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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Environment & Forest Defense | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons
Albany Bulb Solidarity Campout, 10/2/13
Over sixty long-time residents of the former landfill known as the Albany Bulb are facing eviction as early as this month. For decades, however, the Bulb has been a safe place for those in the East Bay without traditional housing to make a home, in tents and even more permanent structures of their own making. Not only have hundreds of homeless persons found their own way to the Bulb over the years, but the origins of people making a home at the Bulb trace back historically, in part, to various East Bay police departments clearing city streets and dropping off homeless persons at the entrance to the Albany Bulb. The land also serves as a free-flowing, open-air art museum featuring the works of numerous artists such as Osha Newman. The Bulb as a safe haven for East Bay citizens with no where else to go has long co-existed with recreational users, people of all stripes sharing the bulb. Nevertheless, the Sierra Club and Citizens for an East Shore State Park have pressured the Albany City Council to take action to remove those who live at the Bulb and declare the land "recreation only." This is despite the fact that the City of Albany provides absolutely no homeless services whatsoever and neither of pressure groups have shown any interest in offering assistance with securing alternate housing. After having lived quietly at the Bulb for years, residents are now organizing and taking action to raise awareness of their plight and fight impending eviction. On October 2nd, a solidarity campout was held at the Albany Bulb to support residents and strategize together for future actions in defense of the land as one of, if not the only, free and open spaces remaining in the Bay Area.
[Solidarity activists and residents gather around a campfire in the amphitheater to discuss the history of people living at the Bulb and possible courses of action including speaking out at Albany City Council meetings.]
"About the Albany Bulb," from the Share the Bulb website:
The Albany landfill is an undeveloped spit of land, densely carpeted with vegetation, that pokes a little over a mile into San Francisco Bay from its east shore. Shaped like a tree that has fallen in the water, it begins as a broad elevated plateau, thins to a narrow neck, then widens out at the end to form what is known as “The Bulb.” Looking out from the Bulb on a clear day the eye can sweep in a wide arc from the Bay Bridge and the skyline of San Francisco in the south, to Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the headlands of Marin. Overhead a huge sky. Far behind the freeway clogged with cars, and the cities of Albany, Richmond, and Berkeley.
The landfill opened for business in 1963 when the City of Albany signed a contract with the Sante Fe Railroad Company “for the purpose of creating usable land.” Prior to 1975, the operators of the landfill accepted garbage and refuse. But the landfill was intended for “demolition debris” and over time the garbage was buried under tons of concrete rubble, rebar, wire mesh, corrugated tin, steel, iron, coke, slag, asphalt, glass, plastic and excavated dirt. The first years of dumping created the plateau. When the mesa of rubble reached its peak the trucks began dumping their loads further out into the Bay. The finger of fill narrowed to create the neck, then widened at its tip and kept widening until December 1983 when the landfill was closed. In 20 years over 60 acres of new land had been created by the dumping of approximately 2 million cubic yards of waste to an average depth of 40 feet.
There is nothing “natural” about the origin of the landfill. It was not shaped by glaciers, the movement of tectonic plates or the persistent pummeling of wind and water. Nature had little to do with its creation, but when the dumping stopped nature saw its chance.
Over the past three decades, Nature and a particularly resourceful group of homeless people have reclaimed the Bulb as a wild space and a community space. The combination of reclaimed nature, community, and outsider art have made this former dump one of the most beautiful peninsulas into the San Francisco Bay, and has attracted daily dog-walkers, day-strollers, curious wanderers, picnickers, and others to an amazing place that reminds us of the many ways humans need the wild.
Event announcement for October 2nd solidarity campout:
Albany City Council meeting schedule:
Rally to Save Albany Bulb! MARCH and CAMPOUT on SOLANO AVE!
Monday, October 7th, 6pm