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"We are facing evictions weekly. The number of spaces out there that are untouched are decreasing," said
Dolan has been working with the
"It's kind of a race against time to come up with some resolution with landlords," he said.
In a report to the
Of the remaining 15, another three are listed as only hosting unpermitted events, not living spaces. Three more include retail stores with unsanctioned bedrooms but are not warehouses in the traditional sense. In at least one building, the landlord has given tenants 90 days to move out, despite it being listed as "working with" the city to prevent evictions.
"We are working, and we want to work, positively and productively with these owners," Cappio said. "We want to make sure the buildings can rise to a level where the occupants will be safe and (the buildings) continue to be used."
But the process can be complicated and costly depending on the kinds of modifications needed, making a sale more palatable.
That's the case with
"I'm 76 years old, and I really don't feel like doing it," he said. "There's a lot of money there though for someone who does want to do it."
That put some of his tenants in a tenuous position.
"There's nothing out there like this," Rowe said. "I'll probably have to put all my stuff in storage and move in with my sister ... and that won't be good for either of us."
In Fruitvale, roughly a half-mile from the burned-out Ghost Ship building, tenants of an artist collective are in a similar situation. The owner of their building,
The next day, he sent a man to the property to ask the tenants to sign liability waivers and move out within two months, Sas said.
Sas moved in four years ago, and during that time, he said he never had any problems with Weber, who would occasionally conduct walk-throughs of the building or stop by to pick up rent. Despite the building's proximity to the Ghost Ship, Sas said that because it's a bit off the beaten path, he never thought it would draw the city's or his landlord's attention.
"We were so off the radar," he said. "I thought we were invisible, but we weren't."
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There's not much the city can do if a landlord wants to sell the building or change its use, Cappio said. Tenants can fight the orders, but
"It's very case specific," Lane said. "It depends on that particular building and what the landlord knew and how unsafe the building is, if at all. A lot of people are moving without talking to an attorney first, which is really unfortunate."
Selling a multi-unit building is not legal grounds for evicting tenants, she said. And tenants have the right to return to the building if the landlord needs them to vacate temporarily to make improvements to the building. Those who do have to move might be eligible for rental assistance.
At the same time, Cappio admits that landlords are in difficult positions. Although the city is taking a cooperative approach in working with landlords, it must address any safety hazards inspectors find.
A task force consisting of city staff and representatives from the community is working to amend zoning codes to make it easier for property owners to convert commercial buildings into legal living spaces without shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars in upgrades. Until that happens, though, Cappio said the city is stuck with the codes on the books.
"It's really weird to shift our energy from improving life safety and doing code-compliance work to trying to get through to landlords who just have their own impressions of what is going on," Keenan said. "We've been seeing landlords totally lawyer up, and all these spaces with supportive landlords, it's sort of flipped."
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