Dear (Mayor/City Council Person),
As a member of Oakland’s artist community, I must first and foremost acknowledge the unimaginable loss suffered this weekend on both a personal level and to the Oakland arts and music community. Every single person lost was a pillar and an irreplaceable force in the Oakland arts and music community.
Sadly, as we process our immeasurable grief, we are simultaneously forced to grapple with the immediate fear of losing our homes and our livelihoods. Rooted in Oakland’s housing crisis, affordable spaces for artists and musicians are a limited and finite resource. When one is lost, it is gone for good and the infrastructure available to Oakland artists shrinks. These spaces have no replacement. If you take away our spaces, you take art and music out of Oakland.
I recognize that the magnitude of this event creates pressure to take immediate action in cracking down and condemning these spaces. However, it is important to recognize that doing so will not solve the long-term problem and will immediately decimate the creative community of Oakland.
We, as artists, want our local government to work with us in making these places safer and to not punish them for their existence. It is also important for the City, as it works to address the systemic issue of safety in these spaces, to be mindful that they are both our homes and our places of work, making them a necessity in our survival. Because these spaces are critical to our work and our livelihood, it is time to find sustainable long term solutions that fit the needs of all stakeholders. Again, without theses spaces there is no art or music and we lose the contributions they make to Oakland’s identity.
To address these concerns, I recommend the following:
- An immediate sixty-day moratorium on evictions and red tags of warehouses/live-work spaces, as a necessary step toward preserving art and music in Oakland, and will protect the spaces we have while ensuring the safety of future spaces.
- During this moratorium the City and the artist community collaborate on the development of policies and practices that address both the short and long-term concerns. Actions by other cities, e.g., New York City’s Loft Law, can provide some guidance and direction.
- Creating and implementing a fast track process of assessing existing warehouses, while working with artists to bring buildings up to code.
- A right of return for warehouses/live-work spaces after they have been brought up to fire codes.
- Financial assistance from the City to upgrade existing spaces.
- Commercial rent protections for everyone.
In closing, I wish to thank the Mayor and City Council Members for listening and look forward to a response by
City Council Members Email Address:
Dan Kalb (District 1):
Abel J. Guillén (District 2):
Lynette Gibson McElhaney (District 3):
Annie Campbell Washington (District 4):
Noel Gallo (District 5):
Desley Brooks (District 6):
Larry E. Reid (District 7)
Rebecca Kaplan (Council Member At Large)