Life off the grid takes on a new meaning in the stretch of desert land known as “Slab City.” There are no municipal services, no streetlights, no water or sewage service, no rent and no fees, but it is home to several hundreds of people who have left their lives behind to take up residence in what could aptly be described as a shantytown. The effects of the recession are partially to blame as one reason people move to this desolate area, as they simply can’t afford to go elsewhere and Slab City provides a community of sorts. Tents, trailers, aging mobile homes and other ad hoc dwellings are dispersed over 600 acres and while US Postal Service won’t deliver, there is internet and cell phone service available. The LA Times points out:
“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. During World War II, the Slab City site was Camp Dunlap, a Marine artillery training base. But ownership of the acreage passed to the state in the 1950s. Even when it had money, the state government never showed much interest in Slab City. A plan to sell the site to a San Diego developer in the 1990s fell through; so did an idea by Imperial County to turn it into an RV camping ground.”
Local law enforcement in Imperial County has indicated that the tent city doesn’t require much attention and that people who live in the region just want to be unencumbered by the trappings of modern life and make due with the little they have.
CBS News filed the following report: