The Morning Report
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A popular art space in Barrio Logan is kicking out its resident artists at the end of the month.
San Diego fire marshal inspectors and city code enforcement last year found safety problems and code violations at The Glashaus, which houses several art studios and a gallery. City and fire officials told Matt Devine, the artist who holds the master lease at Glashaus, that the venue could no longer host public events due to fire safety concerns. La Bodega Gallery in Barrio Logan was also told it had to cap its capacity until it made required safety upgrades.
The crackdown came just weeks after the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland that killed 36 people, some of them artists who lived or worked in the space. Art venues housed in warehouses and other unconventional spaces in cities across the country saw similar crackdowns after the deadly fire.
Devine told me at the time that he just had to make a few fixes to get the place back up and running.
“There are a couple things fire officials requested that we do, so we’re just trying to be as code compliant and fire safe as we can,” he said.
Now, though, public records show that the case has been moved from the city’s code enforcement division to the city attorney’s office, which signals that not all the required improvements have been made and that the city could take legal action after it conducts an investigation.
Gerry Braun, the city attorney’s chief of staff, said the case is under investigation and details aren’t yet public. But he said that the city attorney code enforcement unit’s goal is to bring property owners into compliance.
“We have a vested interest in keeping as much rental property on the market as possible so our strategy is always to work with the property owner to get rental property up to code,” he said.
Braun also said his office has been receiving emails from arts supporters accusing it of serving The Glashaus’ artists with eviction notices. He said the office has yet to act on the case and that the city doesn’t have the ability to evict tenants.
The resident artists’ lease termination notices likely came from Devine. Both Devine and Mitchell Investments, the firm that owns the property, declined to comment.
The Glashaus is a cornerstone of the quickly growing arts district in Barrio Logan. The venue helped pave the way for the artistic renaissance of the neighborhood, which was recently recognized by the state as a cultural district.
But the building is zoned for manufacturing and industrial uses. Devine started building art studios, which eventually turned into two stories in one section inside the building, more than five years ago. And as the warehouse grew into an arts venue, neither Devine nor the property owner pulled all the needed permits or built things like fire exit doors, sprinklers and additional parking spaces needed to bring the new construction into compliance with city codes.
Fire Departments visits and fire safety checks, though, have occurred regularly for years, according to past and present Glashaus artist tenants I’ve talked to, and public records show a citizen complaint was filed with the city’s code enforcement division as early as January 2015. It’s not clear why the fire marshal and the city’s code enforcement division took until the end of 2016 to crack down on the venue.
The Fire Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Ché Café Safe for Now, a New Neighborhood Storytelling Project and Other Arts and Culture News
• The future of UC San Diego’s Ché Café has been tenuous, but good news came for the scrappy, renowned music venue when its leaders announced they’d signed a solid new lease. (SoundDiego)
• The San Diego Opera, Fort Worth Opera and other organizations have teamed up to commission “The Last Dream of Frida & Diego,” a Spanish-language opera based on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s love story. (Union-Tribune)
• San Diego artists Debby and Larry Kline will be the first artists-in-residence at the San Diego Natural History Museum.
• Literary education nonprofit So Say We All and public transportation and sustainability nonprofit Circulate San Diego have joined forces for a new neighborhood storytelling project.
• Friends of San Diego artist and photographer Maha Bazzari Comianos are raising money to help rebuild her studio and business after last week’s water main break in Little Italy caused damage to several small businesses and art studios.
• A man claimed on Twitter that he was booted from the Wonderspaces pop-up exhibition in Mission Valley for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. Wonderspaces said it didn’t happen.
• The NTC Foundation, which oversees a big chunk of the Arts District Liberty Station, is looking for artists to create new public art for the district.
• A small dance festival is happening in City Heights this week.
• The Marston House in Balboa Park is reopening after undergoing renovations.
• The San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge is one step closer to being artistically lit.
• The nonprofit San Diego Visual Arts Network announced this year’s emerging artists for the annual San Diego Art Prize. They also revealed the winner of this year’s public choice award.
• The annual Hillcrest CityFest event is Sunday. (CityBeat)
• El Cajon leaders are still working on a deal with Live Nation to operate and manage the East County Performing Arts Center. An announcement was expected this month, but the city manager there says officials need more time for negotiations.
• San Diego Dance Theater has a new executive director. (Union-Tribune)
• Architectural Digest says our city “could be America’s next architectural beacon.”
• CityBeat’s Seth Combs says most of the work in an art exhibition at the San Diego Art Institute focusing on the evolution of queer aesthetics is worth exploring.
• The Maritime Museum of San Diego scored a $200,000 federal grant. (Times of San Diego)
• The San Diego Union-Tribune has put together its inaugural San Diego Festival of Books. It’s happening Aug. 26 at Liberty Station.
• Speaking of events at Liberty Station, ArtWalk @ Liberty Station is this weekend.
• Carlsbad is about to get a new mural.
• Y’all have heard of the selfie-gone-wrong that caused over $200,000 of damages at a pop-up art exhibition in Las Angeles, right? CityBeat asks a few folks if selfie culture is ruining the local gallery scene.
• Learn more about the Friends of Balboa Park. (San Diego Downtown News)
Beer, Booze, Weed and Food News
• A new 10,000-square-foot dim sum restaurant has opened in the Mira Mesa Shopping Center. (Eater San Diego)
• Intergalactic Brewing Co. is looking to sell. The brewery’s owner says the Miramar craft beer market has become oversaturated and a lack of startup capital is making it hard to make ends meet. (CityBeat)
• If you like ceviche, this annual competition is for you.
• Benchmark Brewing’s Oatmeal Stout must be good. (Union-Tribune)
• A few downtown restaurants revealed their secret off-menu options. (San Diego Downtown News)
• Y’all can get Frito pie at a new trailer park-themed restaurant downtown. (Eater San Diego)
• Careful while driving with growlers of beer, folks. (Reader)