The directive comes in the wake of the tragic Ghost Ship fire.
The East Bay Times reports, "Assistant Oakland police Chief David Downing issued the new order Friday requiring 'all personnel to report unlicensed cabarets and unpermitted special events' to the Special Event Unit within the department... Officers are being asked to report the time they observed the violation, the address of the event, contact information for any on-site managers, a description of what the officers saw, warnings given or enforcement action taken and a report or incident number."
The announcement comes a few months after the Ghost Ship blaze which killed 36 people in December. According to the paper, police had visited Ghost Ship and nearby properties three dozen times between 2014 and the fire, even breaking up a party after complaints of an "illegal rave" in 2015. The move places greater responsibility onto police officers to catch permit infractions, and signals an overall crackdown on unlicensed venues.
East Bay Times also quotes Jonah Strauss of the Oakland Warehouse coalition, a group that formed in the wake of the tragedy in order to advocate for warehouse improvement. "The order is a misguided attempt to crack down on illegal parties, but won’t keep people safe," he says. "It will only drive events further underground." Strauss says the city's special events permitting process is too "costly" and "cumbersome" for most underground venues.
In the days after the fire, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf allocated a $1.7 million dollar grant towards affordable venues and living spaces for artists.
Read an opinion piece about the importance of underground spaces written by RA's Andrew Ryce in the week following the Ghost Ship fire.