“Still, since tenants are technically not supposed to live in warehouses like the Ghost Ship, any large-scale solution to allow them to stay will probably come from legislation approved by the city.
During a City Council meeting on Tuesday, several people used the public discussion period to complain that the city was responsible for unfair evictions since the Ghost Ship fire. Many said the city needed to come up with more affordable-housing options before going into other warehouses and kicking out people who have nowhere else to go. At least one man who lost a friend in the fire and spoke at the meeting, Steven DeCaprio, wants the city to stop doing inspections for the time being and come up with a housing plan for people in warehouses.”
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)
There are good lawyers in the bay!
No, not deep under the bay bridge . . . and they can help!
Bay Area Legal Aid – Housing Preservation
The Housing Preservation practice is designed to protect families from illegal evictions, including eviction after foreclosure; substandard housing conditions; and wrongful denials and terminations of housing subsidies. The practice also works to preserve and expand affordable housing and protect families from foreclosure rescue scams.
BayLegal serves as the Bay Area’s leading provider of legal aid to individuals facing discrimination in housing. BayLegal’s commitment to enforcing federal fair housing laws is at the center of the practice. BayLegal represents people discriminated against in housing on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, family status or other protected classes.
An organization of housing activists dedicated to protecting tenant rights and interests. OTU does this by working directly with tenants in their struggle with landlords, impacting legislation and public policy about housing, community education, and by working with other organizations committed to furthering renters’ rights. Oakland Tenants Union is open to anyone who shares our core values and who believes that tenants themselves have the primary responsibility to work on their own behalf.
HAC provides free public benefits advocacy to people who are homeless and mentally ill in Alameda County. In addition to helping clients obtain sustainable income and health insurance, HAC also works with community stakeholders to reduce the harms associated with a lack of housing and healthcare. Combining professionalism and compassion, HAC provides barrier-free legal assistance to the hardest to reach populations.
We will provide updates about fundraising, community safety, opportunities to volunteer, and whatever we find of interest to a blog that you can find here.