Oakland Mayor Issues Order to Protect DIY Spaces After Ghost Ship Fire

Tenants will not face eviction while owners get buildings up to code

The mayor of Oakland issued an executive order protecting tenants in DIY spaces from evictions while owners get their buildings up to code. Credit: Josh Edelson/AP

Oakland, California Mayor Libby Schaaf issued an executive order that will protect tenants and DIY venues as the city improves safety measures in such spaces following the devastating Ghost Ship fire last year, Thump reports.

"Buildings in Oakland should be safe places to live, work and play," said Schaaf in a statement. "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 members."

Executive Order 2017-1 will specifically protect tenants and workers in unpermitted spaces from eviction or displacement, unless the building presents an immediate threat. Evictions from DIY spaces hit Oakland and other cities after a fire broke out during a concert at the Ghost Ship in December, killing 36 people. The warehouse served as both a venue and a living space.

For buildings not up to code, owners can enter into a compliance plan with the city that will give them 60 days to fix potential violations and get properly zoned. The order also urged inspectors to "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."

Tenants will be protected from eviction during this 60-day period, while Oakland officials begin reviewing various housing ordinances to enact changes that will help further curb displacement. The order also calls for a revamped "FAQ" and public education plan to clarify the rights and duties of tenants, workers and landlords, and creates a new group that will seek to improve and encourage greater compliance with permitting requirements for special events.

"We will never forget those lost in the Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire and we will learn all we can from this horrific tragedy to make Oakland a safer and more resilient community," Schaaf concluded.

Executive Order 2017-1 follows Schaaf's $1.7 million pledge to create and sustain "affordable, safe spaces" for local artists and arts organizations. The money will provide technical and financial assistance to organizations facing displacement, and help at-risk organizations acquire real estate to serve as permanent art spaces.