along with some other people whom the City had done wrong) were left with little choice but to accept the settlement.
The terms of the settlement were:
The City of Albany would give people $3000 each and work with the courts to drop/dismiss the citations that they had each received up to then… if each person would agree to move out of their homes on the Albany Bulb in less than a week and sign an agreement to stay away from: the Albany Bulb, the Neck of the Bulb, the wooded part of Albany Hill and Pierce Street Park, for a period of no less than 12 months.
28 people accepted the “buyout”.
My partner and I requested that the judge dismiss our claims without prejudice. And he did.
We could never have lived with the knowledge that we had sold out. Not now. Not ever. And definitely not in this situation.
We refuse to let the City sweep us under the rug. If we have to leave our home, we will just have to sleep on a main thoroughfare. We would prefer to stay here at the Bulb. But, if not here, then somewhere else here in Albany where we can maintain a stable home. We refuse to just disappear.
In our time here my partner and I have experienced healing that can best be described as spiritual in nature.
Our physical and mental health (although still far from what anyone would describe as “ideal”) has vastly improved. And our understanding of our greater purpose in life has taken shape and flourished beyond what either of us could ever have previously imagined.
We have become: Hermits.
In the truest sense of the word.
Seven and a half years living here, watching the crowds (big and small) of people (young and old) who come to the Albany Bulb, enjoying and appreciating this place for what it is, has been an incredibly uplifting experience.
We are the late-night cleanup crew, the unpaid gardeners and “Landfillscapers”, the callers of 9-1-1 when no one else is around to do so… In essence, we are the stewards of the Landfill.
Being a steward to land is like being its parent. It’s about taking care of the land by protecting its resources, including wildlife, timber, soil, water and natural beauty. Stewardship is about making a commitment to the land that helps preserve it for today and tomorrow.
One incredibly important resource, provided by the Albany Bulb is the ability for people to express themselves freely here. Be it with Bagpipes, paint, driftwood or construction debris… The Bulb has always been a place of freedom and acceptance.
Now, the world stands to lose the great value that the Albany Bulb has held for so many, for so long.
As Albany’s economic cleansing nears completion, the City Manager and Council are proud to be on their way towards handing over the Albany Bulb to the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD).
What they know better than to be proud of, is the conditions that their heartless and hasty actions have pushed the now truly homeless former Bulb residents into.
Since there is no affordable housing in Albany (and since all disabled Bulb residents filed Requests for Reasonable Accommodations, in order for them to be able to use the shelter, which were all denied) the resulting refugees have settled underneath the Gilman Street overpass for I-80, in Berkeley.
If you can, I encourage everyone to go see for themselves these allegedly “better” accommodations that our community is relegated to existing in. Park at either the soccer fields or on Eastshore Highway or 2nd St. then walk on the sidewalks that run under the freeway. This cannot be seen merely by driving by! As most of the beds are up against the wall that is closest to traffic. The people there are human beings, former Albany neighbors… and they are living in conditions so deplorable that words cannot adequately illustrate the slum-like environment that the people there (some of whom had homes, with kitchens and beds, on the Albany Bulb, not even a month ago) have been forced to live in.
And, contrary to what the City of Albany would have people believe, most of the former Bulb residents would love nothing more than to have somewhere to live indoors. But, the reality of the situation is that the City of Albany does not care about the people enough to even try to support them with housing and was barely willing to spend a mere fraction of the money that was mostly spent on destroying people’s homes and throwing away their belongings, on actually getting people into housing.
So, those of us who can (myself and my partner), along with those who must (the other two current Bulb residents) are taking a stand.
The City of Albany wants to give the Bulb over to EBRPD, for as little money as possible, as quickly as possible… at all costs, human or otherwise.
Now, there is a total of 4 people, living on the Albany Bulb.
We are all aware that we are one of the last obstacles that stands in the way of Albany giving away this most treasured cultural resource, thereby sealing its fate as yet another part of the State Parks system.
And, what is wrong with that?…
The following quote is from the Eastshore State Park General Plan:
“The practice and products associated with unauthorized artistic expression (e.g. installations, structures, paintings, etc) on the Albany Bulb will be removed.”
If you take a moment to read that sentence over, you will understand what we are protecting, with all of our strength.
Freedom. Freedom for people to express themselves (artistically, or otherwise) without fear of being deemed “unauthorized”.
And, for those of us who feel that this place holds nothing short of a deep, religious significance: the freedom to worship as we do (in a way that is not only sustainable, but that also benefits mankind and nature in an immediate and tangible way).
We have all known that this time was coming…
We have watched it coming like a storm, closing in around us like dark clouds.
This is the time to rally all the people who love this unique place AS IT IS AND HAS BEEN!!!
Whether you have only been here once (and vowed to return to this magical land(fill))…
Or if you have lived here before and know the healing power that this place holds.
Whether you have attended a funeral or a wake here, in memory of a fallen friend who knew and loved the Bulb…
Or if you have attended a wedding ceremony here, to celebrate the union of friends.
Whether you walk your dog here every day, rain or shine…
Or if you have only been here once, at night, to a party at Mad Marc’s Castle.
Whether you are only able to view this place from afar, yet you understand the spirit of the Bulb and the spiritual power that this place holds…
Or if you haven’t been here, yourself, but you know people who lived/visited here, heard them talking about the Albany Bulb and said to yourself “I have got to go see that place for myself, someday.”…
This call goes out to you.
Last Thursday, we were told that our days, living on the Bulb, are numbered.
Friday, I received my first camping citation and my partner received his second. (He got his first one in the middle of the day on his birthday, last Wednesday.)
As soon as the last person is flushed off of the Bulb, the rest of the Bulb as we know it is in danger of extinction!
Please, come down to the Albany Bulb and join us in our final attempt to save more than just our only shelter, but the last place of truly free expression.
Before this last bastion of freedom gets regulated into history. And the land of the free becomes the land of the restricted.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead