Battle of the Bulb

Eviction day nears for the homeless inhabitants of a colorful stretch of shoreline in Albany that nature lovers want cleared

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The Albany Bulb is a shoreline landfill turned art space turned homeless encampment turned park and nature trail.
PHOTO BY ALAN SANCHEZ

news@sfbg.com

On a sunny September afternoon, Osha Neumann slowly walks onto the dirt path leading to the Albany Bulb, using a walking stick for balance against the pebbles. With a white beard and lanky frame, the 74-year-old artist and attorney is no stranger to this landfill turned art space turned homeless encampment that juts out of the East Bay shoreline near the Berkeley Marina and the Golden Gate Fields racetrack.

Neumann has been coming for more than a decade, with his son-in-law Jason DeAntonis to build driftwood sculptures, and as an attorney fighting for the rights of the homeless who live on the 31-acre plot. He's witnessed its evolution from rubble-filled no man's land to one of the last undeveloped stretches of open shoreline in the Bay Area.

"The Bulb has been a refuge, a solace, a place of inspiration," he said. "It's a place where I can get off the grid and live in this wonderful, successful, fruitful anarchy. I came to really love this place."

But the Albany Bulb is now facing another transition point in its evolution, one that pits nature lovers and city officials against those who have call this strange stretch of shoreline "home."

>>Check out a slideshow of the Albany Bulb here

 

 

TRASH TO TREASURE

The Albany Bulb is a radical space of massive debris sculptures and structures, huge concrete slabs of graffiti, tents and tree houses, and artifacts from wreckage that, incorporated into the natural landscape of acacia and eucalyptus trees, is a unique and beloved slice of land symbolizing the free spirit of the region.

It's where sparrows and other birds come to nest, and where dog walkers take dirt paths to the water's edge. It's also a space that major organizations such as the East Bay Regional Parks District, the Sierra Club, Save the Bay, the state park system, and the city of Albany have all fought for decades to preserve, with the idea that humans should not be allowed to live there. And in October, due to the enforcement of a no-camping policy approved on May 6 by the Albany City Council, the people living at the Albany Bulb will have to tear down their makeshift homes and say goodbye permanently.

"This has been in the works for 40 years," said Robert Cheasty, a former Albany mayor and the current president of Citizens for East Bay Parks.

The Bulb became a part of the Eastshore State Park, a stretch of land with a trail along the East Bay shoreline that connects Oakland to Richmond, in the mid 1980s. And with the proclamation of a park came the people. Cheasty has become one of the most outspoken critics of people occupying the Bulb.

"It cannot be allowed to be privatized by any group or person," he said.

It's an argument that's been made many times over the years, but now it seems to be on the verge of coming true.

The first people living in the Bulb came to take up residence after the eviction of the homeless campers from People's Park in Berkeley in the mid '90s. Before that, it was used as a landfill for BART and highway construction materials.

Nature inevitably took over, and much of the debris has been moved to certain areas within the park. Some of the first residents were immortalized in the documentary film Bum's Paradise, where they lived in harmony with four artists known as Sniff, whose paintings and sculptures came to beautify the unconventional living space. In 1999, the first major eviction took place.

"Then, as now, the city provided them no place to go," Neumann said. "People just scattered with no place to go, into the surrounding jurisdictions primarily."

Comments

Just another factional day for the Bay Area left.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

As a life-long environmental advocate (and a 12-year vehicular self-houser/victim of Bay Area society's failure to provide enough affordable housing), I feel qualifed enough by commitment and experience to state: Albany must bear homeless housing cost, not public-park-owners. Where's the beef, Albany?

Posted by David Isaac Tam on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

Norman La force is a reactionary not a leftest and the left of the sierra club should replace him John Muir would spit in his face for his lack of empathy and soul.

... the thousands of art peices will be destroyed and thousands of art peices of the future will not be tolerated .one of my favorites was twenty computer mices hangin on trees with twenty mouse traps Every saturday i would go out to the bulb and see the new and old art since 2006

. at one point there was a donut for those of u who don't know a donut is a cicular track for skate boarders the "kids took a hundred bags of cement and made there space it was so kool to watch them skate board
the city of albany bull dozed it after a year and a
half
FINALLY I URGE U TO CLICK IMAGE ON GOOGLE AND TYPE IN ALBANY BULB YOU WILL SEE THOUSANDS OFway kool PHOTOS

strike unite what kind of pie occupy it's your future .

Posted by orion on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 12:53 am

Great work, Kate!
Sending a class of CCA students out to the Bulb this week. Your
article comes just at the perfect time.
xogf

Posted by Gloria Frym on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

As a life-long environmental advocate (and a 12-year vehicular self-houser/victim of Bay Area society's failure to provide enough affordable housing), I feel qualifed enough by commitment and experience to state: Albany must bear homeless housing cost, not public-park-owners. Where's the beef, Albany?

Posted by David Isaac Tam on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

"failure" of the Bay Area to provide you with housing that you can afford isn't THEIR failure at all. It's yours for choosing to live in an expensive place that you evidently lack the fiscal power to afford.

Don't make your problem into the problem of others. Fix it yourself, and don't play the victim blame game.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

Thanks to troll barrier for flagging the specious and self-congratulatory comments of "guest," whom I dare to self-identify.

Posted by David Isaac Tam on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

that's why i created it

if large numbers of us continue to spoil the fun of these trolls by throwing up these barriers, eventually many of them will leave

use both the subject and user name "troll barrier" for consistency

Posted by racer x on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

just bumping a troll a little farther out of the conversation

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

to ruin the debate. In fact, the longer you make this thread, the more probably it appears on the front page as "most commented on2 and so the more people read my posts.

So, thank you.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

vacuous accusations and trolling is, what, exactly?

Or do you just want to ruin this place?

Posted by anon on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

It means I post more, so as to provide more balance. And the folks I know who post here are all committed to staying here regardless, and in fact are MORE likely to continue to post.

So you failed. Again.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

Anyone can call anyone else a troll here. That's free speech. But it's also an admission that you do not have an argument, and I notice that you have not addressed any of the critical points made debunking your specious points.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

just one more little bump... ;)

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

Thanks to troll barrier for flagging the ad hominem attack on me. I dare "guest" to publicly identify her/himself.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

poster for posting as "Guest".

Classic.

Oh, and it's not an ad hominem attack to expose your cheap attempt to blame others for your own shortcomings.

You've been owned. Be a man and admit it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 2:07 pm
Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

Few things are more entertaining than watching one sanctimonious cult of lefties battle a second sanctimonious cult of lefties. Game on!

Posted by Chromefields on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:28 am

the Russian Revolution degraded into Leninists, Trotskyites, Stalinists and so on. I swear that factions of the SF Green Party hate each other more than they hate a Tea Partier.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:55 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 10:08 am
Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 10:24 am

the right is facist racist sexest and is trying to destroy liberal sexest racist capitalist imperialist phony democracy on the other hand the left is united against both.

Posted by orion on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 1:10 am

But damned if I know what it is.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 6:26 am
no

no

Posted by orion on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 1:06 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 10:09 am
Ugh

Gotta love that comment 'This isn't some wasteland'

Uh... Bc a wasteland is where the homeless belong?
Douchebag elitists.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 12:19 am

areas that are grim rather than delightful, then the answer is in the affirmative. Lots of homeless in the Tenderloin; very few in Pacific Heights.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 7:35 am

I was interested in understanding this issue a bit more in depth so I created this short film to learn a bit about the residents currently living on the Bulb. https://vimeo.com/75180127

Posted by TruthBeTold on Sep. 29, 2013 @ 10:56 am

I was interested in understanding this issue a bit more in depth so I created this short film to learn a bit about the residents currently living on the Bulb. https://vimeo.com/75180127

Posted by TruthBeTold on Sep. 29, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

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