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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: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

What if you didn't go to art school?? That's some cold hard snobbery right there. That's called victim blaming and that is the most disrespectful way to talk about the deceased. What's selfish about what Lobot said?? They are trying to protect spaces like their own from being shut down as opposed to being made safe. Making more places where more people can feel at home so we don't all have to be privelived little pricks like you and can just be ourselves. Not every boot comes with a damn strap so try some new shoes on and figure that out smarty pants. What do you mean by don't "expect" to be taken care of by you city? Is a city not supposed to be concerned with the safety and well being of its citizens? Or are you saying don't expect it cause they obviously only give a fuck about their money... Cause yeah that's why we DON'T expect it. But that doesn't mean we don't deserve it. And if you think that's selfish, you're only looking in a mirror. You don't deserve your safety any more than anyone else, you just have more access, because you have privelive, cause the boots your daddy gave you came with straps you near sighted ditz. Just remember your diploma will be the first thing that burns when you get to the gates.

Posted by Morgan True on 12/07/2016 at 3:48 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: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Editor: The comment made by Tove is horrifically offensive and inappropriate in the wake of this tragedy.

Posted by chichichills on 12/07/2016 at 12:59 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

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

While I think there is plenty of blame to go around, I'm not all that interested, me, in assessing and assigning it.

What interests me is improving the safety of alternative spaces. The spaces are not going away. Their economics are sketchy. Full code compliance is NOT happening, and may be counter-productive in the long run anyway - all the preceding has been pointed out, here and in other posts.

This NEED NOT mean doing NOTHING. I'm exploring, along with a prior poster in this thread, "slouching towards safety" - intermediate approaches towards issues of egress, electrical safety, etc. Something outside of Code Compliance and Fire Marshall inspection. Contact me via the link in this posting, and let's talk, hopefully leading to acting.

Every word in the building and fire codes is written in blood mixed with ashes. We ignore them at our peril. Let's have MORE beautiful spaces (while the Ghost Ship pre-fire pictures frighten me rigid, I can ALSO see the attraction - it did look mighty cozy), but no more martyrs.

Posted by Ryan R Young on 12/06/2016 at 11:40 PM

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Posted by Atifa Esha on 12/06/2016 at 11:23 PM

Re: “If Oakland Cracks Down On Underground Warehouses, It Will Snuff Out The City’s DIY Soul

Safety is obviously the most important issue. All venues must be safe, as I would have hoped everyone has learned from this awful tragedy.

Beyond that, we don't need bureaucratic interference with our artistic events. But we cannot do without safety.

Posted by Dan Asimov on 12/06/2016 at 10:58 PM

Re: “Self-identified 'Fat Trans Man' and Berkeley Resident Shane Brodie Protests the 'Transphobic' Trump Statues

Brodie will ultimately fail at his quests until he learns to respect others instead of unilaterally demanding respect that only goes one way. Maybe one day he will learn that there is a difference between having the balls to take a stance and just being a dick.

Posted by Kevin Kaper on 12/06/2016 at 10:22 PM

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

A family friend lost her son in this fire. Other people we know are still missing.

I think a false opposition is being created in this thread. Some people say that people who knew about the situation should have taken preventive action. One might start that list with the master lessee, but not end it there. This horrible fire stands out in part because structure fires have gotten a lot more unusual--fire prevention has been an unsung triumph of government regulation.

Other people say these situations are unavoidable, there's no such thing as safe low cost space in Oakland right now. The only affordable space is physically unsafe space. The City (and other governmental entities) should work to create physically safe artists' housing and performance venues. Other cities (in the US and elsewhere)--starting with Emeryville (!) have been a lot more proactive in creating artists' housing.

I think both the responsibility perspective and the housing shortage perspective are valid.

Posted by Nathan Landau on 12/06/2016 at 9:48 PM

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

I've been following this tragic event since it occurred. Going to clubs and shows down in LA, I realize, this EASILY could have been me or any of my friends and/or acquaintances.

I find ALL of the loss of life from this tragedy to be equal.....and find it disheartening that the person writing the article is sad moreso for the attendees who remain unaccounted for who are transgender people and people-of-color. In the 2010's, all we hear about is treating everyone equally and yet, in many scenarios, certain people continue to focus on certain victims instead of ALL of the victims. There are certainly circumstances when these types of people (transgender, gay, etc) are discriminated against and bothered, but it is definitely NOT at a club, a show or an event within the underground community.

I know LA may be a bit different than up there in the Bay area, but if we look at each other equally here within the scene (goth/industrial/EDM/elecronic/dark wave, etc), I can't imagine people up there looking at each other differently.

From the "before" photos of the inside of the building, this venue was a disaster waiting to happen. I have been to places like this, mainly for "after hour" parties and have left many of them after getting that "this can't be good" feeling. For those of you in the scene (the MUSIC scene....I could care less about your skin color, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, etc), please be more careful and vigilant out there. If something doesn't seem right....it may not be and it is better to be safe than sorry.

For all of those who have lost friends and family from this tragedy, my truest condolences.

Posted by Pat S on 12/06/2016 at 9:22 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Tove you are out of order and have the wrong end of the stick so to speak. I can only assume you are a middle aged white man or woman and are out of touch with other people's life experience and or position in life.

Posted by J Rashad Banks on 12/06/2016 at 9:07 PM

Re: “If Oakland Cracks Down On Underground Warehouses, It Will Snuff Out The City’s DIY Soul

A crack down is needed. Landlords rent to people and the people then break the lease by doing illegal activities. Often jimmy rigging electrical or plumbing to accommodate more people.The Ghost Ship better wake people up at City Hall.

Posted by Garry Ovalbach on 12/06/2016 at 8:34 PM

Re: “If Oakland Cracks Down On Underground Warehouses, It Will Snuff Out The City’s DIY Soul

No one should die for the sake of art. Art does not get murdered when it follows the rules in a gallery. It gets better because if you want it bad enough you will jump through the hoops to get it. The can do spirit of humans has taken harder blows than this and thrived. This jackass Ion needs to be charged with murder. He is a drugged out poser that doesn't care about the lives lost. It's all about him. I bet the criminal in him wants to hide, but the attention whore side has to go for the light. What if you were at the party? Instead of complaining why don't you go out and help the underground be safe. Get a code book, read it and develop a working relationship with a fire marshal. You could do a whole series of articles on what it takes to be safe and why it so important. Or, you can sit safe behind your computer, whine and throw rocks.

Posted by Patrick Farmer on 12/06/2016 at 8:15 PM
Posted by Conan Neutron on 12/06/2016 at 8:14 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Editor: Please remove the comment from Tove. It's very sad, maddening and completely disrespectful to the conversation we're trying to have right now.

Posted by Kelly H williams on 12/06/2016 at 7:50 PM

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

Who is this "Aldigator" who thinks you can rent a one bedroom apartment for $1,400? What a ridiculous thing to say...

Posted by Rose A. Ellis on 12/06/2016 at 7:20 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Personal anecdotes on the pulling up of bootstraps always seem so relevant to everyone don't they? i think this letter perfectly points out that city fire policies don't even allow people the chance to bring a space up to code without being displaced. This comment just reeks of "i got mine, so who cares about your?" elitism.

Posted by Porch Lyfe on 12/06/2016 at 6:46 PM

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

Well put, Mr. Patton. You might add, where is the Chief of Police? We don't even have one of those. Is this information covered under an FOIA request? Note also that the Planning and Building Director has recently left and an interim is in her place, a man frequently interviewed with fewer and fewer answers each time, just several "open investigations." I would say that "heads need to roll," but I'm afraid there's not one responsible head left in Oakland City government.

Posted by Tove Beatty on 12/06/2016 at 6:24 PM

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