Oakland Artists Still Worried, Despite New Housing Protections

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Alistair Monroe poses at The Cannery, a live-work warehouse in Oakland. The building houses around 30 artists who have been under threat of eviction since a Colorado marijuana company purchased the property a few months ago. (Photo: Chloe Veltman/KQED)

Oakland's city council passed an ordinance this week that bars marijuana companies from getting permits to operate at a facility if they are evicting tenants to do so.

"There was broad support for this," says Kelley Kahn, the City of Oakland's policy director  for arts and development.

The measure was inspired in part by tenants in Oakland’s live-work warehouses. One example is The Cannery, an industrial building that’s home to around 30 artists.

A Colorado pot company, Green Sage, recently purchased the building and threatened the tenants with eviction.

Longtime Cannery resident Alistair Monroe welcomes the city’s support.


"It is a step in the right direction to be heard," Monroe says.

But Monroe says the new law doesn’t prevent Green Sage from selling the building to a partner company. That company could then potentially use state law (e.g. the Ellis Act) to get residents out.

"So we’re not fully protected," Monroe says.

Kahn says although the city cannot prevent a landlord from using the Ellis Act to evict tenants, the amendments to the city’s cannabis ordinance have been put in place to make doing so an unappealing commercial prospect.

"If another operation bought a building, they would not be able to pull a cannabis permit for a space that has live-work residents," Kahn says. "What we've done is taken away the economic incentive to do that."

Monroe says he hopes to know more about The Cannery’s fate within the next two weeks.