Albany Bulb dwellers speak out on temporary shelter arrangement


The ongoing eviction saga at the Albany Bulb, which the Guardian has covered extensively in recent weeks, previously hinged on a debate around conflicting ideas over what was considered appropriate use for a waterfront park.

Environmentalists and others wanted encampments cleared so the Bulb could be a strictly recreational area, while longtime Bulb dwellers fought to stay on the waterfront land, which offered them a safe harbor where they could live peacefully in D.I.Y. spaces cobbled together with whatever materials they could find.

Now that the city has gotten the green light to move forward with clearing homeless residents’ camps, however, the ongoing saga is shaping up to be a study in how a city ought to deal with a newly uprooted population that has been, or is about to be, forcibly removed from self-styled dwellings that were at least safe and stable, if technically illegal and unconventional.

The city of Albany, working with a group called Operation Dignity, has installed temporary shelters at the Bulb that will remain there for six months. However, that approach has prompted the 49 organized homeless residents to issue a press release essentially condemning the arrangement as inadequate, dehumanizing, and ultimately ineffective at addressing homelessness.

In a press release issued today by Share the Bulb, a group of residents and supporters who’ve sought to defend their right to stay, residents described conditions in the newly installed shelters as prison-like, and labeled them “internment trailers.”

The Guardian was unable to reach the city of Albany or representatives from Operation Dignity for a response to the Bulb dweller’s complaints. But here’s an excerpt from Share the Bulb's public statement:

“There are 49 current residents at the Bulb, but the internment trailers have room for only thirty people, stacked on top of each other in bunk beds. The trailers will only be open for six months. After that six-month period, Bulb residents who haven’t found housing elsewhere will be forced onto the streets of Albany or surrounding municipalities…

“The trailers open each day at 5:30pm and participants must be inside by 8pm, after which they are not permitted to step outside the trailers. Participants must then be out by 8:30am, without access to the facilities throughout the day…

“The rules also prohibit sexual interaction between participants and require gender separation, even for intimate partners who currently live together on the Bulb. One such couple has been together for 32 years.

“There are a total of four kennels for dogs of shelter participants, which is insufficient for the twenty dogs Bulb residents own. There are no accommodations for cats, effectively excluding the seven ESAs which are cats, and their owners.”

Uncomfortable as these conditions may be in comparison with what residents had built and settled into for years, the shelters are merely a temporary measure. The ultimate question is whether or not these individuals will succeed in finding housing once the camps have all been cleared, and the shelters cease to be an option.


It's the city's job to remove them from where they cannot and should not be, and not to tell them where they should go.

Let each of them make their own decision. All we know is that they cannot continue to live on a recreational space, any more than they can stay in GG Park or the Presidio.

Posted by anon on Nov. 29, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

Yeah, they should all move to Oakland, it's only 10 minutes away on BART.

What makes these whiners feel entitled to live in Albany, coddled and subsidized by honest hard working taxpayers like me.

Posted by freaky deaky on Nov. 29, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

Here is a fun recreational activity, empathy, give it a try sometime.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 4:05 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:00 am

Here's a fun game to play with your tax paying honest hard working folks of Albany, tell your kids when you take them there, you see now we can throw the frisbee around and fly a kite safe and sound, knowing that 49 people that were safe are now not. It's fun to call your self honest and tax paying as if that hands you a license in ethics, you clearly have none and are a selfish sd[vju abr9[ 8etq nz b4yfb

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 4:04 am

A park is not a home.

A home is not a park.

It's really easy if you try.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:00 am

Oakland is the promised land.

Everybody should move there.

I'm gonna move there just as soon as I overcome this compulsion to throw myself in front of a BART train whenever it comes thrusting into the station.

My therapist says I'm really making progress, and the Lithium is helping.

I just hope Oakland isn't Full up before I get there.

Posted by Anna Karenina on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 6:37 am

abandoned houses. You can buy or rent there for half what it costs in SF.

Nobody is saying that you have to live here - only that others should not have to pay so that you can life a lifestyle that is beyond your means.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:02 am

the fact that Oakland is much cheaper and has plenty of land and homes, she must try and belittle the idea by cheap snide shots and emotional appeals.

She wants a handout to stay in SF but there is a very real option that she would prefer you not to know about.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 7:45 am

So, wiseguy, what is this secret option?

Please share.

Posted by Anna K on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

It is as valid for someone in SF who cannot afford it as it is for a bunch of homeless folks a few miles north in Albany.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

The thing I want to question? We have evictions going on in San Francisco, wouldn't the same thing happen in Oakland, of course then they can go to Stockton. Come on people build some homes, clean up the parks and stop with just saying they can move there.

Posted by Garrett on Dec. 03, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

than SF has. This means that there is little or no reason to ever Ellis in Oakland and, as far as I know, there has never been an Ellis eviction in Oakland, nor in the vast majority of the State.

To my knowledge, Ellis evictions have only happened in SF, Berkeley and Santa Monica. The usual suspects, as it were.

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money to one of the bankrupt Bay Area cities (Vallejo and Stockton) in return for them taking all these homeless people?

Prime bay front recreational areas are not appropriate for illegal homeless encampments, but there are some other parts of the Bay Area that are more suitable.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 8:11 am

Stockton is in the CV - the Central Valley. It's not even remotely close to being "Bay Area."

Posted by The Goebblin Love Child of Smaug on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

a legitimate option for people who cannot afford SF, or even Oakland.

In fact, some people commute from places like Tracey and Manteca, which are even further away.

The Bay Area is expanding for affordability reasons. The market also provides solutions to problems that it causes.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 01, 2013 @ 8:26 am

The CV has been growing for sometime, drive 580 in the morning, drive Hecker Pass in the morning.

Posted by Garrett on Dec. 03, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

It's in the CV, Delta-adjacent. San Joaquin county is not now nor has it ever been part of the "Bay Area" anymore than Inyo or Mariposa counties are "Bay Area."

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Posted by Bebe on Jul. 12, 2014 @ 10:52 pm

The folks who have been living on the Bulb took the calculated risk that they would some day be told to move along. That day has come, and it should be no surprise. This has been a long, extended process.

This City of Albany has done far more, in a much more measured and humanitarian way, than the vast majorities of other communities would do in this situation. How many other communities would simply send in the cops to forcibly move out the homeless with absolutely nothing done at all for them? Remember, Albany is a small town with limited resources and they are paying quite a bit to provide some level of accommodation in transition.

Those who would need mental health, substance abuse, or medical services are being offered them to help. Those who do not need such support are presumably fully capable of understanding their situation and making arrangements to relocate, including taking advantage of the transitional living quarters offered by the town.

Posted by Realist on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 8:24 am

here because they made the mistake of not immediately evicting these trespassers as soon as they set up camp. Had they practiced zero tolerance from the outset, this would be a non-issue.

Interestingly, the same applies to SF where the homeless should never have been allowed to sleep in GG Park in the first place. By letting things slide on that, the issue becomes a big deal as the itinerants try and claim some bizarre form of squatters' rights.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 8:39 am

Ya'll are a bunch of entitled jerks.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 30, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

... an example you want your kids to learn from how to be cold and tax payers are slaves to paying for our so calld heros who go into other countrys destroy thier bomes kjll thirr people these inocent children being murdered by bombs granades bullefs stray or head on im twenty three was. Ward of the state as a young girl and well has a job and then turnd 18 and they said good by no heads up left homless soon later jobless and over the years became ill with two life discomferts a painthfull death as well as a common cold will kill me some day because the virus know as Aidds will destroy my imunity and the hep c takeing out my liver iv almostlost it once but no you just dont know what its like to be unlucky well iv been and at age twenty three w nkf make jt to see thirty CANT be in peace in an old dump its just so much. SHAME TO SAY BUT LONDON BRIDGES FALLING DOWN FALLING DOWN LONDON BRIDGES FALLING DOWN MY FAIR LADY CEMICAL Wr fare js wbag psopke wkfh no comlatkon anx arr qhick go jhdvs may budda inlivhgin hoj an mah goz bavs mjcy on gohr zojl. ShMefull people aint right with god better get right befor wwiii aka armagedan starts as bave been in war ten years and wont see another thirty years due to pelple wbo ef examples like that lame why should they be anle to live life comfedfable due to people who pay the government to cause our billion dollar debts to other countrys so we csn gi take any and everything thry got worth anything just gi have more and end up with no money for our people now we suffer in poverty because are greedy fuckingnone workung methods an shit if it worked we should be able ti live in peace mh example to theses kids is cometogether as one we can surely do any and everything with eachother the ole saying goesthe more the marrier and we stand together we fall together and wellasid rain an blazzard skies and nucking theme seemd the only way to try and survive wait an see cemical warfare iv got my gas mask where is yours?

Posted by tamara on Dec. 02, 2013 @ 2:42 am


Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2013 @ 8:23 pm

A sterling example of the marriage of public education and technology.

Posted by Chromefields on Dec. 03, 2013 @ 8:01 am

I keep wondering what 'tax payer' dollars have been so thoughtfully spent on the Bulb residents in recent years to make their lives more comfortable? Could we be talking about that single dumpster or the solitary portable pothole at the entrance to the bulb. What services has the generous city of Albany provided? And there are many windy days in the bay area just as their are numerous other places to look at the view. Why if people trying to live (be it a far less comfortable life than your own) offend you do you have to go there and fly your kite. Why not simply fly it somewhere else where reality does not offend you so much.

The fact is that the bulb residents are not homeless and the use of the word 'campers' irritates me because no one camps for 17 years. To describe a people purely in terms of the shelter that surrounds them is just another way to de-humanise ( a necessary and repulsive component of forced internment) They don't all live in tents anyway
Albany didn't get a 'green light.'It created a 'homeless task force' costing a mere $145,000 dollars then the council didn't, to the shock of task force members, didn't even listen to their findings or recommendations. Instead they went quickly into closed session where they secretly voted to evict the Bulb residents.

The residents of the bulb don't rely or connect with social services. They don't rely on tax payer dollars to feed them, or house them or even provide fresh running water. All water has to be carried in. Starting to sound a little third world? Yet I haven't heard any residents complaining. Many make what little money they can recycling scrap metal, they reuse perfectly good items that others through away and a few get social security which isn't enough to live on in the Bay Area. And I challenge anyone who thinks that $8 hundred and something is going to pay rent, utilities, food transportation clothing. Not just the numbers I would like to see someone actually do this..

Out on the Bulb is a very resourceful, unique community of individuals..PEOPLE like you or I that are facing losing everything that matters. the things that really matter in life. Community, belonging, a safe place to sleep, freedom from harassment, safety, the right to live with the person you love, to share your life with an animal companion. These people are NOT homeless they are house less in the traditional sense. Why are we so intolerant of that. Think about it . What happens when a city blindly and forcibly breaks the ties that bond people together, takes away everything that matters and puts them out onto the streets. Have you solved the problem...NO. Have you created something far worse. A homeless population with nothing to lose.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2013 @ 10:19 am

any of our taxpayer money? The message seems clear - if you are homeless but behave with honor by obeying the law, then you get no handouts or special treatment.

But if you break the law, trespass, squat in a park and ruin it for everyone else, then suddenly the taxpayers are supposed to feel so guilty that they throw money at these people?

If you guys want to set up a camp somewhere, then good luck to you. Just do it with the permission of the owner and don't expect our hard-earned dollars to help you do it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2013 @ 10:54 am

The Bulb is a nice remote place away from the prying eyes of the Albany police. It's led to 70 squatters with major meth problems on the Albany Bulb. Makes sense that a major complaint of the campers is they won't have the privacy to do their own thing in the transitional housing. Very concerned with the house rules in the shelter. At least half the campers are meth heads.

The remoteness plays out another way. Although they haul their water in from a faucet at a local park and a couple friendly neighbors, they have no sewage disposal for the poo poo. They have buckets they use as latrines but really where can you haul that for disposal? Well you can't so you have buckets of crap dumped on the banks of SF Bay and the regional water pollution authorities telling the City of Albany to stop it (City owns the land). Of course that problem is only one of the actual costs that the campers demand the City resolve by installing dumpsters and porta potties. But the comment above says they aren't imposing costs on anybody and claim its all benign. Let them do their own thing? Sadly they are. Ewh...

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

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