Food justice collective Phat Beets Produce stands in solidarity with Albany Bulb residents’ resistance to being displaced from the land they call home. We find the current residents of the Albany Bulb to be environmental stewards of the land and resources there and consider any removal of these residents as an affront to our natural rights to live in interdependence with land, free from the false choice of having to buy housing or live on the streets.
While seemingly a positive urban greening project, incorporation of Albany Bulb into the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park system — overseen by the East Bay Regional Park District — doesn’t serve the needs of Bulb residents, but rather those invested in developments that will profit from proximity to a nearby green space. Development of areas where houseless people call home is a classic selective-investment strategy and displacement technique all-too-familiar in the Bay Area and world-wide. Similar to the process of gentrification sweeping through Oakland, such strategies see that groups and regions are catered to, accommodated and invested in depending on income-level and perceived political power. Investing in people and affordable housing, rather than waterfront parks, is a clear first step toward a solution with Bulb residents. But instead, in this case, greenwashing is used as a subtle, seemingly innocent guise for the project of development and displacement.
While park incorporation will further benefit Albany residents who will be able to more easily access the park for recreation — Albany Bulb is already great for recreation though! — it is detrimental to current residents who will be pushed out, left without shelter and eventually criminalized for being on the streets. We see this process consistent with the criminalization of poor people who are told that their survival is illegal, made more evident by police evictions and the no-camping ordinance imposed on residents of the Bulb. These methods of displacement are supported by local “environmental” groups such as Citizens for East Shore Park, who have been pushing for state park incorporation for years. The people are a part of the environment, never separate!
The City of Albany, while attempting to relocate residents of the Bulb, cannot guarantee anything in the way of higher quality and safer living situations than what Bulb residents have already created for themselves there. This perpetuates the problem of houselessness that the City of Albany has found no adequate solution for and undermines the self-determination of Bulb residents to address their own needs collectively. Displacing residents of the Bulb in order to create a park is inconsistent with principles of the public good, compassion and justice, all of which the City should be concerned with first and foremost. Instead, by developing Albany Bulb into a state park and displacing residents, we are seeing the next phase of displacement tactics: greenwashing.
Support Albany Bulb residents! End displacement through greenwashing! Sign the “Share the Bulb” Petition to Stop the Evictions!