The Ghost Ship warehouse fire that claimed 36 lives in December of last year has led to a new discussion about DIY space safety and tenants rights. While DIY organizers, architects and others have taken it upon themselves to spread the word about how to build spaces that aren’t hazardous, the City of Oakland is looking for new ways to protect the peoplw who have been forced into these spaces by circumstance and the Bay Area’s housing crisis.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued an executive order on January 11 that attacks the problem of unsafe and less-than-legal venues from both sides. While the order makes it easier for landlords to have buildings that people are living in properly inspected and re-zoned, it also provides beefed-up tenant protections for the people living in the spaces to avoid unnecessary or sudden displacement.
“We must unite as a City to improve the safety of non-conforming spaces while also working to avoid displacing vulnerable community members,” Schaaf said in a statement about her order. “In the aftermath of the Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire, property owners have become more aware of the potential hazards of allowing unpermitted uses in former warehouse and industrial buildings and have, in some cases, evicted current tenants in an effort to reduce personal liability. Such evictions have resulted in displacement of people with few options for alternate housing or workspace due to the current affordability crisis.”
The new order gives landlords 60 days to correct any code violations and institutes a five-day warning period before any inspectors can enter a space where tenants are living against code. It also asks for a review of the city’s budget to see if more money can be put toward bringing illegal living spaces up to code.
Check out the full order via Schaaf’s Twitter below: