OAKLAND (CBS SF) — There were new reports of mass evictions in the East Bay on Thursday happening in the wake of the deadly Oakland warehouse fire.
Live-work renters were calling on city officials to help save their homes.READ MORE: SF City Planners Won't Allow Taqueria El Farolito In North Beach Due To 'Chain Store' Ban
A lot of artists in Oakland said they are getting caught between a battle for safety and a battle to save homes.
Many came to plead their case at an Oakland City Council meeting Thursday that focused on resolving the problems that have emerged since the fatal Ghost Ship fire.
“If we lose our home, the Bay Area will lose many of the facets that make it shine so brightly,” said one artist as she addressed the Oakland City Council. “We hope that in the coming days and weeks you provide the leadership necessary to ensure our very survival. Thank you.”
That survival, the artists say, requires a moratorium on evictions and on red tagging buildings. They want a loft law enacted, creating a different set of rules for their type of spaces.
City council said it will hold a special session to address their concerns.
When asked his response to the call to stop the evictions, District 5 Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo replied, “You know, that’s what’s surprising. We can certainly put a moratorium on those evictions.”READ MORE: Fmr. Theranos Lab Director Testifies He Warned Holmes About Faulty Blood-Testing Technology
One woman being evicted from a work-live space who said her name was Tanya explained that her landlord emailed her and her fellow tenants, giving them less than 30 days to get their stuff and get out.
She said the email nebulously cited “safety concerns,” but was dated right after the Ghost Ship fire.
“It’s a knee jerk reaction and there’s no though to the fact that this is our home,” said Tanya. “This is not just losing a space; it is losing a culture.”
Tanya and numerous aerial acrobats live there, but wouldn’t say where it is for fear of blow back from the landlord or the city. She’s an architect and said the space was close to being up to code, something she and her living mates are willing to strive for if they can hang on to their homes.
“We want to work with landlords, city officials and the fire department,” said Tanya. “We all want to work together to make sure these spaces are safe.”
The city council agreed to hold a meeting with artists from the community to try to find a permanent solution, but, many argued it shouldn’t have taken a tragedy:
“We need to protect our residents, but at the same time, know all the codes are enforced by owner,” said Gallo.MORE NEWS: COVID: Initial Vaccine Booster Availability Met with Low Turnout, Confusion
Thursday’s complaints included permitting prices, bureaucracy in the planning and building departments and most especially the timing.