As the names of the confirmed dead continue to be released in what feels like an agonizing trickle, newly released records show that the city of Oakland was told multiple times that the Ghost Ship warehouse had been illegally converted to housing. ABC 7 reports that the full history of complaints against the building has been made public, and the documents paint a picture of a tragedy that certainly could have been averted.
"There are a ton of garbage piling up on the property on 1305 31st Ave. [sic throughout]," begins a complaint opened on November 13 that we first learned about on Saturday. "Also, a lot of items are left on the sidewalk near the property. Some of trash was hazardous."
If that had been all, the complaint would have read like many other similar complaints in a city that suffers from frequent illegal dumping. However, that was not all. "The yard became a trash collection site and the main building was remodel for residential. The change causes our neighborhood looks very bad and creates health issue." A second complaint was filed on November 14 noting an "Illegal interior building structure," and as we learned earlier an inspector appeared at the property on November 17 but was unable to gain access, leaving the investigation "pending."
As the documents show, these complaints were only the latest to be lodged against the property. The specific allegation of illegal residential construction went back to at least 2014 which follows on anecdotal reports that Ghost Ship/Satya Yuga founder Derick Almena began construction in earnest on the interior spaces about two or three years ago. In October of that year, the city received a complaint of "Constructing house/structure without permits" at the property. It is not clear what steps the city took in response to this, though the status is listed as "non-actionable."
These documents, ordered to be released by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, provide a glimpse into the troubled history of the now destroyed Ghost Ship warehouse. According to the East Bay Express, however, they may be all we get for some time. The paper reports that Oakland Fire Department and Planning staff have been ordered to not provide any further information about the blaze to the press.