Oakland Fire: 36 People Died Thanks To The Fun Police
My heart goes out to the people who lost loved ones because of this senseless fire. A tragic result that, (in my view) could have been avoided with the strike of a pen. Everyone who opposed fair and reasonable drinking/party laws allowing last call past 2 am, has blood on their hands.
Allow me to explain.
In 2013, a bill (SB 635) was put to vote in the California senate that would have extended drinking hours to 4 am from 2 am (actually 1:30). This bill would have made shady, decrepit “after-hours” party spots that have become an open secret, like the “death warehouse” in Oakland, a thing of irrelevance.
The bill was opposed vigorously by predictable corners of the establishment, including the California Police Chiefs Association, random non-profits like the “Las Memorias Project” and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The bill lost 6-to-4.
In California, particularly the Bay Area, there are these secretive places in various locations where people go after bars and clubs close. I’ve been to one of these places in Oakland and another one in SF, and they looked about as legit as an official DNC fundraiser for Bernie Sanders. In these places neither smoking nor drinking laws (or drugs for that matter) were observed. I saw stuff you could never get away with in a legit bar or club going down. When people risk their personal safety just to be able to have a good time, we need to change our laws.
If we learned anything from the 1930’s, it’s that prohibition/restriction doesn’t stop anything, just drives it underground and into the hands of shady operators within our society. Dozens of people died in a place with no fire exits, a single rickety flight of stairs and little to no oversight. To avoid the insufferable loss and tragedy of events like what took place that fateful day on 1305 31st Avenue, we should stop criminalizing fun in California.