Last stand at the Bulb

With Albany looking to clear a bayshore homeless encampment, residents brace for a conflict

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As the squatter residents of Albany Bulb make one final push against being evicted from their home in a former landfill, the city of Albany is pushing forward with its plan to change the untamed space into a waterfront state park (see "Battle of the bulb," Sept. 24).

The first signs of the transition came on Nov. 22, when a temporary shelter was set up for residents whose camps would be cleared. The shelter came after a disappointing week in court left the 50 to 60 residents of the Bulb without the stay-away order their advocates had sought, which they intended to use to keep the city and police at bay during the winter.

On Nov. 18, the residents and their attorneys received word that the stay-away order was denied by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer. After the decision and an Albany City Council meeting later that evening, campers and area activists set up a permanent settlement against the eviction after marching through the streets of Albany.

Barricades made of rocks were set up at the Bulb to resist police getting into the camps. However, the rain that followed for a few nights inhibited their efforts, according to activists involved in the action. And the police, using a backhoe, destroyed the rock barricades. The city of Albany, according to a press release, is calling the transition "ACT" which includes, "Assistance to homeless, including housing-centered outreach, transitional services, support, and shelter; Cleanup and maintenance of the Bulb; and Transfer of the Bulb to McLaughlin Eastshore State Park." "As part of the City Council's Strategic Planning Process conducted in 2012, the City Council identified key goals for the City," Albany City Clerk Nicole Almaguer wrote in an email to the Guardian. "One of which is to 'Maximize Park and Open Space' including developing a plan to transition the Bulb into Eastshore State Park, and to improve accessibility for general public use of all of the Albany Bulb as a waterfront park." Almaguer stated that part of the plan included a temporary shelter and support services, which started this summer and is headed by Berkeley Food and Housing Project. The BFHP also provides case management for the Albany campers interested in securing housing outside of the Bulb.

While the city has provided a housing subsidy program to help Bulb residents with rent, a portion of it will also need to be covered by the tenant. Many of the Bulb residents are only supported through government programs such as SSI, and cannot afford housing costs.

In addition, most residents, and their attorney Osha Neumann, who is also a longtime contributor to art at the Bulb, say that the city does not have any affordable housing in which the residents can transition into. Managed by Operation Dignity, a nonprofit designed to help homeless veterans, the transitional shelter is set up by Golden Gate Fields racetrack near the entryway into the Bulb.

Comments

first place? To be evicted implies that you had a right to live somewhere and then there is a just cause for that arrangement to be terminated.

But in this case these squatters know that they never had any right to be there, so "eviction" is the wrong word. Rather, it is simpler the enforcement of existing trespass laws. You know, the same law that would enable you to get the cops to remove me from your yard if I decided to camp there without your permission.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

Please. If the argument has sunk to this level, it is time to move on. Let's face reality: these people want a place to live where they can do drugs and not have to pay rent. If they are getting SSI they have a lot more disposable income than young workers who have to pay rent so they can maintain themselves for their jobs. Let's direct our compassion to struggling workers and their families, and on the retired and disabled people who have contributed to society to the best of their ability. As for artsy-fartsy drug addicts who have taken over a public park and disdain life in "anonymous utilitarian boxes" as not befitting their artistic tastes . . . echhh, go get a life, people.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

Amber and her squatter cohort knows the City has announced they will not be removing the art. It's just a distraction from the issue at hand. Squatters taking our park land for their private use.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 04, 2013 @ 10:55 am

The City is spending 25%+ of its limited financial reserves to provide Bulb squatters 6 months of temporary housing as part of the eviction process. That is somehow considered inhumane? Really compassion is fully in evidence here. The squatters have been given 6+ months notice. The property they occupy has long planned as an addition to the State Park system and is currently a City Park. So we have the squatters building housing in a city park and somehow are so disconnected from reality that they are attacking the City for wanting to keep the land available to for public use. They have built permanent structures and brought in pit bulls that make the area unavailable to the public. I'm a progressive enviro and am fully supportive of what the City is planning to do here. It's the City's responsibility to keep park areas from being privatized like this. Albany is one of the most progressive communities in CA and to try to paint the City government as a bad guy here is really inappropriate reporting. Context is important here and the City had bent over backwards to be compassionate in this matter.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 04, 2013 @ 10:52 am

mind here. The city would have been better off adopting a zero tolerance policy on day one, using irresistable force to keep the public recreational areas for the public.

By treating these trespassers with kid gloves, the city has simply walked into this insane claim of entitlement.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 04, 2013 @ 11:07 am

At last! Something clear I can untersdand. Thanks!

Posted by Steffie on Mar. 17, 2014 @ 11:06 pm

Thank God! Soneome with brains speaks!

Posted by Keydren on Apr. 08, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

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