Narrow Search

  • Show Only

  • Category

  • Narrow by Date

Comment Archives: stories: Blogs: Today

Re: “Oakland Officials Order Staff to Withhold Public Records Related to Ghost Ship Fire

Patton is correct again when he says that the acting director at the Building Dept is a conscientious guy and a competent planner, who was put into a position that requires a management skill set that he wouldn't have acquired in his previous position. So many problems in Oakland government are caused by poor management.

The current and previous City Administrators were number crunchers not line managers of big departments. Dan Lindheim, Dellums' City Administrator had never managed anything bigger than Dellums' Washington office. Much of his background was policy and global economics. But Dellums twisted his arm to become City Administrator because he wanted someone he could trust.

With weak management in the upper layers of crucial city departments, our city government is no more prepared to handle the growth we face now than it was to handle the recession of a few years ago.

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/07/2016 at 10:11 AM

Re: “Oakland Officials Order Staff to Withhold Public Records Related to Ghost Ship Fire

This is a response to the comment by Tove Beatty. The Interim Planning and Building Director is in a difficult position and it is not his fault. This person was promoted from a mid level planner position to a Deputy Director without having any supervisory experience at any level. When the Director departed several months ago, he was appointed Interim Director. Given past practices, he will probably be given the job. In the short term, he is supposed to manage several hundred employees and provide strong leadership in a high profile urban tragedy situation. In all fairness, he is a nice guy, a smart guy, but is way over his ski's and is just trying to do damage control.This inexperienced management situation has been a pattern since the departure of Robert Bobb in 2002. From the City Administrator on down, inexperienced people have been positioned at top level management positions, many without the benefit of a competitive interview process. The Public Works Director is not a civil engineer and has no education or experience in engineering. Where does that happen in a city the size of Oakland? Even cities of 30,000 have a licensed civil engineer managing the Public Works Department. The City Administrator herself has only worked in Oakland and Emeryville for a short period of time. The Deputy City Administrator has no experience in administration. When you have this situation in government, you do not get leadership, you get people who are at the mercy of their middle managers. Those folks often can only support the dysfunctional culture, but cannot change it because it is all they know. There is a theory in government that strong managers hire and promote strong managers and weak managers hire and promote weak managers. The City of Oakland is a perfect example of the latter.

Posted by Gary Patton on 12/07/2016 at 5:52 AM

Re: “Oakland Officials Order Staff to Withhold Public Records Related to Ghost Ship Fire

I am overwhelmed by grief for these young people and those who loved them.

And I believe that one of the answers to the issues raised by this tragedy is to rehabilitate existing buildings, instead of using money to enrich developers who will only build housing that is not affordable either to artists or to the thousands of non-artists who currently live in Oakland.

Posted by Kitty Kelly Epstein 1 on 12/07/2016 at 5:04 AM

Re: “Oakland Officials Order Staff to Withhold Public Records Related to Ghost Ship Fire

Agree with both of the comments above. This appears to be the deadly result of the systemic disfunctions of at two city departments, Fire and Building, and probably Police as well, to set up efficient systems to share information and to manage staff to make sure the systems are used properly and staff perform efficiently and timely. Along with that, there seems to be a remarkable failure of management to prioritize responses to complaints based on even number of people at risk and potential worst case harm.

Nothing new about these operating problems at City Hall. Been like that for many years, even decades. Normally the only damage is economic or discomfort to tenants getting screwed by landlords for substandard living conditions, builders and developers delayed for months over minor items and inconsistent inspectors and charged huge fees for the privilege, or residents forced to live with blight. Construction inspection and plan review failures of the growing building boom here probably won't even be discovered until the big one hits.

Ever since the Feds came in to oversee OPD, there was much talk about changing the "culture" at OPD. Far too many of Oakland municipal government need cultural change as well as house cleaning of many layers of their management.

Instead we'll get mass grief counseling, legal lynching of the dumshit master tenant, and an inspector and maybe an asst fire marshal taking early retirement.

Since the is after all, one of the most deadly building fires in CA history and made headlines across the country for several days, something more dramatic might be done to give the illusion of change. That's shaping up to be big cutbacks in allowable number of artist live/work units along with requirements for putting in good stuff like sprinkler systems which are so expensive that most artists won't be able to afford the rents.

Just as we overhauled the City Ethics Commission, and voters overwhelmingly approved an independent civilian Police Commission this past November, it's time to establish an independent Commission of residents and business people to oversee rehabbing of the Building and inspection department. After that task, another commission to examine the Fire Department.

Posted by Len Raphael on 12/07/2016 at 1:57 AM

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

Some resources for "slouching towards safety" I've found in a few days of digging around:

*OSHA regulations for work spaces, 29 CFR 1910 subpart e - almost too vague, at least it's understandable to a (patient) layman. https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/29/pa…
* http://www.worldcat.org//architects-studio… Looks like a good book that condenses code requirements, I'll look at a copy at the UC Berkeley library.
* NFPA Life Safety Code 101 http://www.nfpa.org//all-code/list-of-code… A real gold mine. Register for free, and you can access all their content.

The trouble is the issue pretty complex for a one-page broadsheet, all that most of the young rave-goers have attention for. Boiling it down further, maybe some really basic rules:
* two exit paths minimum to the outside from any performance space.
* clear exit paths 28 inches wide or more
* Crash bars on the exit doors (not that expensive - abt $100 new, and I suspect, but haven't confirmed, they may be available via salvage at the usual locations for same.
* photoluminescent exit lighting (glows without external power or batteries)

These are all things that are visible to attendees. None of these visible? Complain, then leave, is Uncle Ryan's advice.
BTW, Gilman Street has all of this and has for DECADES, just as an example.

Maybe there could be a second list of "best practices" oriented toward property - I don't know, leaders? What the LoBot collective tried really hard to be... Some bullet points (and these could be applied to living as well as performance spaces):
* fire escape ladders for second-floor windows. https://wiki.ezvid.com/best-escape-ladders
* if windows are more than about 3 feet off the floor, steps to allow them to be used for egress. The building code has a maximum sill height of 44 inches for egress windows - conflicts with privacy and security. My own house doesn't meet that one.
* Some form of alerting system, even if it's just a bullhorn in the DJ booth.
* How to conduct a fire drill. Oriented towards promoters, bouncers and DJs, but have a live "mob" of your friends to do it, and a mini-keg afterward if you can all get out in under a minute.
* Fire-proofing partitions, particularly around exit paths. Drywall is cheap, and reasonably fire proof.

Please keep thinking about how to prevent another Ghost Ship FIRE. E-mail me privately if you want to help build a Movement.

Posted by Ryan R Young on 12/07/2016 at 12:02 AM

Most Popular Stories


© 2016 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation