CBS Evening News has reignited interest in Slab City – the off-grid community near Los Angeles. It is celebrating its 20th anniversary and is growing steadily as a result of foreclosure victims looking for a place with few rules, where they can get on with life undisturbed.
The 2000 residents are gathered in the desert around concrete slabs placed there during WW2, living in tents, trailers, elderly mobile homes and other dwellings made from found materials.
There are no municipal services, no streetlights and no water or sewage service, reports the LA Times in a follow-up piece to CBS. “But nobody charges rent or collects fees or tries to impose homeowner covenants.”
“It has a post-apocalyptic look and we like it that way,” said Don Case, 41, who worked as a chef in Colorado and is planning to move to Alaska — someday. “It’s peaceful here, people have it together.”
CBS’s Ben Tracy reports that it is “home base for more and more people who can`t afford to live anywhere else.”
Vince Neill parked his RV here two months ago, along with his wife and six kids. He recently lost his audio-visual business and their home in Modesto, California.
Neill tells CBS: “I would apply to 30 to 40 jobs a day online, and there was just nothing.” He could no longer afford to stay at an RV park and his family lives on food stamps and money from odd jobs.
“I`ve always wore a shirt and tie, worked in an office, had a nice car and house. But we lost pretty much everything.”
There is a church, a music venue called the Range, and even an Internet cafe. But electricity comes from the sun. There is no sewer, no running water. A hole in the ground is the only shower for miles.
Another family told CBS they came here because they cannot afford to heat their house in Washington state this winter
The community is spread over about 600 acres of rutted roads and bushes. To the west is Niland (population 1,100) and the Salton Sea. To the east is the Coachella Canal (ripe with catfish) and the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range used by the Navy.
“This is the last truly free place in America,” said Jim Merton, 54, who spends the winter at Slab City and the summer in Washington. “I can smoke some weed, drink some beer, be loud and rowdy, skinny-dip in the canal, and there’s nobody to tell me I can’t have fun.”
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