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

People in power are to blame for this fire? What are you talking about? I seriously doubt that anyone is "blaming artists" for this terrible tragedy. The blame is pretty clearly on negligent landlord, bad-actor leaseholder, and promoters. Safety can be addressed without much money if you take it seriously. Im not saying artists need to bring their buildings "up-to-code" or that they are responsible for this, simply that we re all responsible for our own safety. The megalomaniac leaseholder knew this space was unsafe yet took money for events, the landlord turned a blind eye because the laws are weak, and the promoters wanted to have a party and blindly felt they could trust the other stakeholders. The artists and partygoers are innocent.

Posted by Matthew Aaron Gerring on 12/07/2016 at 10:06 AM

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

No one made Ion build that staircase. And, no one made people perform in "an exquisite deathtrap" as one previous promoter put it. Hold the powerful accountable, but also let the counterculture know that they don't need to go like lambs to the slaughter.
"With that show, I thought, It's at that spot? Fuck that place," Buchanan said. "The last time I was there, I stood by the exit the whole time just in case there was a fire. Having an event there with ten people to me is criminal negligence." This quote is from one of your own articles. Ion, was a particularly reckless player, enabled by others who felt they were serving a greater good.

Posted by LJ Schneider on 12/07/2016 at 10:00 AM

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

Do not blame "lack of funds" and gentrifications for the space managers choice to profit on illegal sub-leasing, failure to install life safety / fire protection standards, adhere to capacity egress rules, and operate an entertainment venue negligently. These laws, like speeding or not driving drunk, are appropriately established to protect people; Government can do better at education and partnering with citizens - absolutely - but the newly arriving customers to the event that night had a reasonable expectation to a safe environment - they were tragically let down. Let's see how the City pivots and takes a leadership role to help make the community safer.

Posted by Bennett Hall on 12/07/2016 at 9:56 AM

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

The way I see it, the fault lies almost entirely with one individual, Mr. Derick Almena. Under his direction, residents were exploited and both the civic authorities and property owners were purposefully decieved. This allowed the conditions to persist and worsen; while Mr. Almena profited financially.

His bizarre and distraught behavior has guilty written all over it. They will be coming for Mr. Almena quite soon, and he knows it.

Posted by Nick Bolla on 12/07/2016 at 9:55 AM

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

Thank you. That home & building owners routinely pay higher permit fees and answer to a stricter intepretation of the code than "development contractors" is bad enough and probably extends to people who want to create creative spaces as well. Use your laser light on this topic.Please.

Posted by visualeyes on 12/07/2016 at 9:50 AM

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

If the "people in power" had shut the place down, or required GS to get the necessary fixes, which would have pushed up what they'd have to charge for rent, the editorial here would say, "Oakland Regulations Push Prices Out of Reach for Most Artists." The "people in power" are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

Posted by Jenni Li on 12/07/2016 at 9:46 AM

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

Underfunded? Because I am able to save money and pay for my own housing and adhere to local building codes I'm the bad guy? Why don't all of you "artists" move somewhere that is more affordable?

Posted by Rob Appeldorn on 12/07/2016 at 9:35 AM

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

my heart breaks at the loss of so many young artists and muscians, who are the soul of Oakland. After the end of fundraising for the victims and families,
a new fundraising drive should start to help fund safety up grades for the many warehouses used by Oakland's artists. Oakland Technology companies
such as Pandora and Uber could spear head this effort . It sems technology, although a huge benefit for Oakland, is also the driver of high rents which are forcing some into unsafe warehouses.

Posted by Judy.Belcher on 12/07/2016 at 9:09 AM

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

Bigfrog - Yes, I think I was incorrect there, in that I'm sure many of the buildings were abandoned or unoccupied when artists moved in. That point was secondary to the rest of the post, and I should have just left it out.

Posted by Carlos Jamal on 12/07/2016 at 8:44 AM

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

Yeh, just like how you "helped" the Church of the Buzzard.

Posted by Rachel Hella Oakland on 12/07/2016 at 8:44 AM
Posted by Abigail Carvalho on 12/07/2016 at 8:36 AM

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

Hey Carlos Jamal - I was one of the original inhabitants at Lobot and nobody was displaced when we moved in. It was formerly a business and the guys who built the living spaces created a place where 15 - 20 people lived. And in my situation I freed up a low rent room for someone else to occupy.

Posted by bigfrog on 12/07/2016 at 8:11 AM

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

Yes! If there is one thing this fire has taught me, it's that this community is so close. Most people I know around town, at cafes, bars, etc., know someone who lost someone, or lost someone directly. To me, threatening to evict those who live in places like the Ghost Ship is to remove Oakland's artists, and whitewash its character. Artists need funding, this country needs to value its artists be proud of them and give them dignity, and instill a value of caring for its buildings. Many many houses here have old electric wiring. If people care about fires so much, why isn't there a program to support safety measures in all of its old houses and having it changed out?

Posted by Cynthia Salaysay on 12/07/2016 at 7:59 AM

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

The housing crisis is a travesty, as was this horrific fire.

Unfortunately, your way of life, of living in a poverty of choice to create art, appears to no longer be sustainable in this area of the world. You were not the first people to live in Oakland, nor would you be the first people displaced. Likely, you displaced someone when you arrived.

You are in charge of your own life. You are at no one's mercy. Your problems and issues have arisen because of the lifestyle choices you have made. You should come to terms with that.

To retrofit buildings for fire safety, you need fire marshals. You need money. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Posted by Carlos Jamal on 12/07/2016 at 6:34 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: “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

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