Monday, December 12, 2016

The Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire in Oakland was a Ticking Bomb



Chor Nar Siu Ng bought the warehouse known as the Ghost Ship in 1988. She owns several other properties in the Bay Area. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times


                                   Photo: David Butow/Special To The Chronicle

Back in the 70’s in San Jose, I use to go to this converted warehouse to dance and party. It was called studio 47. I’ve never been to a place like the Ghost Ship Warehouse in Oakland. I don’t think, I would have gone to a place that was so cluttered with junk. All that stuff would have gotten on my nerves. Yuck!

Photos before the fire show a one-of-a-kind an elaborate, eclectic exhibit of carvings, mannequins, paintings, second-hand furniture and tapestries. (

On December 2, 2016, the Ghost Ship Warehouse in Oakland caught on fire with about 50 people inside, killing 36 and injuring others. From the pictures of the place before it caught fire, it was filled with stuff everywhere. It had illegal artist studios and dwellings. It was a ticking time bomb. It was a place that looked like if a fire broke out it would go up in flames, like a piece of paper. Regrettably it did. Most of the people who died were on the second floor. To get to the second floor you had to climb these make shift stairs, made from wood pallets. I’m not being insensitive but common sense would tell you that is not safe and to stay on the first floor. People probably have been going to places like this for years and nothing like this has happened until now. The owner should be a shame of himself and anyone who worked for him. I hope he gets prosecuted to the fullest magnitude of the law. They knew this place was not safe. There were numerous complaints to management about the conditions. This was a case of pure greed. The City of Oakland should be a shamed as well. There were a number complaints going back for years about the Ghost Ship Warehouse being unsafe. Yes, the City of Oakland dropped the ball on this one and it cost 36 lives. If you know someone or you plan on going to these unsafe warehouses, make sure you know your exit plan when you step through the door.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pescadero One of California’s Last Frontiers has been invaded by Silicon Valley Billionaires


The Stars and Stripes flies above the rooflines of Pescadero, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Growing up in San Jose California, I have seen a lot of change over the years. I remember my parents taking my siblings and me on day trips to places like Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, San Francisco and Pescadero. My dad had an aunt who lived in Pescadero on a small farm with horses, pigs, chickens and a couple of cows. I loved going there because we got to ride the horses. There was nothing like playing hard and eating the delicious food. Pescadero was like stepping back in time, back then.

Pescadero has remained a little part of nostalgia for years. Say it’s not so.  Pescadero one of California’s last frontiers has been invaded by Silicon Valley Billionaires. Locals say there are some problems to the invasion of tourists and outsiders, some of the Moneybags are committed to maintaining the agricultural character of the place. Where goat cheese-makers, artisans, intellectuals, farmers, ranchers and other rugged individualists exist in rustic harmony. Are they really?

I don’t think so. Tom Steyer retired hedge fund manager and ecological activist and his wife, entrepreneur and contributor Kat Taylor, own a 1,800-acre grass-fed cattle ranch in Pescadero. They consider it a learning laboratory for sustainable animal agriculture. Steyer said, “It is kind of magic, I think, the idea that there would be that much open space, that much wild space, that close to Silicon Valley and San Francisco,”.  “It’s pretty incredible. So we feel a lot of responsibility to make it available to as many people as possible.”

Okay, that’s all good but what about the middle class and the farmers in the area. Are they going to be push out to make way for other CEO’s? One of Google’s top executives is said to have a 1,500-acre ranch in Pescadero, where he has partnered with Pie Ranch. Where he sources food for the Mountain View campus from the sustainable Pescadero farm. What about Signe Ostby, the wife of Intuit co-founder Scott Cook? She breeds horses on her 2,220 acre ranch. Why didn’t she respond to the interview requests? What does she have to hide? Venture capitalist John Doerr owns nearly 1,400 acres. This is another community where gentrification will push out non wealthy people and families. The end of an era. In 5 years you probably won’t recognize the town of Pescadero and the rents will be out of this world.