Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has issued an order to protect the city’s DIY venues, ensuring that they are given adequate safety upgrades and that tenants are protected from eviction. The decision comes a month after December’s devastating Ghost Ship fire, which saw 36 people lose their lives at an underground music event.
“Buildings in Oakland should be safe places to live, work and play,” Schaaf said in a statement on Wednesday. “In the wake of the Ghost Ship tragedy, unpermitted living, assembly and work spaces are under heightened scrutiny. We must unite as a city to improve the safety of non-permitted spaces while also working to avoid displacing vulnerable community.”
Evictions and venue closures have been on the rise since the tragic incident, leaving the future of Oakland’s underground art scene in doubt. To rectify this, Schaaf’s new executive order would help to safeguard the community by introducing a compliance plan. If a building is not up to code, and doesn’t present an immediate threat, owners will be given 60 days to fix any safety violations – giving them a chance to avoid eviction.
The executive order claims that inspectors will “generally work in the spirit of cooperation with property owners, tenants and master lessons to correct code violations that are not deemed to be an imminent life safety risk.”
Schaaf has shown a clear commitment to helping the art community following the Ghost Ship fire. In December, she introduced a $1.7 million dollar pledge to build “affordable, safe spaces” for the city’s artists, and “sustainable, long-term solutions” for its cultural organisations.
“We will never forget those lost in the Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire,” she concluded in Wednesday’s statement. “We will learn all we can from this horrific tragedy to make Oakland a safer and more resilient community.”