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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Government & Elections | Health, Housing, and Public Services
Oakland officials are responsible for Ghost Ship warehouse fire
For years Oakland has only had around four building inspectors to deal with the thousands of code enforcement issues/ blighted issue complaints that occur on an annual basis in this city. Oakland needs more than four building inspectors to deal with all the code enforcement complaints in a city that has around 200,000 rental units!
Oakland officials are responsible for Ghost Ship warehouse fire
Weakening of Oakland's building code enforcement laws has major consequences
By Lynda Carson -- December 4, 2016
Oakland - The City of Oakland including landlords and slumlords operating in town are at fault for the weak code enforcement laws that have resulted in the deadly fire at the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse, located at 1305 31st Avenue, where nine people or more have died.
According to reports, city inspectors ignored code compliance and blighted conditions at the Ghost Ship warehouse.
For years Oakland has only had around four building inspectors to deal with the thousands of code enforcement issues/ blighted issue complaints that occur on an annual basis in this city. Oakland needs more than four building inspectors to deal with all the code enforcement complaints in a city that has around 200,000 rental units.
When renters call the building department services blight hotline at 238-3381 in Oakland, it may take as long as five days for an inspector to go to the address where the code compliance issue or blighted conditions may exist at, to verify the problem.
Often the city worker who takes the complaint over the phone, urges the renters to make their complaints anonymously, and fails to give the renters who file the complaints a tracking number. This takes the renters out of the loop, and often means that the issues are not resolved properly.
At times the code enforcement inspectors fail to contact the renters who file the complaints regarding code compliance issues or blight conditions, and the building services department generally never gives the renters who file complaints any paper work that would detail the status of the complaint, or what kind of fees or fines the landlord has to pay for not being in compliance with Oakland’s building codes.
In brief, the building services department is short on inspectors, and treats renters and their attorneys poorly. Additionally, due to the way they deal with renters who try to get landlords to come into compliance with the law, slumlords are often allowed to run rampant in Oakland until they cannot be ignored any longer, or unless the City Attorney steps in for political reasons. This is because the renters and their attorneys no longer have the power to make code enforcement inspectors, or the building services department to do their jobs properly anymore.
Landlords and slumlords really got the upper hand on renters and especially the building services department in Oakland after a 2011 grand jury report criticized the way the building inspectors were treating slumlords and landlords. The landlords and slumlords conspired to weaken the code enforcement laws of Oakland, and corrupt city officials accommodated the wishes of the wealthy landlords by weakening the code compliance laws.
As a direct result of the 2011 grand jury report, Oakland’s code enforcement laws were weakened, funding was cut from the building services department, and renters no longer have the power they used to have to resolve code compliance and blighted condition issues, with slumlords and landlords.
Because the code compliance laws have been weakened, and renters no longer have the power they used to have in getting the building inspectors to do their job properly, fires like the one that happened at the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse, will occur over and over again.
The City of Oakland needs to step up to the plate and hire more building inspectors, and strengthen it’s code enforcement laws so that the renters can have the power without fear of retaliation to file complaints for building code violations, and blighted conditions. The building services department needs to stop treating renters like second class citizens who end up being stuck in dangerous slum like conditions, while paying Rolls Royce prices for rent.
Lynda Carson may be reached at tenantsrule [at] yahoo.com
It is with deep sadness that I am posting a partial list of names that have been released at this point, of the people who lost their lives in the tragic fire.
• Em Bohlka, 33, Oakland
• Micah Danemayer, 28, Oakland
• Chelsea Dolan, 33, San Francisco
• Feral Pines, 29, Berkeley
• Alex Ghassan, 35, Oakland
• Michela Gregory, 20, South San Francisco
• Edmund Lapine, 34, Oakland
• Jennifer Morris, 21, Foster City
• Benjamin Runnels, 32, Oakland
• Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye, 31, Oakland
• Cash Askew, 22, Oakland
• David Clines, 35, Oakland
• Nick Gomez-Hall, 25, Coronado
• Sara Hoda, 30, Walnut Creek
• Travis Hough, 35, Oakland
• Donna Kellogg, 32, Oakland
• Brandon Chase Wittenauer, 32, Hayward
Updated List Of People Who Died In The Tragic Fire
Out of the 36 people who died, 24 names of the dead have been released to the public by the authorities.
It is with a profound deep sadness that I am posting these names. I have known friends that have lived in some of the warehouses in Oakland, and I am relieved that they are not listed among the dead.
It is my hope that the building services department gets it’s act together with more building inspectors. It is also my hope that city officials figure out how to make the warehouses safer for people without forcing residents out of their housing, at the warehouses, especially if the warehouse was not permitted to have residential housing. The housing crisis is too extreme to be forcing people out on to the streets.
Additionally, I hope that the code enforcement program reforms it's program in such a way that renters are protected when filing complaints for code violations and blight conditions. And that the agency reforms itself in such a way that it will automatically fully provide the renters who file complaints, with all of the existing and future documentation regarding the complaint in a timely manner: Including the enforcement orders placed on the landlords to come into compliance with Oakland's building codes, including any and all actions taken by the city to get the landlords and slumlords, to come into compliance without harming or allowing the retaliation against existing renters.
Cash Askew, 22, Oakland
Em B (a.k.a. Em Bohlka), 33, Oakland
Jonathan Bernbaum, 34, Oakland
David Cline, 24, Oakland
Micah Danemayer, 28, Oakland
Billy Dixon, 35, Oakland
Chelsea Dolan, 33, San Francisco
Alex Ghassan, 35, Oakland
Nick Gomez-Hall, 25, Coronado (San Diego County)
Michela Gregory, 20, South San Francisco
Sara Hoda, 30, Walnut Creek
Travis Hough, 35, Oakland
Johnny Igaz, 34, Oakland
Ara Jo, 29, Oakland
Donna Kellogg, 32, Oakland
Amanda Kershaw, 34, San Francisco
Edmond Lapine, 34, Oakland
Griffin Madden, 23, Berkeley
Draven McGill, 17, Dublin
Jennifer Morris, 21, Foster City
Feral Pines (a.k.a Riley Fritz), 29, Berkeley
Vanessa Plotkin, 21, Oakland
Hanna Ruax, 32, Helsinki
Benjamin Runnels, 32, Oakland
Nicole Siegrist, 29, Oakland
Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye, 31, Oakland
Alex Vega, 22, San Bruno
Brandon Chase Wittenauer, 32, Hayward
No Smoke Detectors: Chor N. Ng is liable...
Chor N. Ng of 3735 Magee Ave, Oakland Ca., 94619
Chor N. Ng is totally liable for the tragedy at the Ghost Ship warehouse fire because he did not install smoke detectors in the warehouse.
Since there were not any smoke detectors at the Ghost Ship warehouse fire, it stands to reason that there may not be smoke detectors at his other properties.
3735 Magee Ave, OAKLAND, CA - Owner: Chor N Ng - Arivify.com
Property record for 3735 MAGEE AVE, OAKLAND, CA which is owned by Chor N Ng.
1305 31st Ave, OAKLAND, CA - Owner: Chor N Ng - Arivify.com
Property record for 1305 31ST AVE, OAKLAND, CA which is owned by Chor N Ng.
918 Webster St, OAKLAND, CA - Owner: Chor N Ng - Arivify.com
Property record for 918 WEBSTER ST, OAKLAND, CA which is owned by Chor N Ng.
443 8th St #1c, OAKLAND, CA - Owner: Chor N Ng - Arivify.com
Property record for 443 8TH ST #1C, OAKLAND, CA which is owned by Chor N Ng.