Restaurant Owner, Warehouse Residents Find Common Ground

Artists, business communities comes together to pay tribute to fire victims, resolve differences

A concerned restaurant owner and residents of a nearby converted warehouse in Oakland came together Sunday night to pay tribute to the lives lost in the Oakland warehouse fire -- and to resolve a disagreement.

Dorothy King of Everett and Jones Barbecue helped organize what was called a candlelight vigil of love, a chance to honor those who died in a Dec. 2 blaze at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse. But the event also enabled King and residents of the nearby Salt Lick warehouse to find a meeting of the minds. King recently called attention to what she believed were unsafe conditions at Salt Lick while those who use the space and are worried about being evicted said it is safe.

What was meant to be an outdoor vigil, with the forming of a line between the restaurant and the warehouse, ended up indoors because of the cold. By the time the event kicked off, both sides understood each other.

"It was just a misunderstanding, I guess miscommunication," King said. "They didn’t understand. They were fearful that I was coming after them, but we met and sat down and saw that we had the same agenda."

Warehouse resident Sam Lefebvre agreed it was just a misunderstanding.

"I was able to connect with Dorothy respresenting the arts studio next door, and we had had plenty of dinners together," Lefebvre said. "And in a couple of weeks, we formed a plan to have them generously donate their space and us get some bands, throw a show that would raise funds for warehouse fire safety improvements."

They've talked and are still talking about creating safe spaces, ending evictions and keeping the entire city a safe place for artists.

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