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Re: “Artists Who Survived Oakland Warehouse Fire Discuss The Tragedy, Those Missing, Need for Safe Underground Spaces

I'm sorry, but there's absolutely no excuse for this. If you want to be an artist and live on your own in a dangerous warehouse illegally modified for live/work purposes, then fine. But the moment you have your kids live there, or start renting uninhabitable and unsafe living space to others, or start holding paid events for tens or hundreds of people, then you are endangering people, and whether you profited or not, that's absolutely criminal. Just because you're a "starving artist," which doesn't seem to be the case with almena, doesn't give you license to endanger other human beings.

And let's be clear here, the promoters and performers at these events are also liable, even if they're performing for free, it's criminal to have the public see your show at a thoroughly unsafe space. If they hadn't been there before, they should have just cancelled when they saw how unsafe it was. I remember going to a warehouse party in SF in the early 90's, where there was a second floor accessable by a wooden ladder, and I said to my friends: I'm not going up there, how the hell do you get down if there's a problem? Some of my friends went up anyway, nothing happened of course, but still promoters and performers should know better and bear responsibility.

Furthermore, the city's negligence on this matter is inexcusable.

Posted by Damian C on 12/06/2016 at 1:32 AM

Re: “'I Genuinely Thought I Was Going To Die': Reddit User Describes Terrifying Escape From Oakland Warehouse Fire

Original reddit post unedited: http://howldb.com/p/oakland-fire-survivor-writes-harrowing-account-about-how-he-escaped-on-reddit-daily-mail-0rf4py

Posted by Terese Iaquinta on 12/06/2016 at 1:15 AM

Re: “'I Genuinely Thought I Was Going To Die': Reddit User Describes Terrifying Escape From Oakland Warehouse Fire

The skipped (or I missed it) the beginning of his original post where he said there was someone telling people to stay upstairs. Clearly evacuation was needed but someone instructed people not to evacuate. This is an important part of the situation. Needs to be told.

Posted by Terese Iaquinta on 12/06/2016 at 1:12 AM

Re: “Artists Who Survived Oakland Warehouse Fire Discuss The Tragedy, Those Missing, Need for Safe Underground Spaces

There's a great deal of interesting comments present. However, even at a time like this, the old adage applies: "opinions are like A"& H%&!*...everybody's got one..." Listen, folks, at the end of the day two things are black and white (no pun intended with the particular political climate we are in currently). 1. reality suggests various forms of greed was holistically very much present within the composition of not only this "urban, cultural, underground safe space", but many others where you would not expect to find it, even when humbled by the presence of such pure, creative and minimalist guests. 2. Attorneys hired by victims' families will cast a "wide" net of financial liability, based on black and white "real responsibilty", according to laws we all must live by. The fire was gender, color, religious, cultural, social-blind. So too will be personal injury/death, etc. law, once applied.

Without further ado, and as another old adage dictates: "follow the money.....", cause that's what the lawyers are doing yesterday for the victims' families, as well as the building owners, tenants, city and county officials, etc. running for cover. Only difference in the immediate aforementioned is acquirement and protection of assets.

Tectonic Tom

Posted by senior swami on 12/06/2016 at 1:12 AM

Re: “'I'm Going To Get My Gun': Event Organizers at Ghost Ship Accused Derick Almena of Theft, Threats

its about what can be expected in a situation like that. Maybe this guy isn't a saint but if your running a 'business' or a 'counter culture' center that caters to financially challenged and unemployed aspiring artists then your going to also get alot of low class types that are just there to take advantage of the situation, then what are you supposed to do? be the 'pig' that's always bitching and a stik in the mud, no one in that scene wants to be the 'man' or the authority, everyone wants to be the cool , laid bakc dude. so the rest of these characers who decided to party in such a place all night KNOW the risks, they know situations like this have ended in chaos. now everyone is just pointing fingers at the 'bad guy', what was he supposed to do? He wasn't one of the people 'living' there illegally.

Posted by Sam Khoury on 12/06/2016 at 12:40 AM

Re: “Couple In Charge of Ghost Ship Lost Kids to Child Protective Services While Living in Oakland Warehouse

There's gotta be other solutions than renting space in a dilapidated warehouse. I think all parties need to assume responsibility (owner of building for allowing this, guys who ran the collective, people that chose to live there, city for turning a blind eye). How much were people paying for space in a warehouse with substandard conditions? Why can't you rent a $1,400/mo one bedroom with 2 roommates? There are places like that out there.

Posted by aldigator on 12/05/2016 at 9:28 PM

Re: “Operator of 'Ghost Ship' Lived Inside Site of Oakland Warehouse Fire with Wife, Children, Was on Probation

I read the article and it doesn't really say that this man owns the building. It gives the impression that he was leasing it and living in it and rented it out for music/dance parties. None of his arrests were for arson. It would seem to me that the owner of the building is responsible for its condition and should never have been rented out or less to anyone.

Posted by Becky Winslow on 12/05/2016 at 9:07 PM

Re: “Artists Who Survived Oakland Warehouse Fire Discuss The Tragedy, Those Missing, Need for Safe Underground Spaces

George: "There is no excuse --none-- for not having a sprinkler system, accessible exits, and an up-to-code stairway. High rents, marginalized status, or persecution do not excuse the failure to foresee a catastrophic fire."

Black-and-white blame statements like this are so deaf to the reality of what it's like to try to attain "assembly space" occupancy, which most state fire codes require for spaces that host concerts. For starters, venues that seek assembly occupancy are required to install fire sprinklers, which cost tens of thousands of dollars. Try convincing you slumlord (in any state, in any housing market) to spring for that, just to keep the artist community they could care less about from closing its doors. Try raising that money yourself, from other minimum-wage workers like yourself, for a building you don't own. If you somehow managed to do that, try preventing your landlord from kicking you out for a commercial nightclub tenant who can pay higher rent now that the space has sprinklers.

If you manage to contact the fire department without being immediately shut down, good luck navigating their interpretation of the fire code, which (in any state) is incredibly nebulous, and up to the interpretation of your local fire marshal. Each venue, depending on square footage, layout, levels, etc. is required to construct different numbers of exits, at various ends of the building, at enormous cost. Again, try "standing up to your landlord" to "demand" those kinds of renovations, when your landlord doesn't even care if you have steady electricity.

George, you said, "This is a wake-up call not only to those in the underground scene but to all landlords, owners, and promoters that their first priority should be the physical safety of those who use the premises."

Wouldn't that be a luxury??! Ask anyone whose life has been changed whose life has been saved by the communities that thrive in spaces like these across the country: if they had the means to buy a building outright, get it up to code, and throw incredible shows without fear of repercussions from the neighbors or police, believe me, they'd jump at the chance. Try finding a corporate investor that wants to donate a million bucks to a bunch of broke, avant-garde young artists.

As long as there's a lack of funding for unconventional art and music (that prioritizes excellence in creativity over monetary gain) at the local, state, and national level;

As long as big private donors don't understand that these scrubby, vibrant spaces are as culturally valuable as the symphony and the ballet;

As long as cities see underground art and culture as -- at best -- a cute side-note to the for-profit businesses that generate their tax revenues, marginalized people of all kinds will continue to come together to operate spaces like The Ghost Ship in less-than-ideal conditions because they're THAT desperate to find solace from the sterile, soulless, money-driven, self-constricting mainstream, to have the freedom to truly express themselves freely. That's what the FUCK America is about.

They'll take these terrifying risks because their broader society including their cities and their landlords aren't hospitable to them, and have deemed them unworthy of their support.

And until that changes, these beautiful, creative people will continue to operate these spaces on the margins of the society that's rejected them.

Like dandelions in the sidewalk.

Posted by Cat S on 12/05/2016 at 7:40 PM

Re: “Artists Who Survived Oakland Warehouse Fire Discuss The Tragedy, Those Missing, Need for Safe Underground Spaces

George: "There is no excuse --none-- for not having a sprinkler system, accessible exits, and an up-to-code stairway. High rents, marginalized status, or persecution do not excuse the failure to foresee a catastrophic fire."

Black-and-white blame statements like this are so deaf to the reality of what it's like to try to attain "assembly space" zoning, which most state fire codes require for spaces that host concerts. For starters, venues that seek assembly zoning are required to install fire sprinklers, which cost tens of thousands of dollars. Try convincing your slumlord (in any state, in any housing market) to spring for that, just to keep the artist community they could care less about from closing its doors. Try raising that money yourself, from other minimum-wage workers like yourself, for a building you don't own. If you somehow managed to do that, try preventing your landlord from kicking you out for a commercial nightclub tenant who can pay higher rent now that the space has sprinklers.

If you manage to contact the fire department without being immediately shut down, good luck navigating their interpretation of the fire code, which (in any state) is incredibly nebulous, and up to the interpretation of your local fire marshal. Each venue, depending on square footage, layout, levels, etc. is required to construct different numbers of exits, at various ends of the building, at enormous cost. Again, try "standing up to your landlord" to "demand" those kinds of renovations, when your landlord doesn't even care if you have steady electricity.

You said, "This is a wake-up call not only to those in the underground scene but to all landlords, owners, and promoters that their first priority should be the physical safety of those who use the premises."

Wouldn't that be a luxury??! Ask anyone whose life has been changed whose life has been saved by the communities that thrive in spaces like these across the country: if they had the means to buy a building outright, get it up to code, and throw incredible shows without fear of repercussions from the neighbors or police, believe me, they'd jump at the chance. Try finding a corporate investor that wants to donate a million bucks to a bunch of broke, avant-garde young artists.

As long as there's a lack of funding for unconventional art and music (that prioritizes excellence in creativity over monetary gain) at the local, state, and national level; As long as big private donors don't understand that these scrubby, vibrant spaces are as culturally valuable as the symphony and the ballet; As long as cities see underground art and culture as - at best - a cute side-note to the for-profit businesses that generate their tax revenues, marginalized people of all kinds will continue to come together to operate spaces like The Ghost Ship in less-than-ideal conditions because they're THAT desperate to find solace from the sterile, soulless, money-driven, self-constricting mainstream, to have the freedom to truly express themselves freely. That's what the FUCK America is about.

They'll take these terrifying risks because their broader society including their cities and their landlords aren't hospitable to them, and have deemed them unworthy of their support.

And until that changes, these beautiful, creative people will continue to operate these spaces on the margins of the society that's rejected them.

Like dandelions in the sidewalk.

Posted by Cat S on 12/05/2016 at 7:02 PM
Posted by Fabian Bolanos II on 12/05/2016 at 6:12 PM

Re: “Couple In Charge of Ghost Ship Lost Kids to Child Protective Services While Living in Oakland Warehouse

I heard foregoing fire sprinklers, running water, and sanitation is a great way to get your rent down. I hope they send this SLUM LORD to jail where he belongs.

Posted by Nathaniel Talcott on 12/05/2016 at 4:20 PM

Re: “On Class, Race, Culture and the Anti-Trump Movement

Your opinion piece reads as if it were weighing both sides of the issue, and then decides that we should put our differences aside and move forward together. However, I think this piece is more about you than about any movement of people.

When you, as a rich college educated liberal/progressive white man, quote from four college educated men, two of them white, yet no women or trans people of any race or class, you are showing that you dont pay much attention to your city: you are yourself living in the rarefied white upper class liberal/progressive bay area bubble, within the bay area bubble we all live in.

The bay area, probably more than anywhere, is already at the intersection of race and economic (in)justice and gender. There are so many people experiencing that intersection and struggling in it and organizing around it.

To visit the example you use, "discrimination faced by Hispanic people in the Bay Area is quite different than that experienced by the transgender community." You dont seem to realize that there are many trans Latinix/Chican@ people within the bay area Hispanic and transgender communities. Do you think all trans people are white, and all Latinix/Chican@ are straight and cisgendered? What about Taja DeJesus, killed in SF last year? Which of your binary oppressions did she experience? Poor? Latina? Transgendered?

Thats one person, but if you were in touch with the bay area I live in you would know that intersectionality obviously includes economic justice for all.

"A deep fear exists among those [white people] who are being left behind economically. If the left dismisses their suffering, they're going to flee just like how once Barack Obama voters abandoned Clinton"

POC and white working class voters alike didnt turn out enthusiastically for Clinton. If you have a economically elitist neo-liberal candidate who gives lip service to POC while supporting horrifying deportation policies and war against POC in the middle east do you think many from the identity politics world OR the economy-concerned white working class would be enthusiastic about her?

"Helpfully, most debaters agree that it is risky to emphasize the distinctions in the 99 Percent. When we make differences primary, people without power are not going to progress, and the dominance of the One Percent will persevere. The only way forward is through a solidarity of the non-elite. It must be a solidarity for a common good, not of "my identity against yours." "

Actually, when you promote utopian, color blind all of us together against the real enemy of the 1% ideas, you make it harder for white people to do the work of acknowledging the systematic racism and white privilege that comes from founding a country on genocide and slavery and that must be addressed before there can be justice, economic or otherwise for anyone.

Im guessing that you may have formed some of your ideas about race during the 80s or 90s when color blindness was in vogue. Thats not where we are anymore. Acknowledging differences is productive and necessary, and choosing to work together across those differences is harder but more effective than pretending they pale in comparison to the difference between us and the 1%. *

Im a 33 year old white man who works a minimum wage job.

I dont have a high school diploma and I didnt go to college. If I can figure out what intersectionality is, you can too.

* I have a feeling that as an owner of a newspaper, a businessman and a lawyer, you are a member of the 1% yourself. Feel free to leave this part out if you print this. But keep in mind that you might not want to be speaking on behalf of the 99%

Posted by Steve Schmidt on 12/05/2016 at 4:14 PM

Re: “Couple In Charge of Ghost Ship Lost Kids to Child Protective Services While Living in Oakland Warehouse

Foodiexp75, these matters are very relevant because they give us insight into the character of some of the key players in this story. And yes, "moneyed people" do dictate rents in a capitalistic society. Maybe you should try living in Cuba, since they may have policies more to your liking.

Posted by tina2001a on 12/05/2016 at 4:11 PM

Re: “Couple In Charge of Ghost Ship Lost Kids to Child Protective Services While Living in Oakland Warehouse

This tragedy had failures on every level:
city officials should have enforced building codes that exist to prevent hazardous conditions like this, the building owner should have had a better handle on what was going on in his building, master tenants should never have permitted residences/events without proper permits, tenants should have never leased in a building that obviously wasn't permitted as such (use common sense) & adult event goers should have noticed there were no sprinklers, clearly marked exits, (things you'd normally see in a commercial space), parents of minors should've known where their kids were. Everyone failed in their duty.

Posted by tina2001a on 12/05/2016 at 4:05 PM

Re: “Operator of 'Ghost Ship' Lived Inside Site of Oakland Warehouse Fire with Wife, Children, Was on Probation

Does anyone dispute that he was in charge of the facility and that he leased it for the electronic music event of Dec. 2? He is guilty of negligence that led to these deaths -- and with electrical wires reported to spark often, he knew it. If anyone deserves prison, it is he.

Posted by Charlie Pine on 12/05/2016 at 3:27 PM

Re: “Operator of 'Ghost Ship' Lived Inside Site of Oakland Warehouse Fire with Wife, Children, Was on Probation

He hasn't left or fled. He's still in Oakland staying at the Marriot

Posted by calmdown on 12/05/2016 at 2:34 PM

Re: “Building Engulfed by Deadly Oakland Fire Had Pending Habitability Complaints

It's amazing that the unionized city workers are not getting 100% of the deserved blame for this. Criminal charges should be brought against the city workers who failed to do their jobs.

Of course no one is going to be punished and of course they will retire with full pensions eventually. Thanks government unions!

Has there ever been a more clear-cut case for banishing city workers from unionizing? At-will employment would have prevented this disaster as the inspectors would have known that they would be getting kicked to the curb if they failed to do their jobs properly...

Frustrating.

Posted by Vladislav Davidzon on 12/05/2016 at 1:02 PM

Re: “Couple In Charge of Ghost Ship Lost Kids to Child Protective Services While Living in Oakland Warehouse

Rent is hard to afford anywhere in Oakland, even if you have a decent job. As of October 2016, average apartment rent within the city of of Oakland, CA is $2778. One bedroom apartments in Oakland rent for $2420 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $3075. Is it any wonder that people will live in dangerous conditions rather than be on the streets? You need to earn about $60 per hour to live here.

Posted by Kelly Erickson on 12/05/2016 at 12:54 PM

Re: “Building Engulfed by Deadly Oakland Fire Had Pending Habitability Complaints

If you look over the Commercial Inspections information on the Oakland Fire Departments Fire Prevention webpage it is clear that procedures were not being followed. It is especially troubling as the Ghost Ship building was very close to an Oakland Firehouse and as a retired firefighter I can assure you the crews I worked with always knew what was going on in buildings nearby. Cincinnati Ohio Fire Department took even more aggressive steps and was known to visit bars and nightclubs late in the evening to check for exit and overcrowding violations.
http://www2.oaklandnet.com/government/o/OFD/s/Inspections/index.htm

Posted by Dennis McCloskey on 12/05/2016 at 12:31 PM

Re: “'I'm Going To Get My Gun': Event Organizers at Ghost Ship Accused Derick Almena of Theft, Threats

Oh c'mon, Darwin! Some guy wrote that he "think(s) this person may be unstable?" Some guy who you previously reported had declined to comment on the "harassment?" Some guy you previously reported as Mr Almena's former friend?

You're reporting Lewis and Elvey's allegations againt Mr. Almena as if they were true, while dismissing Mr. Almena's allegations against Ms. Porter as irrelevant.

"Mob, ready your pickaxes!"

Posted by Edward Cervantes on 12/05/2016 at 12:03 PM

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