The Oakland Warehouse Fire and the Real Terrorism of Profiteering

Carol Denney
Monday December 05, 2016 - 10:07:00 PM

I feel for Mayor Libby Schaaf trying to navigate the symbolic center of the Oakland warehouse fire which has cost at least 36 lives. But the focus she claims is solely on the grieving families looks a little thin after years of an obvious focus, by developers and city planners, on profit -- at the expense of families and young lives. 

Thousands of families are swept out of housing by an inability to pay rents with no realistic ratio to working lives. Thousands are robbed of neighborhood and school connections by accidentally finding themselves an obstacle to new developments with no plans to include them. Thousands can't afford to raise habitability issues, even about heat and water, without courting legal or illegal eviction. 

Artists and musicians have these pressures plus an array of exotic issue; where can you practice the drums, rehearse the band, use a blowtorch or spray paint, dance, work out choreography, etc. 

If the Bay Area wants creative communities it has to plan for them. To plan for them it has to value something besides profit and skyrocketing property values, which, developers argue, would suffer if exacting community standards or rent control were imposed along the way. If the Bay Area wants to nurture the fire in its soul it has to care. Imagine if the arts were funded along the lines of Silicon Valley. Then ask yourself if a new video game is more important than poetry.