A year after the Ghost Ship fire, people are still living in unlawfully converted artist warehouses throughout Oakland, and city officials have yet to fully correct deficiencies in their inspection programs to prevent another disaster.
The city still has a backlog of roughly 1,000 commercial properties it has not inspected as required by state law. And 21 of 32 buildings brought to the city’s attention after Ghost Ship for possibly holding unauthorized events or residents remain out of compliance with building and fire codes. Some are used as dwellings. The city acknowledges it probably does not have a full tally on illegally converted buildings or the hazards they may hold.
City officials have defended their response to shortcomings that drew scrutiny after the fire, saying they have taken steps to make Oakland safer than it was a year ago. They point to an array of new policies, better technology systems to improve communications and the recent hiring of inspectors. And they say the fire that killed 36 people on Dec. 2, 2016, was a unique event at an outlier warehouse, and the dangers in Oakland are no worse than those anywhere else.