100-year-old Sac artist warehouse on verge of closing due to code violations

The Panama Art factory in Sacramento is on the verge of closing.

It was just over six months ago that 36 people were killed in Oakland’s Ghost Ship fire after an artist warehouse not up to code went up in flames.

The emotions of that incident are still fresh for many in California, which might be why an art space in Sacramento is gaining some increased attention.

On Monday, city officials alerted the tenants of the Panama Art Factory in Hollywood Park they must move out within the next 10 days due to several code violations in their 100-year-old building.

The violations in the building include an upstairs renovated without permits, unsafe electrical equipment and inadequate exits and potable water system. If the landlord doesn’t fix these things, the building will shut down for good.

“It’s a scramble, it’s an unfortunate scramble,” David Davis, the Panama Art Factory manager, said.

Roughly 28 artists, many of whom work on projects for the city, have their studios in the factory and now need to find a new place to work.

Davis said their hope is to make the renovations and re-open. He does, however, wish that the city would allow them to continue to work in the building as they make the updates.

“The news is we will update the building to what the city likes," Davis said. "We want to work with the city we’re not trying to skate through this or anything like that. We just want a realistic timeline.”

Sacramento’s code enforcement said they first contacted the art space in February after getting an anonymous tip. It wasn’t until May that they were allowed in for an inspection.

Waylon Horner, an artist who works there, said that while he doesn’t drink the water in the building, he feels safe.

“I’ve never felt unsafe, everything feels sturdy," Horner explained. "We got a fire department across the street.”

Not everyone on the premise feels the same.

Maria Vargas — the owner of Panama Pottery Sacramento, a business on the property of the warehouse — believes it’s most important to be keep the building up to code. 

“I know Oakland gets used and used and used and people are tired of hearing about it,” Vargas said. “But it was real and it was real because the landlord ignored all codes, all responsibilities. And these people had to die for it?”

Dave DeCamilla, the property landlord, said that the city has too much “hysteria” over this, but that he will ultimately comply.

“It’s part of the city’s cultural heritage,” DeCamilla said. “If people like me can’t keep an enterprise open. Then you know something there’s problems.”

Asked if he thinks the city is being too hard on him, he was quick to respond.

“I think so,” he said, “Come on.”

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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