The Ghost Ship fire, which left 36 people dead, kickstarted a debate about artists and housing, among other pressing issues. Soon after the fatal blaze, residents in Oakland claimed that eviction notices at warehouses and underground spots stared to rise.
Now thousands of people have signed a Care 2 petition asking for a temporary halt on any and all fire inspections.
“Ghost Ship was the exception, not the rule, for artist warehouse spaces,” says petition author and SF resident Julie Mastrine, who is also Care2’s Activism Marketing/Social Media Manager. “The city’s witch hunt is breeding fear, demanding cost prohibitive upgrades, and thus causing evictions of people who contribute to the artistic, creative spirit of the Bay Area. My Care2 petition is imploring San Francisco and Oakland to stop taking a punitive approach to safety and to work with, not against, artists.”
The petition has called for the following:
- Immediately cease unsolicited artist building inspections until more resources are in place for artists to either 1) bring their buildings up to code in an affordable way or 2) access new affordable housing
- Not be so heavy-handed in inspections and enforcement that evictions result
- Waive permit fees associated with building upgrades like sprinkler systems, exits, etc. anywhere this is possible.
Mastrine will deliver the petition (now upward of 9,000 signatures) to Oakland City Hall on Wednesday. She adds, “The city government is well-intentioned and wants people to be safe, but they must consider the consequences of code enforcement, which are displacement and eviction.”
In addition to the petition, high-profile civil rights lawyer John Burris, Tupac Shaku’s former attorney, is now helping area artists fight eviction. “We're concerned that this may turn into a boondoggle for land owners,” says Burris.