Oakland, Berkeley, And East Bay News, Events, Restaurants, Music, & Arts
I don't think you can criminally sue the city and the inspectors. There is a form of legal immunity here for the state, of which a city is a subdivision of the state. It's the landlord who has the deepest pocket and is really going to pay the most when the lawsuits hit.
It's very relevant Derick Ion Almena was on probation. How is it relevant? Let me break it down and make it plain. It's relevant because he's a scofflaw. Because he's an irresponsible person. Because he's a ne'er-do-well and yet he was somehow in charge of this space and therefore the lives of everybody in this space. That's how it's relevant. It shouldn't have to be explained but the "don't judge" crowd has a tendency to be deliberately obtuse. If the guy had a long history of playing with matches, that same crowd would be asking, "How is this relevant?"
Here's another relevant question. Were Derick and his wife getting public assistance? Were the taxpayers paying for those kids to be at the hotel as part of child protection services, right BEFORE the fire? Was he collecting food stamps while partying in Bali? Was he getting SSI for a rather obvious bipolar condition?
Were the taxpayers paying to house those children at a hotel right before the fire? What other public assistance was the couple receiving while partying in Bali and collecting rent without making desperately needed fixes for the sake of safety? Were they getting food stamps? SSI? In addition to manslaughter counts, perhaps some charges are in order for public assistance fraud.
Questioning Claudia Cappio's integrity is your prerogative but if you look closer you'll see a good and honorable person. She's a pragmatist in the end. When she sees the inevitable approach and it has negatives to it she looks for the best ways to minimize them. She understands constructive compromise but would never compromise principles. As for her small investment portfolio, if you understand stocks you know there are about zero clean stocks; somewhere one is connected to the next. I bet if we looked at most stock portfolios, including those of Cappio's critics, we'd find similar scenarios. Don't try to malign a good public servant in a try to score cheap points. I, too, am certain we shouldn't be mining or shipping coal ANYWHERE, but due process, crossing the t's and dotting the i's, has to be followed.
It is sad to see such scurrilous and needlessly caustic responses to this article which was to all intents and purposes a non-starter. So he is on probation. How does that pertain to this tragedy? So he is staying in a Hotel. His house just burned down, he has to stay somewhere with his family. I don't know him and I do think he has some responsibility for this very unfortunate situation. At the same time he is a victim too and deserves to be given some space at this point for that reason alone. Beyond this, the fact that local politicians are using this as grist for the mill in their attempts to position themselves for future advancement represents the worst kind of opportunism. The Bay area is a very difficult place for artists and musicians these days. If it wasn't for their creative abilities and their application thereof to the problem of housing and so on we would see their exodus. Their contribution (generally poorly compensated) constitutes one of the primary reasons that the Bay area has the elevated and progressive culture that we all enjoy as residents. The inevitable over-reaction to this tragedy from a crackdown standpoint is unfortunate and represents a loss of macro perspective overall. Warehouses are the traditional home of counter-culture in the East Bay. I have been to hundreds of events in similar spaces. There must a hundred events like this going on every weekend in Oakland alone. Scale this across the Country and the probability that a tragedy like this is going to unfold is inevitable. It is a numbers game. I lost a couple of friends in this fire for the record. I see the need for a practical approach to implementing safety measures in such instances. It is important to recognizing that people are living in warehouses, legal or not. If this is the case let's make the owners of such spaces responsible for at least the minimal improvements necessary to make a big difference. Things like sprinklers and fire escapes do not constitute a massive expense. But a hardcore crackdown on semi-residential warehouses across the board would be an additional blow to the artistic community which is already reeling from the loss at hand.
The Mayor and the head of Code Enforcement need to step down and be criminally sued themselves. All of the above reported points to a City out of control for years. The reporting is unfortunately necessary - 36 people were killed in the most horrific way - a full picture needs to be painted pixel by pixel of why they died and who is responsible, or it will keep happening. The mayor, FD, PD, CE all knew these dangerous underground artist complexes were rampant, and needed to have addressed the problem as community leaders. They obviously can't find their way out of a paper bag, much less come up with win-win solutions.
Every time that insult for a Mayor people gets on the news, she's just digging a deeper hole for herself and Oakland - she needs to step down now and get someone who actually can get things done to take her place. She's an insult to those who lost their lives there. As for the First Responders, speaking as an ex FR, yes it's difficult, but get used to it because there will be lots more horror shows since your Mayor is so incompetent. Also, remember this, what the victims went through is far worse than what you went through recovering them, you chose this very job, are well compensated for it, receive taxpayer help to over come any fire-related psych difficulties - so the story should not be about you, real FR's stop the press making the story about them when it's about those guests on the second floor who were invited there even from Facebook. Think about that.
PS Many victims in the 2003 Station fire had more clout than the poor victims in Oakland, so the lawsuits flew, most victims and families were properly compensated, if there can ever be such a thing. Now, watch this "mayor" try to stop any such activity from helping this Oakland horror show, one for which the owners etc. are surely responsible, but so is the City, for 30 years they let this fester - and Schaaf thinks she can shaft the victims, making Oakland above the legal lawsuit process, because the vics are poor, transgender, counter-culture, and so obviously in her opinion aren't people, aren't humans, deserving of proper compensation. And this in "California" no less. Oakland needs to be properly sued for criminal negligence, along with the owners etc. etc. etc.
Oakland Code Enforcement, their uniformed services, all the way up to that "Mayor" failed to heed the lessons - taught worldwide - of the Station fire, RI 2003, you can hear the horrific screams of those victims, memorialized 4ever on Youtube, and know exactly what those poor Oakland victims went through. In Station, everyone was sued, and fairly quickly and agreeably paid the victims, but this "Mayor" has deemed herself above this sort of legal & civic responsibility to the poorest of her citizens, the most promising artistically. What a hypocrite. She and the head of her Code Enforcement can circle the criminal legal wagons, but they're all gonna get bitterly fought civic lawsuits up the wazoo. Schaaf said "Need to get more regulations", the regs are already there lady. You're just not doing your job, and the buck stops with you.
To Shelley Mack, TY for standing up and exposing Derick Ion. In my opinion he appears to be a Charlie Manson sociopath. Could it be that he tried to control his targets by not having exterior exits at the top of the staircases? In my opinion, it appears the property owner provided a platform for Derick Ion to operate. And it appears the city of Oakland enabled him.
I hope you prevail in showing the people of Oakland the reasons that so many innocent lives were lost,displaced and traumatized. Sincerely, Judith Steen firstname.lastname@example.org
I guess Oakland has learned nothing from the pathetic record of modern cover-ups by government officials.
"One guy" built a death trap and profited off the people he rented to and the people who paid to come to his events. "One guy" is indeed responsible. I've seen squats with better safety.
The City will need to create a task force now to make sure this doesn't happen again. All warehouses that are suspected of being anything like the "Ghost Ship" will need to get extra special scrutiny and Red Tagged when in violations of fire and safety codes. If this means throwing people out into the streets then so be it. It is better to be homeless than killed in the most awful way. I realize most that lost their lives were not living there. Everyone now should realize the awful consequences of what can happen when public events are allowed to happen in places that are not approved for such events. People need to be more respectful and understanding of the reasons for city codes. Unfortunately, people, especially young people, to often are disdainful of the established system and can't be bothered to think about the need to comply with the laws. It is so very unfortunate that events like this are the only thing that can effect a reappraisal of a mindset that is disdainful of safety codes.
Lil' Mike is always the voice of reason. A very smart guy who knows how important it is to be silly, too. I'm gonna repost your thing to FaceBook, Mike.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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