The longtime residents of an extraordinary artist community in
I first stumbled upon the community of
An assortment of neighborhoods lying at the border of
The declared motive behind the actions of State Parks is to restore the land to its "natural state." They claim that their intention is to connect the coastal region to
Bernt believes that the State Parks have a much less ethical plan up their sleeve: to do business with developers. Developers have always had an eye on
Although the community in question only encompasses 2% of the total parcel of bought land, State Parks has mounted an aggressive policy to uproot its occupants, bulldoze their homes and reshape the land according to its own particular ideals. Arundo, a type of Bamboo that has come to define the landscape, has become a pivotal point of controversy to parallel the peoples’ own struggle. One of many plants considered "non-native" by State Parks, the plant has been condemned for removal by means of herbicide. The original herbicide in use, Round Up, contains Glyphosate, a cancer-causing agent hazardous to humans. Residents and environmentalists have fought the plan with varied success. Aside from the complete disregard for the health of the community, some residents are dismayed by what they view as the destruction of a familiar and treasured plant. Pablo Capra, a poet, journalist and publisher, feels particularly strongly on this issue. "This plant in particular, I feel very connected to, and it just seems to me like the most native plant to this neighborhood. Because I grew up here, I used to climb them." He grieves the loss of the memorable Arundo tunnels that are now reduced to refuse along trails by State Park contractors. Although the plant originated in
The daily struggle to remain in their homes and confront officials of the State has taken a harsh toll on the well-being of the residents. Many suffer from depression at the thought of losing their homes. Most notably, the struggle resulted in the tragic loss of three people, Arthur King Zimmerman, John Fowler and Jerry Greenwood who died from causes their loved ones directly attribute to the stress and threat of eviction. The Pacific Relocation Consultants (PRC), who were hired by State Parks in 2001 to assist residents in finding comparable living situations largely failed in their attempts, namely because no such equivalent living situation exists. Coliene Rentmeester, a resident of 22 years, came to live here for the tranquility and natural beauty that
Although some of the holdouts are uncomfortably resigned to their fate, others are fiercely determined to fight to the end. Beth Van de Wouw, whose house became an unexpected legacy from her husband’s grandfather, vows that she will climb the palm tree outside her window and refuse to come down, should the officials come to evict her. "I’m not just fighting for me, I’m fighting for this family," she states. Bert Capra too, remains one of the most cheerfully defiant of the bunch. He considers State Parks his landlord and cites precedents (such as the Trippet Ranch in the 1970s) in which rentals were allowed to cohabit peacefully the State Park land. He strongly believes in the success of the community’s quest for survival.
One can only hope, for all our sakes, that he is right. The artistic contributions and love of the land that distinguish the community are striking testimony to its value, as is its role as a rare and much-needed conscience for the world today.