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

I was involved with the Rave community in the Bay Area for years and have known numerous artists and others that have lived in warehouses. Most of these people are artists, musicians and kids that don't have the money to afford the high rents in the area.
This guy didn't start the fire, didn't lure people in, and was probably just providing spaces for those that didn't have anything else. I can't imagine what he's going through.
Dear God, bless the people that perished and their hurting families.

Posted by Jim Manne on 12/06/2016 at 2:35 PM

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

Dear Derick Almena, I wish you the best in your transition to art director at San Quentin prison for the next 40 years. If you don't get your money from someone at least you won't have to lock 'em up!

Posted by Joe Sampson on 12/06/2016 at 12:36 PM

Re: “Oakland Landlord Evicts Tenant, Then Hangs Pro-Trump Billboard on Building

HA HA - someone was able to deface the t-RUMP sign by throwing paint at it! Now I can smile when I drive by...

Posted by D Silverman on 12/06/2016 at 12:13 PM

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

This letter is written by an executive assistant to the Fire Chief. Where is the leadership and direction from the Oakland Fire Chief? In all of the press conferences and public official responses regarding this tremendous tragedy, the Fire Chief has been conspicuously absent. All of the public statements have been made by Deputy Chiefs. Where is the Chief and why is she hiding? If this catastrophe does not demand accountability from the top, what will it take? I suspect that in this extremely high profile complex situation regarding a Fire response to field operations and codes, the Chief is woefully incapable of answering questions. As I recall, she was hired by ex City Administrator Santana, who she worked with at the City of San Jose. I believe that in her previous role in San Jose, Oaklands Fire Chief was a numbers cruncher in charge of the Fire Department budget. Once again Oakland shows a lack of leadership from those in executive positions who hire and promote people based on friendships and relationships instead of experience and qualifications. No wonder instructions went out cutting off public access to information. What I suspect is that what we will eventually discover is that several city departments, especially Fire and Building Inspection, had plenty of opportunities in the past to identify and correct multiple code and health and safety violations or prohibit occupancy of this obvious fire trap. The problem is that the culture of work for employees in Oakland allows myopic single focus views of the job. Fire does an inspection, but does not talk to the Building Department. The zoning inspector goes out, but does not include building code inspectors who have a more technical expertise. Everybody only sees their own job, not how they are connected. What is missing throughout the organization are people with a more comprehensive big picture sense of their public duty and how they can use other parts of the organization to actually resolve the issues on their own desk. That direction of how to work has to come from the top and it obviously and unfortunately in this case, did not happen.

Posted by Gary Patton on 12/06/2016 at 11:19 AM

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

From what I've read/heard, the actual residents of the space knew the danger and were somewhat prepared -- there had been small fires there before. It was holding a party on the almost inaccessible second floor that was the height of insanity. Some people should got to jail for this, but a creative solution for some amount of housing or accommodations could come out of this. Could. There are a lot of competing interests and desires. It will take time.

Posted by LJ Schneider on 12/06/2016 at 10:25 AM

Re: “Local Green Energy Authority Quietly Launches in Alameda County

Good point Jessica, years of grassroots community organizing went into this initiative, including Local Clean Energy Alliance, East Bay Clean Power Alliance, Berkeley Climate Action Coalition, Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland, Asian-Pacific Environmental Network, the Sierra Club and others.

Posted by Erica Etelson on 12/06/2016 at 9:12 AM

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

Breanna, I think sorting this out, and "punishing" those who acted in such ways that totally disregarded life, IS one of the ways we try to prevent this from happening again.
This fire will probably save many future lives: hopefully it will be burned into our consciousness. Hopefully others will "just say no" to unsafe, sketchy shit like this. Hopefully people are checking out their surroundings a bit closer. Hopefully people never forget. Sadly its tragedies like this that show us, throughout our lives, how precious and frail human life is.
Derrick needs to STOP TALKING.....I read a couple asanine comments: one, he called the victims all "his children". Hmmm. Cool. But they aren't. You're kids are alive. You tell that to the 36 victims parents and loved ones. (You obviously get a FAIL at parenting....I don't care how cool you are or how amused you are by your " poetic ability" put your children in a very dangerous situation) Two, he talked about his life experiences: THAT YOU OBVIOUSLY DID NOT APPLY....AT 46 YOUVE LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO KNOW THIS STUFF CAN AND WILL HAPPEN. Yet, you snubbed your nose at that, you played chicken with other peoples lives. Please, just shut the hell up.

Posted by Tina Wilson on 12/06/2016 at 6:48 AM

Re: “Oakland's Ron Dellums on President Trump: 'Step Forward'

Sorry Dan, your list of Dellums so called "accomplishments" during his term ring a bit hollow. Police reform, really? How many scandals and new Chiefs does it take until the reform part kicks in? Measure Y, what exactly did Dellums have to do with that? The voters approved the measure and Public Works implemented the projects. What exactly was the Mayors contribution?Reduction of crime, I think not. The fact is that during his term (2006-20110) crime across the country was down. I don't think Dellums had much to do with that. Obtaining Federal stimulus grants from his Washington buddies on Capitol Hill was the least he could do. After all, he could do that with phone calls from home. It didn't require showing up for work.

Posted by Gary Patton on 12/06/2016 at 5:50 AM

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

Can't we accept this tragic accident as such.? Quit trying to blame name etc.let's look to see what we can do to avoid an outcome like this.god bless peace out

Posted by Breanna Ellison on 12/06/2016 at 5:20 AM

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

If other artist spaces get red-tagged over this (which they shouldn't as this was an egregious mess) that will be Derick's fault too, along with all of the deaths. He knew it was unsafe and he made it obvious that he didn't care. And, of course, he got out. Unlike 36 other people who he was only too glad to take advantage of. Derick, if this is you, you should STFU. If this isn't Derick, you should also STFU. There is no justification for throwing a public party in that kind of space. You want to let your friends burn up in your house, that's between you and them. But as soon as you become a public space - even as an underground - that's different.

Posted by Bunny Watson on 12/06/2016 at 4:24 AM

Re: “Oakland's Ron Dellums on President Trump: 'Step Forward'

Thank you Mayor Dellums for these words. So inspiring. Thank you for all that you have done, continue to do and all of the hope you represent.

Posted by Joycelyn Hughes on 12/06/2016 at 2:46 AM

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Posted by calisto on 12/06/2016 at 2:08 AM

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:

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

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