What Will Happen To Slab City?

“The last free place on earth is no longer going to be free!”

—Anonymous

This is not true. But it was the general sentiment of many speaking their minds at the inaugural meeting of the Slab City Community Group, Inc. on Sunday, January 19, 2014 held at The Range. If they paid their dollar that is.

slab city community meeting

Let me back up. There are a lot of rumors about Slab City going around these days, and what might happen to the land the state is reportedly trying to sell. Reported by whom? Good question! I won’t pretend to know many facts about what is going on, but I do know one thing for certain. Public information about the formation of a non-profit organization that could take ownership of the property in a land trust deal with the State of California is severely lacking.

Land Trust:

(As it relates to what may or may not happen with Slab City)

A private, nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements.

What Land Trust deal? With whom? When? Such a lack of information results in outrage when people jump to conclusions about what might come of their home, or favorite winter destination. And that’s exactly what happened at the meeting we attended.

slab city meeting at the range

One of the first points of order at the first meeting of any official 501c3 corporation is to read rules about certain actions the Board may or may not take in their line of duty. Even before electing Directors, the interim Board at this meeting did just that. When they got to the part about the organization having the ability to acquire property, suddenly that’s what the meeting became all about. No such item was on the agenda for the day’s meeting—the sole purpose of which was to form the corporation and elect a Bord of Directors. And that they did.

Why form a Slab City Community Associatoin?

Why? That’s a great question too!

slab city meeting agenda

Those involved with the association’s formation profess the state of California can no longer own the land on which the slabs sit, and will be putting it up for auction if they cannot gift it to a nonprofit organization willing to take ownership—and take on stewardship—of the property and surrounding area. Who contacted who first, how true this is, and what proof exists is up open for discussion.

On the other side of The Slabs one resident reported speaking with a CA State Land Commission rep who said:

“The EPA has made NO threat about Slab City… [and] The Land Commission has not tried to sell or auction Section 36 in at least 15 years.”

Apparently the only concern with section 36 is a complaint filed by the CA Dept. of Toxic Substances Control regarding dried paint cans lying around at Salvation Mountain and the structure’s crumbling condition. But I digress.

Other nagging questions remain. Who’s idea was it to form the association? Who was this interim Board and who got elected? Are they all Slab City residents?  What constitutes a resident? Are they in agreement about this intentional community? I doubt that last one.

What information I could gather, I gleaned from two groups on the Faceborg, the Slab City website and by word of mouth.

What I Do Know

The best documented report I found of what’s going on with the SCCG and what the future brings for The Slabs is this document:

Four Questions for the Slab City Community Group

From my own personal experience, I only know that a Board of Directors was elected at the meeting after we left. Exactly who? I have no idea, nor could I find out where the group is keeping its public records.

I hear their first meeting is scheduled for a few weeks when they will discuss the formation of a Slab City Bill of Rights. That’s a start, but is it necessary?

One thing is clear. Factions have formed, and as one old timer at the Slabs personally told me, what we have here is, “A Family Divided”.

Factions will feud. There’s plenty of that going on in the groups, but I have heard of no physical retaliation that has been known to occur at Slab City in the past. Hopefully everyone can help develop a solution to any land deal if one exists, or at least agree to disagree and move on.

slab city burned out rv

According to their Facebook Group, the Slab City Community Group was formed years ago, “born out of a desire to ‘Say No To Violence’ at Slab City (or The Slabs)”. This informal group of f Slab City residents and visitors has a simple mission:

“To provide a forum for people to share information about and connect with people at Slab City, California.”

Fair enough. Hopefully none of the rants and flame wars going on between those in disagreement about the future of The Slabs and formation of any sort of governing body won’t ignite any actual flames.

About that Dollar

For the record, I am not taking sides on this issue. While I do believe seasonal snowbird slabbers like me do have an interest in whatever happens, I also understand how full-time residents of The Slabs have much more at stake regarding the results.

That’s why I paid my dollar to speak at the SCCG inaugural meeting. OK, it wasn’t my dollar. But I wanted to ask a couple procedural ensure this group was being founded legally and they were playing by the rules—Robert’s Rules of Order, that is. And they were. But I didn’t have any cash on me, and one had to be a member to address the interim board. the annual membership fee is one dollar. A kind slabber paid my buck for me. Then Rene suggested I maintain a lower profile.

military helicopter over the slabs

Epilogue

What if the Slabbers do buy the Slabs? Great! But do they know what they’re getting into? And will they share the details with their entire membership in a timely manner as their bylaws dictate? Let’s hope so.

If the State does grant the land to some organization, it may only be doing so to release itself of liability and place responsibility for said land on such a group. What’s to keep them from turning around and insisting the area be cleaned up? Or worse yet, regulated. Can you imagine Slab City Homeowners Assoociation rules of conduct?

If there is no deal, and the State moves forward with an auction of BLM Section 36, will anyone buy it? Nobody has jumped at that chance for 50 years so far.

blah art east jesus slab city

What do you think? Better yet, what do you know?

UPDATES:

02/15/14: An objective and detailed update on the state of affairs from the Imperial Valley Press

Residents of America’s “last free place” divided over future

 

5 thoughts on “What Will Happen To Slab City?”

  1. We used to live there about 14 years ago. The land there was, or is, owned by the teachers union and it’s free land.

    Later we had been told it can never be bought nor taken by the state nor the government because it is under the control of the teachers union.

    We didn’t live down by poverty flats, we live up by Buggy Bob and Outback Jerry and Canadian John.
    Many of the people who lived there year round were completely nuts, immoral, n on drugs n there were several alcoholics.

    There were hardly any police except for when they came for the the murders that happened but there were border patrol that cane around, but they didn’t harass Mexicans, they harassed the white people.
    The only question the border patrol were supposed to ask is if we are USA citizens but they over stepped their authority if they could.

    And the big round (building?) was the water tower for the military when it was there. Moth stayed in it.

    The huge deep holes in the ground is where the military bombed.

    There’s still military shells and Undetonated bombs still around and there’s tank tracks indented in the sand still from when the military had been there.
    It’s filled with cactus, rattlesnakes, black widows, glowing green scorpions, brown scorpions, wind spiders, coyotes, bees, terrible ants, fuzzy white poisonous spiders, kangaroo rats and crazy people! LOL mostly All things that poke or sting.

    We had to go get our own water from town in water tanks and gasoline for the generator.

    And if they didn’t like someone …they would threaten to run their stuff over or burn them down or kill them or they just went ahead and did it.

    2 Men had a fight over a gallon of gasoline beating each other, one with a crowbar and the other with a hammer and one killed the other over a stupid gallon of gasoline!

    One man got buried alive but he lived by digging his hand out.

    The woman who had owned the library years ago is buried there. It’s not a rumor, it’s actually the truth.

    Some man shot a two year old in the back of the head and buried her.
    A couple people living at the end of the slabs going toward the bees….one of the people who shot the mean man was the guys girlfriend, and his friend.
    The big mouth mean guy, that was shot, more than deserved it and the two who shot him got 7 years in prison.

    A guy named Moth who lived in the water tank wore a blue Jean skirt over his pants, had long hair and blue eyes, and was a partier.

    A woman named One Can lived there down on poverty flats and could tell you all about everything and everyone there at one time.

    There was a guy named bob the welder who was pretty helpful with info.

    Since we left, Leonard died but when we were there, he was very deaf, but he didn’t really know The Bible.

    The people there ran the preachers at the church off, they wanted nothing to do with the love of Messiah let alone the one that is coming to judge for continued sin and expects repentance.

    There were several people that would steal what they could get away with stealing.
    Even the guy that would get the mail for everyone.

    Seriously not many there can be trusted, so many were backstabbing and conniving people and didn’t understand what being honorable is.

    This sweet man had only been there a week when he was threatened and not only threatened but they ran his stuff over and he was just the sweetest guy. He had an English accent. He came and told my husband and I before he left that he couldn’t take the pure meaness and hatred anymore.

    We ourselves were mostly left alone and got along with others but we knew this was mostly a place of the unrepented who did not want to repent.
    We made lots of friends outside of the slabs and still friends with them today but I doubt we will ever go back to the slabs.
    We gave a big park model RV to a Mexican couple with children and some of their other family members n we always wonder about them and how they are doing. They hardly spoke English.

    We always wonder who may have gotten our spot we were staying at. We had a pond with a fountain. It was kind of deep and filled with water and it drowned the scorpions cuz they fell in n couldn’t get back out.
    It was a nice little set up but we had our friends come and get our things we had there when we were leaving. I think they left the utility poles we had put up though.
    We had wry pretty lights all around us.

    And there was a cement basement but someone had filled it with trash. Sad.

    We were digging to put a pool in but we left before we finished it.

    We had lots of plants and huge wooden containers with potting dirt in them. We put palm branches in a dead tree for shade and military nets in the tree also. We had a large wood covering all around and over the RV with pulled tight shade cloth on it and nice bamboo fences.
    We also put the military razor wire around the place because the guy that got shot by his friends would come to our camp on a 4 wheeler and aggravate us because he had wanted us to stay down by his camp and we didn’t want to. He kicked over our cross we had up cuz he was mad about it. He was a very bad tempered man.

    We were glad to leave there but it was an experience we will not forget.

    The song
    “Dead Man Walking” was in Niland and the Slabs. We thought the song was very fitting for that place. Though that song could have been anywhere in the world and still been sadly appropriate.

    Much Shalom to everyone and we pray that the people there, and everywhere for that matter, would turn their heads toward Messiah and repent of all their unrighteousness and cause restoration to their past making amends for any dirty deed they may have done if they can, and stay repented in their present and future. Big Hugs ! 🤍🕊🙏🏼

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  2. We are watching with interest of what happens too.

    we have only visited once, but have multiple groups of friends who stay there all winter, and one couple we know who stays all year round (she is elected to the board)

    hope it can stay the way it is…but. ..

    “these times they are a changing”….

    sigh.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard
    http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com
    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

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