Public Comment

The Sierra Club and the Albany Bulb

By Lydia Gans
Thursday October 24, 2013 - 08:17:00 PM

The backlash against the Sierra Club for joining with Citizens for East Shore Parks in lobbying to incorporate the Bulb into East Shore State Park is not surprising. The San Francisco Bay Chapter, in the May issue of their newspaper, the Yodeler, states the rationale for their action. It gives a very troubling image of the group. The story is titled “Changing the Albany Bulb – creating a bright spot on the East Bay Shoreline”. Apparently in order to “create a bright spot” the first step requires evicting the people who are camping there, people for whom the Bulb is their home. Why is this Sierra Club chapter participating in evicting people? The mission of the Sierra Club is the maintenance and protection of the environment for the enjoyment of the people. It does not mean only certain people, only the“right kind” of people. 

In going over some of the Bulb history, the Yodeler article says; “In the 1990's people started camping illegally on the Bulb, and in 1999 the city and the Park District removed that camper population, but the land was again left unprotected …” From what, or from whom did the land need to be protected? From people who cared for it as their home, who planted trees, made trails, worked at mitigating rebar and concrete hazards on the site? Protected from people who created works of art out of found materials, set up and operated a free lending library? 

Over the years the police occasionally sent homeless people from the streets out to the Bulb but otherwise the city of Albany pretty much ignored the camp. Some churches and community organizations and local citizens who enjoyed the place regularly brought food and supplies to the campers. The Sierra Club never took an interest in them. Other than contract with Berkeley Food And Housing Project to provide “Outreach and Engagement” the city has done nothing for the campers. Albany has no homeless shelters and apparently little or no affordable housing – only one of the 60 or so campers has been housed. 

One might ask the question, why now? Why do the Sierra Club and Citizens for East Shore Parks demand the Bulb incorporated into the Park at this time? The Bulb juts out from the shoreline and would not be an integral part of the Park nor would any section of the Bay trail go through the Bulb. With a few amenities such as toilets and running water and possibly some help in getting rid of the rebar and concrete it could continue to serve as a campground - at least until Albany can provide proper housing for homeless.