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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Enclosure-Occupations: Contested Productions of Green Space & the Paradoxes within Oakland, California’s Green City

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Burger Boogaloo is an annual rock concert that has taken place in Mosswood Park since 2013. Every year a portion of the park is gated and closed off to the general public. Events like Burger Boogaloo are representative of a growing entertainment industry using public parks to cater to a new influx of wealthy residents in Oakland and beyond. At the same time, Mosswood Park has struggled with homeless encampments which impact park use; it is emblematic of a city and state experiencing an increase in unsheltered (homeless) residents as a result of a housing crisis. Based on observations, interviews, public meetings, and municipal documents, this work examines how residents are negotiating the realities and the pitfalls of Oakland’s transition to becoming a green city and its implementation of an urban environmental/sustainable agenda during an accompanying volatile gentrification process. This study focuses on a small but highly used green space that is crucial to the local community in which tensions between park use, the commodification of park space, and lack of public park funding are made visible on the landscape. This paper looks at two types of enclosure-occupations: one from above, government sanctioned events which allow for the temporary enclosure of park space for private events, and the other from below, informal extralegal encampments of unsheltered residents. While those who participate in these enclosure-occupations have vastly different economic, political, and social power, both enclosure-occupations simultaneously create openings for some while constricting public park access for others.

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