Albany City Council votes to develop the Gill Tract

July 10, 2012 7:44:18 AM PDT
In Albany a land grab by occupiers brought out a huge crowd. The dispute is over a piece of land owned by UC Berkeley called the Gill Tract at Marin and San Pablo avenues.

Occupy The Farm members passed out squash and pickles they say they harvested and jarred over the weekend. On the East Bay shoreline, six acres of land is a lot of land and that is what they are fighting over.

The majority of people at the meeting wanted Albany to reject to development plan and keep the land open for community farming.

UC Berkeley, which owns the land, is planning a 6,075 unit senior housing complex with stores and a 55,000 square foot Whole Foods market, but the highly publicized Occupy The Farm movement has gained a lot of support from the community.

"I have witnessed families farming together, hands connected to the Earth, parents teaching their children the kind of lessons that are denied to most of us who live in an urban environment," said Suzi Spangenberg, an Occupy The Farm supporter.

"The choices for our retired members who live in Albany is to move 60 miles away, away from their kids, away from their grandchildren to find some place to live. This is one of the few opportunities I'll have to have senior housing," said John Dalrymple, a development supporter.

Many of the people who attended the meeting question whether most seniors can afford the housing, which does not include low income housing units. They also wonder how many people who could really afford Whole Foods prices.

Occupy The Farm activists wanted to turn the land into an urban farm, but on May 22, 2012 the university chased them out and arrested nine demonstrators.

The council voted Monday night to adopt the development plan. It passed 4-1 and a second hearing will be scheduled for July 16.


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