SF Warehouse Flagged for Conversion into Illegal HousingDecember 7, 2016
With the tragic Ghost Ship fire leading to heightened concerns about the underground conversion of industrial buildings into un-permitted dwelling units, a formal complaint has been filed with the city alleging that the 14,000-square-foot warehouse at 1660 Jerrold Avenue, adjacent to Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, is illegally being used for housing in addition to serving as a theater for Cyclecide.
A Notice of Enforcement was sent to the San Bruno-based owner of the building yesterday, with a copy to the building’s occupants, providing 15 days to respond or face a formal Notice of Violation and potential fines.
Comments from Plugged-In Readers
Given that the overwhelming percentage of the victims were dance attendees – not residents – I would think the “theater” aspect would be of more concern. Indeed “places of assembly” would seem to be inherently more dangerous (than unpermitted residences) just by virtue of large numbers of people (relatively) unfamiliar w/ a venue…and unfortunately hard to detect, if they’re transitory.
Although preliminary, it appears the cause of the fire was related to the residential use, and not the performance.
The scale of death was related to the performance, while the fire was related directly to the flouting of building codes and unsafe conditions for everyone. I am sure there will be a LOT more investigations of illegal spaces, but I think it would be wise for cities to triage issues to the degree that they can, and try to avoid just throwing people out into the street.
I would concur, and point out – or at least suggest – that the surge in homelessness had its roots in the 50’s and 60’s when well-meaning people began to condemn – legally, not just morally – SRO’s and flophouses for fire and safety violations, thinking that they would be made safe…but they ended up being closed instead.
I suspect that most of the people who condemned the flophouses in the 50s and 60s were only too happy to see the flophouses close. Though they probably thought the residents would be forced to leave the city, and not end up on the streets.
The scale. … Obviously but it was the unpermitted use which was the cause of the problem though I also would hate to see the wholesale crackdown on such arrangements applying each and every provision of the codes. It seems such operations are an ineffable part of the “urban scene” — just as street murders, another one of which occurred in the Mission last night.
So you’re willing to “pick and choose” which codes are enforced. Do you realized that building codes are for the “health, safety and welfare” of the public?
I think your viewpoint is an unfortunate one, but one that many will support, implying that some lives may be lost in the future (again) because, well that’s just “part of the scene”. Heaven forbid, we dont want artists “thrown in the street”, but I suppose a few dead ones are an acceptable choice.
Hardly perfect, but risk is a part of living a Life worth living. Individuals make choices they’re comfortable with. Like living in a city teeming with “danger.”
Perhaps your argument would be stronger if you applied it to zoning “codes” – i.e. unpermitted living spaces – rather than (H&S) codes. There might still be some issue w/ things like egress requirements, but structural issues would be covered. Or is that what you meant?
@Orland – I doubt that all of the people who died in the Ghost Shape fire were aware how unsafe it was. I really doubt they had all the facts to make the “decision” you speak of.
What happened, while awful, is extremely rare and acceptably preferable to “reforms” which would assure such circumstances and result could never happen again. That would be too great a loss.
@Orland – I disagree and think the friends and families of the 36 people who perished in this fire would probably disagree with you as well.
OF COURSE they would. I’m speaking at a Societal level covering everywhere from Brooklyn to Berlin to Melbourne to Lima to Dogpatch.
no, not “acceptably preferable” and not legal nor ethical either.
“what happened” is not “acceptable” in any community in this country, and what is “preferable” is actions by Oakland immediately and sustained indefinitely to reduce the odds that “what happened” ever “happen” again to as close to absolute zero as practical. And we don’t need to ask the grieving or hold a referendum to know the basic common humanity to provide for the care and protection of others.
“such operations” are an unallowable and unallowed “part of the urban scene”. This was an obscene operation, and remained a threat for so long to so many because enforcement didn’t ‘happen’ until after this ineffable tragedy.
Well, you’ve effectively eliminated the 4th Amendment. While you’re at it, could you please do away with the 2nd as well?
yeah, I guess you are right: the only thing in the years of the buildup to this “happening” that prevented Oakland gubment from practical and effective enforcement of the relevant health and safety laws was their scrupulous adherence to the dictates of the Bill of Rights. I plan to use your wise counsel to avoid inspection the next time a fire marshal or building inspector tries to visit one of my buildings. Thanks for the tip. Would you like an invite to our next indoor 4th of July “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice” fireworks celebration? It is a bring-your-own-escape-route affair.
i hope all of these illegal units get rooted out of the city
“Not legal or ethical” … “[nor] acceptable in any community” …. “immediately and sustained indefinitely” …. “absolute zero” …. “unallowable and unallowed” …. “enforcement”
“as close to absolute zero as practical”; cute how you edit quotes to mislead. Now if you would like to defend your indefensible earlier statements…
Nothing needy of “defense.”
First, what you propose would cause massive displacement around the world and greatly diminish the human experience.
Secondly, what you seek could not be accomplished “as close to [absolutely] as practical” without unconstitutionally intrusive searches.
Sh*t happens. Some happened in Oakland last week. Time to move on still the wiser without over-reacting.
Well someone is certainly in need of better reading comprehension. Where I wrote “this country” you read “the world”, where I wrote “as practical” you read or hallucinated some bizarre threat to “greatly diminish human experience” and “cause massive displacement” and violate the US Constitution, where we all read about the tragic deaths of many people in a matter of minutes in an utterly preventable accident you’ve transformed into a “happening”. That level and consistency of semantic disablement and emotional displacement borders on the deranged.
Hallucinate as much as you may about what I write, but it has become clear that the City of Oakland was too lax in responding to the many complaints and warning signs wrt to this place of “happening”. When there is a failure this catastrophic we need to learn from it and make changes to reduce the odds in the future and not just “move on” while making callous statements in passive voice about it being in some weird and inexplicable way “acceptably preferable”….
I guess I forgot: you are the King of Over-reaction.
Yeah, well you seem to have forgotten that I was one of many people to oppose what you wrote on this thread. As for reactions, I humbly cede to you the full titles, privileges, and dishonor due your enduring ineffability. Oh well, as an artist and former resident of Philly might have said: “all things considered, I’d rather be in a warehouse firestorm.”
You seem to lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with two very different issues here: “this should never have happened” (arguably true though I am inclined to agree with Mayor Schaff that the question be objectively examined without witch-hunting and blame-gaming) and “this must never happen again” (where you go totally off the rails).
Wow, speaking of losing sight: I never wrote “this must never happen again”, but in my first post I did write “reduce the odds … as practical.” Ya might wanna notice the semantic difference. And if you are going to quote me, well then quote me and don’t repeatedly misquote or fabricate. Why do you keep going on making these “off the rails” falsehoods?
Oh, now who is so selectively parsing his quotes? This time you chose to omit, “to ABSOLUTE ZERO (emphasis supplied)” which is only of theoretical possibility in itself.
No over-reaction there.
Zero “happenings” of mass deaths by fire should be the target set by policy, like it is for SF’s Vision Zero and many other gubment policies, including, FTR, the official Oakland policy for the number of commercial buildings that are not fire inspected each year: “The Commercial Inspection Program mandates that annual inspections of all commercial facilities and multi-family residences (apartments, hotels, motels, etc.) be conducted as designated by the State of California Health and Safety Code, and City of Oakland ordinance.”
As an aid to the parse and/or math challenged, notice that “all” means 100%, absolutely. And that means the existing policy is absolutely zero percentage are not inspected, by “mandate” — whatever that means in practice.
In the practical real world Oakland had not conducted a fire inspection of that commercial building for at least a decade and may not have had any kind of inspection for 30 years. The building wasn’t even on the Fire Marshall’s inspection list/database. Yet, it is about a block away from an Oakland firestation and was hiding in plain blight. Wonder who if anyone will be held accountable by Mayor Schaaf for not doing their job for at least a decade.
BTW, adding an “absolute” to zero doesn’t change the value of zero, it merely signifies a greater commitment to it than the usual laissez-fire approach that contributed to this tragedy. But then that is a difference between math and accountability. Holding the proverbial feet to the fire of those responsible for enforcing this official Oakland absolute zero non-compliance policy is now a community responsibility. Waving it off with your “sh*t happens” “move on” and burying it under weird euphemisms such as “what happened” and the despicable moral calculus of your “acceptably preferable” while trying to distract with trivialities like the parsing and capitalization of “ABSOLUTE” and outright falsifying quotes is just the kind of reaction that increases the odds of more such “happenings” and more eulogies where I think we all know your flippant comments will not be welcome.
So, no, no over reaction at all, and indeed long past time for proactive action, including objectively examining the failure of the City of Oakland to execute in practice their own long standing mandated absolute zero policy. Who will inspect the non-inspectors?
You are a master at imbuing to others’ positions things that just are not there. I’m hardly defending the City of Oakland’s actions. At the same time, I’m not particular fixated upon its performance.
What happened (an ignition of unknown origin likely related to the unpermitted residential use) was horrific made all the more so by the very inopportune timing of its occurring at the time of the further unpermitted use.
Moving forward, I am simply concerned that the primary effect of enhanced scrutiny will be widespread disruption of artists’ pursuit of lifestyles only possible because they are “at the margins.”
I balance that concern against the horror of the Oakland tragedy by the extreme rarity of such occurances in spite the universal expression of artistic alternatives in all civilizations. Nothing more.
“Artists’ spaces face scrutiny — Inspections, evictions occurring nationwide as cities crack down” (SF Chronicle 12/10/2016, front page )
Ah, but I never wrote or thought you were defending Oakland gubment. Nope, I replied directly to your statement that “What happened, while awful, is extremely rare and acceptably preferable to “reforms” which would assure such circumstances and result could never happen again.”
Notice that one “reform” that well could have prevented this catastrophe would have been for Oakland gubment to have conducted the annual inspections of this warehouse mandated by their own official policy. Now you have never explained how a routine annual safety inspection of this building would have been such a threat to civilization or the art community or whatever it is that so concerns you that you “prefer” the risk of “what happened.”
FWIW, I’m not clueless about this “urban scene” as you call it. I’ve had friends that ran illegal raves/edm in their warehouse-residences to pay the rent, other friends that tour and perform in them mostly in the US and EU, and I’ve been in more than a few sketchy warehouses in more than a few sketchy neighborhoods, including in Oakland. And I’ve also had the joy of being responsible for old rundown buildings in the Bay Area during lifesafety inspections and permitted construction.
Well designed and administer health and safety regulations are hallmarks of civilization, not the source of it’s demise. Everyone’s living spaces deserve to be safe and well-regulated, particularly in more crowded/dangerous places. Hopefully, my objection to your position wrt to how to avoid more of “what happened” is becoming clearer, or are you still lost in your (un)civilized smoke screen?
The Bayview is one of the last affordable neighborhoods in SF for artists… whether to live or create or share our art. PLEASE let there be a way to preserve AND nurture these cultural spaces that are the backbone of vibrancy and beauty in our neighborhood WHILE ensuring safety!
The city has programs to help businesses with renovation costs… it MUST be able to work with artists groups and help with the cost of bringing spaces like these up to safety code instead of cracking down and wiping us out! This is a wakeup call to our civic leaders that we need your help!
Agreed, and I believe some of the new developments from Dogpatch to Hunter’s Point are prioritizing affordable live/work artist spaces. Anyone have links?
I don’t think that will help much. Sure, some artists will get nice spaces, though I wonder what the selection criteria are. But even if they manage to select excellent artists for all the spaces, there will still be young people arriving from Fresno looking to make something, and there will be no new apartments for them, so warehouse living will continue to be their best option.
Hunters Point Shipyard Artists is the largest artist colony in the country. Ive heard that it will be preserved and improved as part of all the new development in the Bayview. I hope this development includes affordable housing. I heard that they’re trying to make space in Pier 70 too…
The Minnesota project is another example of trying to create space for artists, and it’s good they’re trying, but like Alai said who gets to say which artists deserve the fancy new architect-designed space and which “aren’t good enough?” Everyone needs to feel like they can have a chance to carve out an opportunity here, otherwise where’s the hope? And let’s get real the whole the whole “DoReMi art district” thing reeks of just another REAL ESTATE attempt to rebrand our communities. The rents in Dogpatch, Potrero and Mission… seriously? What artists can afford to live there? The real opportunities for artists are going to end up being the self-made spaces in places like Bayview or Oakland. But I guess these wouldn’t didn’t fit in the trendy-cutesy DoReMi human-centipede-neighborhood-name so the artist communities here didn’t make the cut.
It’s so hard to talk about these spaces as either living spaces or production spaces or performance spaces… for so many artists CREATING and SHARING are all part of LIVING. If we can’t afford to live here, can we really create here? Do we even want to share our art here?
Why “here”? I’m not being snarky, I’m trying to understand. Why not Tehama County, or places with cheap land and cheap housing? No audience? Lack of collaborators? Lack of granting entities?
Katdip: All of the above, probably, and other reasons I haven’t thought of.
I mean, it’s not like poor artists aren’t aware of the existence of Tehama County. Some of them probably came from there. They aren’t living in the Bay Area to spite you, they’re living here because they believe that they will have a better quality of life, even with housing costs as high as they are. You’re welcome to try to convince them otherwise (perhaps the city should put up billboards that say “Start a new life in the Offworld Colo– I mean, Tehama County”) but I suspect they have their reasons.
Please define “affordable,” Hunter.
Converting the ghostship warehouse to safe living units PER BUILDING CODE would likely cost more than the property was worth in the first place and might not have been possible at all.
I vote to spend my tax dollars on accommodations to help the TRULY needy such as elderly, handicapped, veterans suffering from PTSD, etc. Millennials (or anyone) making the choice to pursue an interest with little or no earning potential does not qualify as needy in my book. Actors are artists too, and tend to actually work a day job to fund the cost of their living and their art. While I think it’s nice that cities help “the arts” and give grants and encourage affordable work spaces and what not, this does not mean that every single person who calls themselves an artist is entitled to taxpayer subsidized living in the city and neighborhood of their choice.
Spoken like a truly soleless person. I’d rather help artists than the inifinte amount of needy out there, cause guess what? They keep piling into SF for services. Only artist can rescue this city from itself.
How do you know that Realist is “soleless”? Have you seen his feet? Is he bare-footed.
Aside from you spelling, your labeling of those who disagree with your “make everyone give free stuff to ‘artists’ ” as being somehow less that human is appalling.
As to your preference of spending public $$$ to support “artists” rather than, say contributing to charities that feed starving people in famines (because there’s an “infinite amount of them”), weil….. Well, well, well, well….. Barf.
My philanthropy goes entirely to the “needy” – whom I describe as those in desperate need of food, clean water, sanitation. I’d much prefer to see that a little girl in Africa doesn’t die of malnutrition, than see that someone who slaps garbage together and calls it “art” gets free $$$ to enjoy living in the most expensive city in the country, cuz “I deserve it”.
And I’m sure that makes you feel better about yourself. So go ahead and indulge, in a vein attempt to assuage your guilt for whatever demons you believe are buried in your psyche.
But that has nothing to do with having a bit of soul and accomdation for art and artists. The whole point is that a city rich in arts provides something ephemeral and spiritually enlightening to its population. Not all artists to everyone of course. But most of us are touched by some art exhibit, or happening we experience that wasn’t planned or that we paid no money for. Not everything has to be a rational means to an end, including bloating the coffers of providers for the needy. I support the arts, and I’m happy to have my (significant) amount of property taxes going to the arts rather than another BS scheme by the commie BOS to funnel my money towards endless and anonymous affordable housing. I’d much rather have set asides for artist warehouse projects to get some support for basic safety.
If you are “touched” by the art, then maybe you should pay for it so the artist can have an income to pay for safe, legal housing. No? Are you entitled to enjoy free art on someone else’s dime? As for your tirade about EM’s demons and guilt and what not, I’m not sure where to begin. In fact, I won’t begin because I couldn’t possibly express my opinion about your attitude in language that the moderators would find acceptable.
He proudly dubs himself a “rentier” which means his entire self image is based on sponging off the world. He finds art “purty” so we should all pay for it.
RE: The Oakland Ghost Ship fire
So this is why we need “the jackbooted heel of government regulations on the necks of small businesses and entrepreneurs” lifted? The regulations mean nothing if not obeyed OR enforced.
No fair mixing metaphors: if there’s one small upside to this horror it’s that for once we weren’t told by someone that “concealed carry could have prevented this”.
This is the SF Bay Area, where we have to pass a law in order to get the authorities to enforce an existing law.
This is completely wrong. The vast majority of laws and regulations on the books are enforced only in the breach. I.e. they must be followed, but we don’t assign armies of monitors to check compliance.
I get it that reports of non-compliance were filed in the Oakland matter. But it is complicated to get court orders to force an inspection (the inspectors were refused entry). Inspectors cannot just battering ram a door to take a look.
Well with a city budget approaching $10 Billion dollars, heaven forbid we spend a few hundred thousand mitigating dangerous conditions in these spaces instead of just closing them.
Wouldn’t even begin to touch the problem.
Perhaps all the overcrowded multi-unit buildings in the Mission could be next. Far too many people in some of them. A duplex w/ and electrical overload had a fire which damage the adjacent houses, more than 25 people moved out, then after it was ‘fixed’ moved right back in!!! It’s still over crowded and is a liability for surrounding properties.
The Ghost ship’s residential tenancy inside a commercial (storage facility) reminds me of Jane Kim who stood in the way to let the owner of a commercial property on Market from evicting the tenants who were living there. It’s politicians like her who should not be standing in the way of safe building codes.
These stories do not bode well for tenants or owners. Buildings are designed to codes for certain types of occupancies and a change in use can be a major life safety issue. Politicians like Jane Kim are the very ones putting tenants in jepoardy, pandering for political gains at their expense.
I doubt very much that safety was a motivating factor in the eviction if there even was such a factor.
The owner wanted to return it to the use it was built & zone for. Jane Kim stood in the way.
I think it’s important to note whether something is up to code is a binary question, how close something is to code is never asked. After reading this article on the actual conditions, my friend described the quality of their setup as a hobo camp. To say that this place was not up to code is to go to a refugee camp and complain about lack of GFCI outlets. I’ve never ever been to an underground place that was this sketchy.
Going back to this article, I doubt there could be a warehouse that deviates further from code than Ghost Ship.
Totally agree. Just because they are “artists” doesn’t mean they can’t make their ad hoc spaces safe by wiring to code, building stairs out of metal, adding exits, and using the space safely (like, why not put the dance space on the first floor so you have less chance of blocked egress?)
Not advocating unpermitted uses, but if you are going to flout the law you might as well do it safely. Many of my artist friends are in the building trades and know how to do things the “right way”, and it’s not even that much more expensive. Look at the level of engineering of the Burning Man structures.
Exactly. Especially if there are children present. I get that we can accept some artists choosing to live an edgier, riskier life. Children don’t have a say, though
The firefighters who were called to the venue and continued rescue operations despite the risk of the structure collapsing didn’t have a say, either.
Yes, actually, they did. When they decided to become firefighters they understood that this is their job. They are well-compensated to undertake this risk, and they know full well the risks their job entails.
Good point Martin. The DBI is set up for binary decisions on whether a space is set up for occupancy. Any single violation prevents the permit from being signed off, even if it is a minor violation with negligible safety impact. That makes it hard for some buildings owned or occupied by people with limited funds to get permitted. What happens of course is unpermitted work, some of which is excellent and safe. Other work is terribly dangerous. By pushing this situation underground, people unknowingly end up in extremely unsafe buildings.
Maybe to get this out in the daylight we need more shades of gray in building safety status instead of the binary occupancy signoff. Something like LA’s restaurant A-F rating system. Of course at some poor level of code compliance (F?) the authorities have to step in and red-tag a building. Evict the occupants until some baseline level of safety is provided. And that baseline is not the existing building code. Implementing baseline fixes will be less expensive than reaching full code compliance and therefore in practice will result in less extremely dangerous buildings.
I really like this idea. Restaurants have health scores posted. Buildings could have posted safety scores at the entrance. I may be willing to go to events in spaces that are rated A-C, but not below. some might be ok with D and E, but anything getting an F should be shut down. Saftey rating legally goes into all rental/lease agreements. New construction must be to A, but retrofit conversions can be lower down the rating scale…..
really interesting argument, Milkshake.
People may not realize that the California Building Code covers eight volumes (not that every volume applies) and is constantly being updated. It is a challenge even for professionals.
While I like the idea, da problem is that you probably have to change this at the state level, which is where the codes originate. Good luck with attracting sympathy and understanding from X bland suburb rep to A-F the building codes so SF can have cool alt art spaces.
And as for DBI being set up for binary decisions, yes in theory. But I’ve seen so many examples flagrant oversight on some important code compliance. It’s more of a random crap shoot. I’ve had them overlook some important stuff on my projects, where I could skip X and Y, but I tell the contractor to do it right because I know it’s not a good idea to take advantage of the inspectors negligence. (OTOH whenever they overlook some stupid ass “code” issue that adds zero value, I party like a rock star and skip the useless crap. And trust me, there’s plenty of it.)
I feel like even $2000 worth of electrical work would have made a night and day difference. What they did looks like got second hand or for free from dumpsters.
$2,000? Try adding two more zeros to that figure, and we might get to “safe”.
No eccemorons sometimes a couple of grand gets you out of the high risk ditch into something passable.
No one has any right to live in the bay area, just because they want to. Time to move somewhere that is both cheaper and has space that is safe for living and working.
Indeed, anon. So let’s make wealthy people get on waiting lists for housing they can afford.
They are. But the waiting lists for housing wealthy people can afford are quite a bit shorter. Get it?
My first reaction is similar – there are lots of cheap safe warehouses (and housing) in Bakersfield, Weed, Red Bluff for artists to practice their craft. Paucity of coffee shops and fellow travelers? OTOH, I recognize an urban area would suffer without the creative classes, but personally would never have gone to a show at Ghost Ship.
Structure fires are, fortunately, relatively rare. You are far more likely to be killed in a car accident. If you move to Bakersfield etc., you’re likely to be driving far more, so it’s not clear that you’d actually be any safer overall. Especially if you can’t afford a late-model SUV. Moreover, I suspect it’s far easier and cheaper to identify and correct fire safety problems in the place you live than to ensure that you’ll be safe on the roads.
I agree with anon and with Katdip. Ive said many times here that if you can NOT afford to live here, you should seriously consider where you can afford to live.
I also think too many “artists”, and I use that term loosely, simply want to live the “free spiriit, boho” life with few responsibilities. “let’s just crash somewhere, anywhere, we’re artists, we’re cool”. To hell with the zoning, the safety, the crowding. Let’s just have fun, do drugs, play loud music and pretend we’re all a bunch of Rauschenberg wanna-be’s.
And to be clear, I am very sad and sorry so many people died in the fire. There are others higher up on the chain who are also responsible for this tragedy.
Agree. There are cheaper places to live like Detroit & Baltimore. If you can’t afford to live here you need to move. Most of the “artists” came from elsewhere. Time to go.
Building codes and permitted uses have are based on years of incremental learning from past “disasters”. Why keep tempting fate? Zoning too….separate uses by districts…mixing uses means you gotta comply with code.
Isn’t it interesting that Socketsite readers could come up with reasonable and viable solutions (commercial building safety rating system) in a matter of a few days, while government entities (presumably with decades of technical experience) could not agree on solutions?
It makes me wonder why on earth do we waste so much taxpayer time and money on the “system” when we could have been light years ahead w/o being bogged down.
Whoa!! easy there, Ayn Rand: I don’t know that anyone has come up with “reasonable and viable solutions” … (what “problem” are we solving anyway? housing costs? dangerous properties? crackpot builders?)
The description of building safety as “binary” is simplistic and misleading; in reality there is considerable flexibility in codes and their enforcement: what’s OK for a SFR isn’t allowed for an apartment house, OK for a residential building, but not for a commercial one, for “under 10 persons” but not “more than 50”, etc.; similarly, in many cases occupancy is allowed w/ the proviso that the hazard be corrected. It’s not like someone is thrown in the street just b/c their fire extinguisher hose is cracked.
The reality is codes are meant to be minimum standards so a building is safe in all respects – it doesn’t burn down AND it doesn’t fall down AND someone doesn’t electrocute themself, etc. A rating system isn’t going to result in a structure which only meets some of those criteria getting a “C” or “a “D” – they’re all going to still get “F” – but instead we’d have “”Too Dangerous” ,”Not quite as bad”, “Almost Good”. Better? I dunno…but certainly more complex.
We are talking about the building at hand, not larger housing/societal issues. If you lump all the issues together, nothing will get accomplished.
It is really about assumption of risk. Any user who takes a product or building out of its “safe” use, assumes the risk of any forseeable hazards which may arise. Code violations do not always equate habitability issues.
So how do you view risks if a neighboring home or business shares a wall? Or if guests or children are in a building and they have no clue how dangerous it is?
OK, fine: what would a “flexible rating” system have accomplished here? I don’t think the building would have been considered “safe ” – i.e. something other than an “F” – under any usage; and not b/c of some fastidious adherence to technicalities, but b/c it was a deathtrap. Period.
If your argument is that this was a personal issue b/w the owner, the renter and whomever he invited in, then that’s a personal liberty issue – how much, if at all, we should protect idiots from themselves; and while you’re free to argue “not at all”, others are free to argue “at least a little”….it’s hardly being “light years ahead, it’s flying in opposite directions.
Not personal liberty issue, a legal liability issue. Building owner leases commercial warehouse to tenant who may have violated the terms of the lease regarding its permissible uses (highly doubt the permissible uses include residential use or event parties.) Commercial buildings have different safety code requirements than residential, and commercial leases are subjected to different standards than residential ones. Tenant decides to sublet space to other subtenants for residential and other prohibited uses and actively tries to hide the fact from building owner, and city building inspector. Legal liability rests on the tenant in the Ghost Ship instance.
As for other warehouse spaces being used for non-permitted residential use where there are also serious safety concerns, the legal parties (building owner, master tenant, or subtenants) to such arrangements need to examine their on risk/reward tolerance.
My sense is that, legally, the master tenant is headed to jail for a LONG time.
AND, the owner’s daughter also sent the owner to jail for a decent stretch, when she publicly admitted that the “warehouse” they were renting was “used as artists’ working spaces – but we didn’t know anyone lived there”. A warehouse is a storage facility. Artists’ workspaces require considerable code upgrading (plus a change in zoning use), which were never done.
Highly doubtful building owner will be charged criminally as criminal negligence has a high standard even when there is loss of life. Statements made by the owner’s daughter fail to show criminal liability since she is not presumed to have a full and complete understanding of what artist collective or workshop is. In commercial uses, the tenant (not the owner) bears the ultimate responsibility to check with appropriate city departments to insure whatever commercial use is sanctioned and permitted.
None of the city departments could be sued due to governmental immunity prohibiting such suits. Realistically, the master tenant in the Ghost Ship fire is likely judgment proof (whatever money he has will not sufficiently cover losses.) Since there was impermissible use involved, doubtful any property liability insurance will cover the building losses (and/or wrongful death suits.)
The tragedy at the Ghost Ship saddens me greatly, but I am absolutely disgusted by how the media is capitalizing on this tragedy to create a witch hunt… Comparatively, how many serious incidents have there been at Bay Area underground art spaces in the last 40 years?
im surprised at how many are fighting against taking action on illegal units. this is a big public health hazard and every illegal unit should be shut down immediately
You are making a blanket statement that this is a “big public health hazard” yet, as Neighbour points out, how many tragedies have there been?
Versus the daily holocaust of the freeway culture. If we are looking to “solve” a big public health hazard, ban the private automobile first. Just sayin’
i see youre a rationale person. TIC
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