March 2, 2023
Berkeley’s volunteer-operated, non-profit radical community center Long Haul is threatened with displacement by a proposal to demolish its building to build an 8-story, $40-50 million housing development.
Long Haul has been located at 3124 Shattuck Avenue since 1979. Long Haul operates a radical library, historical archive and community center that hosts meetings, events and grassroots organizations such as Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution (NEED), Slingshot collective, East Bay Co-housing, Sunrise Movement, Reprographixxx Print Room and the Anarchist Study Group. Long Haul’s public reading room is open 6 days a week and is a locus of mutual aid and resistance culture. During open hours anyone can find a place to sit and socialize free of charge without the need to buy anything. Free food is available 2 nights a week. Harm reduction supplies are available 6 days a week. Long Haul always provides a free public toilet to anyone who needs one. Long Haul’s radical historical archive contains thousands of titles spanning radical activism from the 1960s on-ward, with special emphasis on under-represented periods such as the 1980s, 1990s, and beyond.
In early January, 2023, Long Haul’s landlord Northern California Land Trust (“NCLT”) surprised Long Haul by announcing that it was seeking to tear down the 3120-3130 Shattuck building (cross street Woolsey), which contains Long Haul and the Homeless Action Center. NCLT held a neighborhood meeting via zoom in January about the proposal. Long Haul learned that NCLT has been developing plans for the development for over a year. With no notice to Long Haul, NCLT submitted an SB330 application to the City of Berkeley on December 13, 2022. (Copy available upon Request.) Without communicating with its tenants, NCLT applied for and was awarded a $1 million grant from the California Energy Commission to pay for design and pre-development cost.
Ironically, NCLT’s offices were at Long Haul when the space began in 1979, according to Long Haul’s founder Alan Haber. (Haber also started 1960s New Left organization Students for a Democratic Society in 1960.) Haber stated that it was at Long Haul’s urging that NCLT purchased the 3120-3130 Shattuck building in 1984. Long Haul has an indefinite lease and has paid rent on-time for 30 years.
NCLT seeks to begin construction in mid-2024. However NCLT has not yet secured financing for the development.
Long Haul is having ongoing internal discussions to decide how to respond to the development proposal and is seeking community support to avoid displacement.
While Long Haul is under threat, it is still open and active. Long Haul invites the community to use its resources and schedule an event in its meeting room.
“The City of Berkeley has long prided itself on the presence of unique spaces like this that are unapologetically radical and grassroots and which allow people to interact and pursue their projects autonomously and without the barriers of commerce or supervisory authorization,” said a Long Haul volunteer. “The preservation of Long Haul is essential for Berkeley to remain weird and for it to remain distinctively Berkeley.”