The City of Oakland issued a report summarizing changes it has made since the Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire last December, which killed 36 people.
The report comes three weeks before the fire’s one-year anniversary and highlights the City’s actions during the past 11 months. Officials focused on six primary areas including: bringing buildings into compliance, increasing fire and building inspection capacity, improving inter-departmental communications, referrals and data sharing; streamlining event permitting, and identifying housing resources.
“One year ago we made a promise to make Oaklanders safer,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a press release. “We delivered on that promise. We approached the complex work with our shared Oakland values. Safety is the priority; preserving cultural community and fighting housing insecurity is the context. Our city has developed long-term, sustainable, changes to make Oakland safer today than it was one year ago, and it’s work we will continue to do.”
Since Mayor Schaaf’s Executive Order issued in January, the City says it has investigated 32 warehouses or commercial properties where unpermitted residential occupancies were suspected. Of the 32 spaces identified, inspectors confirmed unpermitted residential occupancy at 19 properties. The City has closed or resolved 11 of those cases and is working with owners at 20 properties to achieve compliance.
It is unknown how many tenants may have lived in the properties where unpermitted residential occupancy was verified, with the exception of 1218 Miller Avenue, where a fire occurred and displaced 13 residents in January. The City has confirmed that owners evicted tenants at five of the locations.
The report also included an update about staffing at the City’s Fire Prevention Bureau, the agency in charge of conducting fire inspections. The City promised to hire six new inspectors by the end of this year. It’s unknown how many have been hired so far, but the city says it has secured the funding. Leaders say they’ll hire another six by the end of 2018, bringing the total number of inspectors to 20.
Additional actions taken include: implementing new processes to address construction site fires, updating “yellow tag/fire watch” policy, establishing an interdepartmental case management team and more. The report also identifies next steps to achieving the work ahead.