Oakland warehouse fire: Owner had been cited, records show

OAKLAND (KTVU) -- The owner of the Oakland Ghost Ship, the large warehouse in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, had been on the radar of city and county regulators for several concerns, records show.

The building owner has received at least three violations since 2005 for blight, according to city records obtained by 2 Investigates.

The most recent violation was issued on Nov. 13 after a complaint was submitted by a neighbor, but the city never fully investigated those claims.

Photos obtained by 2 Investigates that were submitted by that neighbor to the city three weeks before the deadly fire show trash, debris, and an apparently homemade structure on the property.

The complaint describes the property as piled with trash and "hazardous" debris. "The yard became a trash collection site and the main building was remodel for residential," according to the complaint.

Records show that an inspection was scheduled for Nov.17 but, according to the city planning department, the inspector was not able to gain access to the property for unknown reasons. A follow up inspection was never scheduled or completed according to Planning and Building Department notes.

An investigation was also opened after the neighbor's initial complaint to look into claims that someone was living on the property, which was only permitted as a warehouse not a residential property, according to city officials.

Yet another inspection was due by Nov. 21 in that case, but according to city records, that inspection was a never marked as complete.

Prior complaints at the property include blight complaints for trash, debris, oil containers, rats, and vehicles parked on a vacant lot, according to records uncovered by 2 Investigates.

The complaints have sparked new scrutiny in the wake of the fatal fire late Friday that left at least nine people dead and several others missing.

The interior of the building has been described as a labyrinth of little area where artists -- sculptors and painters -- work out of.

Al Garcia, an owner of a business across the street, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he feared the live-work space was a fire hazard because of the clutter outside.