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

Why the need for censorship people? Someone doesn't agree and you want it removed? And I bet the people asking to remove comments cry when they don't get heard.

Tove had some valid points whether you agreed with it or not. No guns are being placed on anyone's head to live this lifestyle. It's a choice.

There are also rules for the GREATER safety of everyone and not just a select few. The landlords are also at risk which the author is asking to bear. It's all about self responsibility.

Posted by Robert Hope on 12/07/2016 at 1:29 PM

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

As usual, "suck it up buttercup" trolls are in control of this comment section. We used to have the luxury of ignoring these heartless jackasses, but since they have as of late leveraged enormous political power (one of their own is the future POTUS), we can no longer afford to ignore their venom.

Let's look at some other comments (accessible via their public profiles) from some of the pro-crackdown people on this thread to find their philosophical leanings. If you are a hardline, trickle-down economics-boosting, unabashedly pro-cop Republican you will relate to them. For everyone else (let's not forget that 4% of Oakland voted Republican in the last election), these quotes may give you pause before you give their voices any credence in this great city:

Garry Ovalbach: "How about increasing rents? Bring in wealthier people to Oakland and have the wealth trickle down? There are many other affordable cities surrounding Oakland that can be a place to live and Oakland a place to work. Affordable housing at this point is a pipe dream. Support rent increases folks."

Michael Good: "...the [police] union needs to be even more vigilant to protect its members - the public moods and emotions along with protesting activists can drive decisions that are not particularly thoughtful, clear and fair - police "discipline" driven by political committees tempted to pander."

Posted by JohnNoMoniker on 12/07/2016 at 1:15 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

Adult children who want a parent(authority) to take the blame for their decisions and actions.

Posted by hammerrobby on 12/07/2016 at 1:14 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

I'm sorry but this is bullshit. It's a bloody tragedy that so many had to die unnecessarily and it's insulting to the dead to try to shift blame from those that put them in danger to "the system" or the shadowy "they" or "them". I was in several art/music scenes on the west coast since I was 16 and I played at a ton of alternative spaces, specifically in the east bay. We played at places that didn't have liquor licenses or cabaret licenses but I was young and dumb. We played this one place with sketchy electrical and I was shocked repeatedly, maybe it was that event that changed my mind at 19 but we never played anywhere that had questionable electrical circuits, this include legit clubs that pushed outlets as well. We checked out the places we were going to play or our friends played. Some were dangerous and sketchy and we never returned, some were spaces where they we trying to do something for the community of artist or musicians but had the common sense to have fire extinguishers, cleared exits and at least one that was clearly marked.

The ones that treated their space as a legit space were safe. The ones that treated their space as their own little scene or a drug dive or flophouse ended up being just that. This idyllic view of these places is naive and honestly complete crap. Gentrification and the housing crisis didn't stop them from doing the right thing. Being poor isn't a shield to hide behind that exonerates you from responsibility for your guests. The owner here was legendary for being horrible to renters, everyone knew it! When any of us attempted to talk about it, shade was always thrown our way. We werent keeping it real and we were now old and out of touch. Fuck that!

I did art and music since moving to LA at 17 and I had to pay bills like rent and gear, how I did it was working. Actually working! We worked temp jobs, shit jobs but we had to keep the roof over us and our practice space. Yeah, I had lean times where we illegally lived in our practice space for 2 months, but we knew we were pushing our luck. Anyone can call themselves an artist and a great many in the bay area confuse being a shifty bum and being an artist, others think because they were born in the area they have a deep rooted punk ethos. I'm sorry to burst your punk ethic but it's bullshit. You actually have to produce art to be an artist or be included in the scene, you have to actually do something not just hang out or do drugs, or be a hanger on. So many here in the Bay Area think attending a camp at Burning Man or going to a DIY warehouse show when they were kids equates to artistry, you made a fuzzy fur coat, that doesn't make you a fashion designer. Being a fanboy for a band doesnt make you a genius musician.

Yes, there are artists that do awesome work at Burning Man and throughout the year here in the bay, but they work their asses off. They are also intelligent, empathetic people that put others first and their studios are safe. I understand why you want to work a day job as little as possible because I did but I had to. I understand not fitting into the neat box of the square world but I had to in order to keep a home, keep food in belly and strings on my guitar. It's expensive here, I have had to leave twice because of employment/housing issues but I had more sense then put myself into dangerous situations just because I wanted to dodge responsibilities.

You may find this blunt, but it's the truth I witnessed in LA, Portland, Seattle and here. There's always someone trying to nudge a dodgy situation so they don't have to do the right thing and they do it in the name of the all holy scene. This poor artist con is a fantasy. Trying to paint this as "artist' vs gentrification is a smokescreen. People's family and friends died because Ion and Allison and everyone that lived there couldn't think about basic safety issues. That's the hard facts here, anything else is sticking your head in the sand. This happened in what was my front lawn. I lived across the street from this for two years and like Don Quixote tried to get the City of Oakland to take notice of what was happening there. Many of the direct neighbors tried. Unsafe is unsafe.

Posted by Mike Benedict on 12/07/2016 at 1:12 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

"Alternative" people were living in warehouse spaces since long before the current Bay Area housing crisis intensified. Housing activists need to STFU and not claim that every blip is a ratification of their agenda.

Posted by Marc Salomon on 12/07/2016 at 1:08 PM

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

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.

Posted by Vincent Sauve on 12/07/2016 at 1:06 PM

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

Y'all keep on saying there needs to be a crackdown or code enforcement. While I don't want another tragedy like Ghost Ship to happen, you have to understand what helps to create this. We live in one of the most...if not the most expensive region in the US. All though in recent months there has been a bit of a freeze in median price of the rental market, your average non-tech worker resident (for example, artists and creative types) cannot afford to pay $1,600 + a month for a hole-in-the-wall studio in Downtown Oakland. Also, there aren't a lot of nightlife options anywhere past 2 am. I will say it is a lot more complicated than that but the combination of the two definitely encourages people who live in warehouses and are able to supply space for nightlife events to go that route. Personally, I think a program like the one in New York (can't remember the name) which helps warehouses get up to residential building code would be a better middle ground solution.

Posted by Joshua Gaerlan on 12/07/2016 at 12:45 PM

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

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.

Posted by Michelle Castro on 12/07/2016 at 12:41 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

Not one new agency or commenter mentions that a one bedroom apartment in Oakland can run three grand a month....http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/10/18/at-long-last-bay-area-rental-market-cools/
Sure, if you have a network news job, it's peanuts... Greed is Death...You'll see....

Posted by Ted Danger on 12/07/2016 at 12:29 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

I'm already fed up with the feeding frenzy by many in our own community, and even more beyond the city limits, whose aim seems to be to exploit this atrocity. To each and every one of them I say; if you can't find a way to use your voice/power/energy to come to the aid of those who have suffered unbearable loss, or for those who stand to lose, then shut your mouths and get out of the way.

Posted by elizabeth.august1 on 12/07/2016 at 12:28 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

Really sounds like you're talking out of both sides of your mouth here.

You can't in one furtive sentence refer to "underfunded government agencies" to balance out an article that generally casts calls for stronger enforcement and reports from concerned neighbors as so me kind of gestapo-style crackdown. This has really been the most hysterical editorial I've read on this. It doesn't make me confident in the least that the Express will be the reporting I can look to for a calm, fair look at this issue.

Posted by Kai Chang on 12/07/2016 at 12:28 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

Libby Schaff has been a disaster as Mayor ignoring any responsibility for inspecting apartment balconies to prevent collapse or sub standard firetrap housing. She like her brethren claims there is no money to house artists and those of modest means as rents soar into the heavens a place most of these folks will never get to. And what of the fire department that claimed it couldn't get an inspector onto the premises. We suppose that if it were someone with a gun the police department would have broken the door down but the supreme indifference to life and health cost nearly forty or more lives and lifelong trauma for survivors. Oakland can do better by cleaning up City Hall calling other elected officials to task including Barbara Lee strangely silent and President Obama who is happy to go round the world killing with drones spending hundreds of millions of dollars for death and destruction while advising us to eat cake but claims we can't afford to provide decent safe housing for people or stem the endless violent crime on our streets.

Posted by Steve Redmond on 12/07/2016 at 12:18 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

My heart is heavy at the loss of so many young talented artists with their whole lives ahead of them.
the incredible rising rents in the east bay have pushed many artists into unsafe buildings, where some landlords also lack the funds to upgrade their buildings for these venues or uses. After the fundraising for the victims and their families ends, a fundraising effort to upgrade these buildings could start, at least to make them safe. Fundraising could be led by sharing companies such as Uber and AIRBNB and tech companies such as Pandora, or Google, who have so many of their employees living in Oakland. And after all the housing needs of these companies are creating the pressure for rents. to rise. Support the arts and the artists!!

Posted by Judy.Belcher on 12/07/2016 at 12:12 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

Conspiracy theory wrapped up in a comfy blanket of protecting the "scene."

Good! - expose those in power for not following basic safety codes and procedures. By all means, great thing to do. Please, go for it!

Also, expose and don't coddle those that are not in power for thinking they are exempt from basic safety codes and procedures because that is the lifestyle choice they want to make.

If you only do one, then you are playing wrapping yourself up in the victim flag. No one is forcing these people to live in squalor in one of the most expensive places in the world so that they can be part of a "scene." They can find some other way to make money rather than feel sorry for themselves as starving artists or they can move to a less expensive place to live. I do not remember the agreement that they are exempt from the realities of the world.

Can't afford to be part of a scene and party, dance and be creative in a super expensive area? Give me a break! The community has so many other more important needs and needy to tend to than "starving artists" or "creatives."

Posted by Michael Good on 12/07/2016 at 11:52 AM

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

No one is being "forced" to live in unsafe warehouses. Those that do so are making a choice. They choose to live in one of the most expensive places to live in the country in order to meet some other social and cultural needs they perceive must be more important than safe and decent housing. Not a choice most would make - but the choice they make. Using "forced" as the description is victim mentality.

It is not the taxpayer's job nor is it the local government's job to subsidize those that want to live in the fringes by artistic choice. We have too many other problems - be it housing for the poor (not 20 somethings making a lifestyle choice), enough food for people, education and public safety from crime and violence.

This article is not about living conditions. This article is about concerts, parties and the like. There you have people invited into often unsafe and unlicensed facilities. Those responsible for arranging the gathering (and charging for it!) are in a whole new realm of accountability for the safety of others. Accountability for ensuring the safety of others and having these gatherings go hand in hand, whether you like it or not. That is why the regulations are there. Not getting caught and/or thinking you know safety limits better than the regulators is no OK. Especially when the victims, their families and the public at large are the ones who take the hit.

No doubt about it, this fire was a terribly tragic, preventable disaster. That is not a reason for witch hunts but nor is it a reason to encourage or permit people to continue to make dumb and irresponsible decisions.

Posted by Michael Good on 12/07/2016 at 11:34 AM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

Each individual bears responsibility for their own safety and safety of their friends, family and loved ones. If you live in a place that is cluttered and unsafe CLEAN IT UP! FIX IT UP! MAKE IT SAFE!

Posted by Christine Dawn on 12/07/2016 at 10:55 AM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

Millennials want their underground experience but they don't want to take risks to get it.

If the government were to enforce regulations on these spaces they would disappear.

You can't have it both ways.

Posted by Marc Salomon on 12/07/2016 at 10:47 AM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

Sorry. No one has a "right" to live in Oakland. And no one has the excuse of "it's too expensive" as rationale for ignoring safety codes and putting others at risk. Those who lived there ARE at least somewhat responsible. They saw the lit candles and sparking wires and said nothing.

I'd rather have artists leave and Oakland lose its soul instead of it losing 36 more lives.

Posted by Ajax Mitchell on 12/07/2016 at 10:22 AM

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: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

"Specifically, Im talking about underfunded government agencies, and the myopic elected officials that ignored these departments needs. "

what agencies exactly are you talking about? fire and inspection departments? by their nature artist warehouses are illegal - people saving money and living under the radar in non-residential spaces. you can't bring the government in on this, they would have a liability nightmare on their hands and would have to evict people to follow the law. unfortunately, if you want to live under the radar, the burden is on you to keep yourself safe. not to blame the victims, but it's the reality of this type of life. maybe there needs to be an underground advocacy group of like-minded building/safety professionals to advise anonymously about a space, but you can't ask anyone to take on responsibility in situations like this. it's a can of worms all around. don't get me wrong, this tragedy is heartbreaking and terrible beyond belief, but blaming the government for this is completely off the mark.

and for the record i completely support artists living in warehouses, or anyone living nontraditional lives. but it comes with a different sets of responsibilities, it's just the reality.

Posted by Cassie Tyler on 12/07/2016 at 10:10 AM

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