Wow. So I had a post for today about the industrial land-use policy that the Council approved on Tuesday. I figured it was mostly ready, but just needed a little AM editing. Then I read this. Did the reporters and I watch the same meeting? It certainly doesn’t sound like it. They sort-of got the basic idea right, which was that the Tidewater Area was exempted from the proposal, while West Oakland wasn’t. But beyond that…I don’t even know what to say. Now I have to entirely rewrite my blog, and I don’t know when I’ll be getting to that.
In the meantime, let’s look at another, related, issue. The whole reason we’re talking about this at all is because Oakland is riddled with abandoned, or at least underutilized, industrial buildings. This is depressing for Oakland, but good for one segment of our population. The exodus of industry from Oakland has left us with plenty of spaces where artists and craftspeople can find affordable rents, ample room to work, and three-phase power.
Many (most) of these buildings don’t meet current building codes. Many are in areas the City has designated solely as industrial. Some currently posses what is called “legal non-conforming” status. Others are simply illegal. Next week, the Community and Economic Development Committee will consider a zoning code that will strictly limit live/work uses and cement use restrictions for industrial areas.
For the artists and craftspeople who live and work in currently illegal spaces, planning staff’s reassurances that they don’t have the money to enforce the zoning code should be cold comfort. One resident is now attempting to convince the City Council to add language to the code next week that will protect the artists and craftspeople currently living in illegal spaces from displacement. He spoke to this concern when the Council considered the industrial land-use policy:
(A transcript of both videos is available here (PDF!).)
You’d think that Nancy Nadel, of all people, would jump at the chance to help protect struggling artists from greedy and unscrupulous landlords, but no. Her response? Move.
Seriously. She says that they should just move. Apparently, there’s plenty of empty warehouses in areas zoned HBX, too.
Then, and this made my jaw drop (although I really should be used to this type of condescension by now), she tells him that if someone is living in a building that does not conform to zoning, it’s their fault. Apparently, we need to all be taking responsibility to find out how the zoning code applies to the spaces we rent. I wonder how many of my readers made that little trip to City Hall before signing a lease. (This attitude is particularly ironic, given that Nadel’s own home is currently in violation of city codes.)
I have been trying to tell people for two years that Nancy Nadel wants to kick the artists out of West Oakland and nobody would believe me. Well, now you have it on video. I told you so.