In Oakland, California there are numerous abandoned lots throughout much of the city. Many of these properties have unpaid taxes that exceed the market value of the property. This has created a situation where neither the owner of record not government agencies are able to make productive use of these properties within existing market or governmental structures. Simply put these abandoned lots exist in a permanent state of legal limbo. The city of Oakland does not have the resources to use eminent domain, and because the city does not possess title to these properties previous efforts by community groups to access these properties have likewise been unsuccessful. As these lots lie vacant, the Bay Area is in the midst of a historic housing crisis.
However Land Action has been successful establishing projects on these sites using their experience occupying abandoned properties. With Land Action’s knowledge and strategies architects Carl Petersen and Marcus Owens have developed a design for a “tiny-house” with a square footage below the requirements for any permitting from the city. This house is constructed of free and low-cost materials but provides a safe and healthy living space and can be placed on a lot with one or two other structures, including one functioning as a “wet house” featuring a flush toilet, shower, and kitchen.
These structures are part of a larger vision of an urban micro-farming network that utilizes untapped and otherwise inaccessible resources while providing housing in a region where low income housing is difficult to access. The Land Action garden at 3700 West Street in Oakland is based on this concept.
By providing rent free housing in exchange for stewardship Land Action will seek to collaborate with activists engaged in housing struggles as well as environmental and health concerns.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (February 2015)