Mother of Ghost Ship fire victim pens moving opinion piece


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This unnecessary tragedy has unfortunately done nothing to move the housing crisis issue in California forward. As of today we haven’t any elected person that has championed successfully a housing bill of rights that so desperately needs to be passed via Sacramento. The end result is homelessness and these types of domicile arrangements, Ghost Ship, BTW: aptly named, go unchecked in every corner of California.


It’s not my understanding that any of the dead from the Ghost Ship fire were homeless. It was mostly an art space, and they were attending a concert.


It was a “cool” and “edgy” temporary squat and also an illegal work/live sublet space for artists who couldn’t otherwise afford to live in the Bay Area. Either way, no-one should have been in that derelict firetrap except a city-mandated professional demolition crew. The same goes for any other abandoned building where people are found squatting on a regular basis.

The proprietors of the building should spend the rest of their lives in prison, and the judge who rejected their plea deals (based on one of them not accepting full responsibility and remorse) tends to agree – a jury trial is forthcoming. Meanwhile the building’s actual owner, who hasn’t been charged as far as I know, walked away with a $3-million insurance payout.


It will happen again, because if you have a drive to create art and perform music, you will find ways to do it that are within your means. It’s not just a housing crisis, it’s a general economic crisis for those near the bottom; if you want to pursue creative art while working full time at a shit job and paying off student loans you will seek out cheap free-form living situations like communal warehouse spaces. I only hope that others learn from the mistakes made at the Ghost Ship: clearly mark and unblock exits, be careful of shitty electrical work (especially if you’re hosting a music event that pulls a lot of juice), and don’t stack lots of flammable shit around randomly no matter how cool it looks. Ideally a government of the people/by the people/for the people would address this situation by helping foster spaces like Ghost Ship that are affordable and cool and safe, because that is what a lot of the people want.


“Officially” no one lived there full-time. In reality it appears that at least a few people had been living in converted loft spaces in the building. At least one of those residents died in the fire.


In the context of the Bay Area housing situation (and really that of any desirable large city) that operates within a “choose two of the above” constraint. I don’t know how much communal self-government by a bunch of young artists would change that, especially since there are often irresponsible and predatory (but oh-so-cool) rentiers like the Ghost Ship master tenant and event co-ordinator who jump into the mix along with the absentee owners. What I do know is what has to go if I have to choose only two characteristics.


I assume the “affordable and safe but not cool” option means living with your parents.


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