Free Slab City

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Please provide a general outline of the city and its neighborhoods/boroughs/parts of town, including information about political leanings, police forces, population, income levels, social services, etc.

Slab City or The Slabs located at coordinates 33.15.32 North 115.27.59 West is a free camp in the Colorado Desert in southern California. It gets its name from the slabs of concrete that permeate. These slabs are the remnants of an old military base. There is no charge to camp and people may stay indefinitely. The oppressive heat in the summer drives away most travelers, but there is a small group of people who live there year round. The population thus is in a constant state of flux, but in the cooler months of January and February is about 600-800. People come and go, staying for a few days or a few months.

The place attracts an equal amount of upper class retired RVers and younger homeless people, so there are any number of different political leanings. A person can often find a group of people who shares his or her beliefs. There are no police stations near Slab City, but a car will patrol the city every now and then. The Border patrol can be seen daily, but they rarely make contact with the citizenry.

Food stamps can be easily obtained, and if you register as homeless during the application process, you qualify for a year of food stamps without having to report in or file quarterly updates.

Housing[edit]

Free housing, shelters and hostels, etc.

Housing exists in the form of trailers, tents, cars and RVs. Because of the constant rotation of new people, campers or other shells for living in can be had for free in the summer after people abandon them when they leave. Campers and trailers are harder to come by in February and March because most seasonal people have already bought them up. Many people use tents, but even crude structures can be built out of lumber. It rains very seldomly and rarely gets near freezing at night, so sleeping under the stars is also an option.

Food[edit]

Free/low-cost markets, produce, butchers, day-old bakeries, Food banks, missions, church meals, etc.

Supplies can be purchased in nearby Niland, California, located some three miles (5 km) to the southwest, but these stores can be quite expensive. 18 miles south on highway 111 is a town called Brawley that has a few larger grocery stores. 42 miles south of the Slabs is El Centro, which has a large selection of stores to choose from.

People with no transportation can get rides into town from other people for free or for some gas money.

There is a kitchen called Karma Kitchen that serves free food once a week. Several free kitchens have existed in the past that fed more often, but many disband quickly. The food bank donates food every so often, so some of that can be obtained for free.

Medical Care[edit]

Planned parenthood, free clinics, free medical advice, Medicare resources, low-cost clinics, etc.

Information[edit]

The site is both decommissioned and uncontrolled, and there is no charge for parking. The camp has no electricity, no running water or other services. Many campers use generators or solar panels to generate electricity. The Sun Works is a small shop that sells solar panels, batteries and other accessories right off the main road in.

People often construct makeshift toilets. Water can be obtained from town or from the nearby Coachella canal. You can also rent large water containers and pay to have them filled by a man who drives through the Slabs often.

There are a couple places one can go to access the internet and to charge electronic devices. Freedom cafe will usually charge one dollar for a day's use, whether it's five minutes or five hours.

Weather is an important thing to consider. October and May average in the high 80s/low 90s, so unless you can brave hot temperatures with no air conditioning, you should consider staying away until November and leaving around April. The winds at night can sometimes be severe, so it's important to keep your things tied securely down. Rain is seldom and snow is extremely rare.

It is important to note that the economy is based heavily on barter and trade. Many people have little money, so trading goods or services is common. Since there is little money to be spent, prices for things can be very cheap. Coming with some extra money or a skill/trade can be highly beneficial.

Socializing is important. Not only do you meet awesome people, but building connections is essential for finding items to make your stay comfortable.

Drugs are widespread, with marijuana being the most common. Due to the lack of all but the occasional law enforcement presence, marijuana is consumed openly in almost all areas. LSD is available and the county is known for its methamphetamine use, though this is rarely seen in the Slabs.

The Range is a live music venue that plays every Saturday night. Anyone can sign up to play each week.

Miscellaneous[edit]

The Slab City Christian Center, a non-denominational church led by Pastor Phil Hyatt, holds services every Sunday. All are welcome. [1]

There are a few paid clubs you can join. Membership gives you discounts on their paid meal days and other benefits. These clubs can turn into cliques from time to time, which can lead to squabbling.

Crime is rare. Theft is not a big problem and while there is a small amount of violence, it is usually limited to drunken altercations. Common sense should be taken with valuable items, but many people do not feel the need to lock up their possessions.

There is a Border Patrol station a few miles north on 111, so take care when transporting drugs to and fro or just simply don't do it. Drugs can be obtained easily enough in the city. Don't even try to live here if you're an illegal immigrant as the Border Patrol drive through often and non-whites are rare.

Hanging around the skate park can be sketchy at times as it is the first place most young people crash at when arriving. The police will sometimes show up on Saturday nights during the Range, so try not to get too wasted as the pigs can charge you with being drunk in public.

Public Transit[edit]

No services exist at all. If you need to get to the nearest town, you are either going to need a car, hitch or pay for a ride, or be an experienced desert environment cyclist.

Assorted Freebies[edit]

See Assorted Freebies Section, provide details for this city, including other topics. Whatever fits and is useful.

A primitive par 3 golf course is located near the city. A free library provides a hit or miss selection of books in varying conditions. A little jaunt down the road towards Niland yields a free public hot springs that people use to bathe and relax in. Most people are nude when they enter, so be advised if this sort of thing makes you uncomfortable.

Salvation Mountain is a giant hillside art piece painted opulently by Leonard Knight. It teems with tourists on the weekends who will then take a tour of the Slabs in their nice cars and gawk at the residents like a zoo exhibit, so be advised of that.

Charities will hand out food and give away lots of secondhand goods. A Christian group usually does this once a month, an event known affectionately as the "hobo lottery."

Just beyond the Slabs is an unsightly collection of old or broken items known as the Debris Field. While some useful things can be picked up there, you're more likely to find broken glass and unrecyclable tin cans. There is a recycling center in town, so a vigilant and diligent person can collect a large amount of aluminum cans or plastic bottles to turn into cash.