SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
Indybay About Contact Newsletter Calendar Publish Community

Santa Cruz Indymedia | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism

The Repurposing of 75 River St.
by autonomous action
Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 5:44 PM
The formerly vacant building at 75 River St. is being repurposed by an autonomous group, in solidarity with Occupy Santa Cruz. Formerly a big bank, it was bought out by Wells Fargo. Subsequently, the building closed, and has remained vacant for nearly three years. Today this group has, without breaking & entering, taken the building with intentions of using the space in a productive way that benefits the community of Santa Cruz . The property will no longer be left open by big development companies as a sign of the economic despair in this county, but will rather be used to enrich and teach the local community.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

The Repurposing of 75 River St.

Santa Cruz, CA, U.S.A.- November 30, 2011.

The formerly vacant building at 75 River St. is being repurposed by an autonomous group, in solidarity with Occupy Santa Cruz. Formerly a big bank, it was bought out by Wells Fargo. Subsequently, the building closed, and has remained vacant for nearly three years. Today this group has, without breaking & entering, taken the building with intentions of using the space in a productive way that benefits the community of Santa Cruz . The property will no longer be left open by big development companies as a sign of the economic despair in this county, but will rather be used to enrich and teach the local community.

While the middle class quickly falls toward the poverty line, the big banks and the extremely wealthy continue to get rich at the expense of all. Across the United States 1.05 million properties were seized by banks in the year 2010. In Santa Cruz County alone 1,594 homes were auctioned off between November 2010 and October 2011. The foreclosed and vacant buildings in this country serve as a reminder of the ever-growing gap between the 'rich' and the 'poor'. As people are left without shelter and social space due to foreclosures and a declining economy; big banks and developing companies buy out space to simply leave empty.

An existing time-honored U.S. and California law allows for the transfer of a property title when a property is occupied and taken care of by an alternative party for an extended period of time. This law is called adverse possession. The law was born out of the belief that society's best interests are met when land and property are utilized productively rather than sitting vacant. Today, the building at 75 River St. has been adversely possessed. No longer will the property exist only as an empty parking lot and a vacant building with a sign re-directing people to Wells Fargo across the street. It will be repurposed and used to benefit the community instead of Cassidy Turley, the large-scale commercial real estate company currently leasing the building, and Wells Fargo bank.

Instead of an empty space, there will be a space for community teach-ins, an open library, and discussion forums. The space will be offered to Occupy Santa Cruz as an opportunity to have a roof over its head and allow for more organization to take place. The space will be safe, non-violent, non-destructive and welcoming. The building will be a forum for individuals in the community to learn from one another, and help the Occupy movement grow.

There is a hope to see community support for the reclamation of property and space from the very wealthy, the 1%, back into the hands and benefit of the community.

This action was not decided on by the General Assembly of Occupy Santa Cruz. This press release is not from the Occupy Santa Cruz media team.
§Photo from Across the Street
by via ooainaut Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 6:08 PM
occupy-empty-bank.jpg
occupy-empty-bank.jpg

§Police in Riot Gear
by via twitter Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 6:26 PM
6:24 PM: Swat team assembled in Wells Fargo parking lot

6:25 PM: 15 cops in riot gear just arrived in the scene
§Right now
by (a) Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 6:34 PM
Things are getting crazy right now. Head down and show your support!
§Police Arrive at 75 River St.
by via twitter Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 6:34 PM
6:30 PM: Santa Cruz police have just arrived at 75 River St. in riot gear. http://pic.twitter.com/j21M1oAi
§Barricades holding strong
by via @OccupySantaCruz Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 6:38 PM
6:34 PM: Barricades holding strong at occupied bank http://twitpic.com/7mdeei
§Cops driven off!
by via @a_sunspeck Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 6:53 PM
cops-driven-off.jpg
cops-driven-off.jpg

6:50 PM: Cops driven off! Bank held by #OccupySantaCruz
§Threat to Clear Tents from 100' of the OSC Campground
by Robert Norse Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 9:43 PM
Casey L. and Steve P. report that Parks & Rec officials are threatening to uproot and remove a large number of tents from the campground area used by OSC and its supporters in the San Lorenzo Benchlands by 7:30 AM if they are not moved 100' close to the teepee. This vastly expands an earlier demand for a 25' shift. Pleich also reports campers were not advised of this new threat in spite of claims they had been told. The campground is just across the river from the Bank Reconstruction Project. If folks are up early and want to document and support, come down to the campground.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Dr.Q
Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 6:25 PM
The Rittenhouse building on Pac Ave has been empty since it was built. Why don't you guys go re-purpose that next?
by (a)
Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 6:53 PM
Cops just left after a standoff! They apparently stole the 'occupy everything' banner first. Head down now!!!
by DHale
Wednesday Nov 30th, 2011 9:00 PM
Thank you for this well written and inspirational article. It doesn't make sense to allow a vacant building to sit vacant for three years when the people need a public space so they can work together to build stronger supportive communities in such difficult times. We need more community space like this where people can educate each other, have community discussions , and brain storm about what we are going to do about our dysfunctional government and law makers. I hope they set up a voter registration table in there. We need to start thinking about the next election now. Power to the People!
by Bob Lamonica
Thursday Dec 1st, 2011 6:34 AM
This is possibly the first above-board building occupation in recent American history, outside of the student sit-ins of the 60's, which were college campus occupations, not private buildings.

There are enough 20-somethings in the USA with no apparent future, enough college students and recent graduates with massive, unheard of a few decades ago student debts, that Revolution was as inevitable in the Gringo State as it was in Tunisia.

A very proud time to be a Santa Cruzan. Honor and courage salutations to all involved! As Robert Reich said recently about the Occupy Movement Revolution, once it starts, it doesn't stop. Don't expect perfection, because everybody else is not your clone.

TAX THE RICH.
by gustavo g
Thursday Dec 1st, 2011 8:30 AM
Can Wells Fargo say "Eminent domain "
by Ben
Thursday Dec 1st, 2011 10:57 AM
"This law is called adverse possession."

I happen to know what "adverse possession" is, and in this case it does not apply. There are a number of situations where this transfer can take place. The only one that comes close is if the building has been abandoned by the owner. In that case, by law, the building would have to be left unattended/maintained for at least 15 years. Now while the building has been empty for 3 years, it has not been unattended to or not maintained. The owner (who by the way is NOT Wells Fargo) has been trying to rent the property, and in the interim has been keeping the building in full working order with regular maintenance.

Also in this particular case "adverse possession" would only apply if the owner did not know they were there and/or did nothing to get them out. The owner has stated that they DO want the protesters out.

While I am sympathetic to the Occupy Movement, I think this was not a very smart move. It would be interesting to hear from the person/people who advised them of the legalities surrounding such a situation.
by thornsoftristan
Thursday Dec 1st, 2011 11:27 AM
I doubt they had any legal advisers. They lied about their intent on FB; circulated "false action" rumors amongst OSC'ers (self included); and went about this action with a high level of internal secrecy (although I admit, the action itself was well organized). This whole aspect of high secrecy in a climate that doesn't require it, is very troubling. The police and the City have demonstrated that they are not looking for violent clashes, and are willing to negotiate.

We, on the other hand, act as if we're about to be raided any second: and I won't relate the myriad negative views of the police themselves.

The truly funny thing is the press release talking about the trespassers' intentions on the property "for years to come." What is the name of the state you're in, when you're opining about an outcome that's beyond the most optimistic scenario? Ah yes...I think it's "delusional." Wells Fargo owns the property, and doesn't want us there (even though this is not an OSC Action: many OSCers are in there).

If the police refuse to empty the place: Wells Fargo could well hire some security to clear them out. That would get very messy (as in, violent. And sorry, but if you're an organization dedicated to nonviolence: that also excludes actions that directly provoke a violent response, like BnE). But I doubt they'll last a month.

Even so, I hope I'm wrong. It WOULD be great to see the place transformed into a People's Library/media center/GA meeting hall. I'm sure Wells Fargo would agree to pay our electrical, as well....uh huh.

While I have mixed feelings about this action...I don't think the long term implications were very well considered.
by gazelle
Thursday Dec 1st, 2011 11:38 AM
As quickly as possible, set up some of the building's rooms for seniors who the banks foreclosed on -- and MOVE THEM IN. Beds, privacy curtains, etc.

That will prevent any tear gas attack and mobilize public support for the cops to leave you alone.

Best wishes.
by (a)
Thursday Dec 1st, 2011 1:00 PM
hey thornsoftristan,
You complain that this was carried out with a high level of secrecy. Taking over a building isn't the type of thing that can happen if you announce it beforehand. It wasn't an OSC action, as you mention, so why would you expect to know about it? It was an autonomous group planning and carrying out a building occupation on their own.
by occupy_your_birthright
Thursday Dec 1st, 2011 3:49 PM
no one was hurt. if anyone does get hurt it will be because of police action. the police already caused a traffic mess by blocking the road.
i thought the fire alarm at the county building shortly before was a brilliant diversion, but it happened because the server room got too hot. perhaps God is on the side of the anarchists.
the only problem i have with this is that these brave and heroic activists will probably end up in jail, instead of the bankers who truly belong there.
by thornsoftristan
Thursday Dec 1st, 2011 11:00 PM
"You complain that this was carried out with a high level of secrecy. Taking over a building isn't the type of thing that can happen if you announce it beforehand."

Yeah, you can: with the right amount of caution. Please, this group acts as if every other person is a police narc. It wouldn't have taken all that much to let more in on it.

If you're going to announce an action and then lie about the target: you have only yourself to blame if people get upset, or confused. Because at the very least: your paranoia has a chance of alienating others.

"It wasn't an OSC action, as you mention, so why would you expect to know about it?"

Oh gosh: I don't know? Perhaps because it's sponsored by a group called "Occupy Everything;" that has its march BEGIN at OSC Ground Zero...and I was invited via Facebook, with at least 20% of its participants being OSC members themselves??"

"It was an autonomous group planning and carrying out a building occupation on their own."

Just, conveniently having almost the same name, as OSC: With the media (by and large) wholly uneducated as to the distinction.

Uh huh.
by thornsoftristan
Friday Dec 2nd, 2011 12:42 AM
Wrong. Someone DID get hurt. Or rather, some effort to right injustice.

You see, we at OSC haven't been just sitting on our hands. We've been attempting to Occupy Homes about to be foreclosed, with the owner's permission.

And I was told we actually had a person interested. But after he heard of this stunt: he pulled out. Nice work.
by Ed Natol
Friday Dec 2nd, 2011 8:27 AM
So gazelle, are seniors pawns or just human shields? How about some preschoolers, or a pony? Nobody will attack if you have a pony.
by gazelle
Friday Dec 2nd, 2011 5:27 PM
Neither, Ed. My point was to start offering services. REAL services. To those who need them. Doing so shields in many, many ways. That's how social movements often succeed.
by revolution is risky
Friday Dec 2nd, 2011 9:22 PM
from week one of OSC the bank was an obvious target. i am surprised Wells Fargo was so lax in leaving the key unguarded. why complain if you were out of the loop? that's just ego. get over it. the fewer who know the greater the chance of success. no way this could have worked if brought to the GA. occupying a house has low visibility, and it sounds like the owner would balk the minute things got rough anyway.
by Ed Natol
( ednatol [at] hotmail.com ) Saturday Dec 3rd, 2011 11:35 PM
I was hoping to offer my grandmother to sit in a powerless, waterless building so she could hold off the cossacks.