State Steps In To Help These Oakland Artists Remove Illegal Diesel Generators

Updated: Sep 12, 2022 08:54
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Last week, the last of 9 diesel generators were removed from The Oakland Cannery, Oakland’s original artist live/work space. This puts an apparent end to 2-years of unhealthy living conditions for the artists living in the building. Owners and landlords of the building, Green Sage, was forced to remove their main power source from the building after numerous city citations and involvement from The State. At the end of August, a California judge ordered the removal of the generators.


Photo of the massive industrial generator which was parked parked at a Green Sage building near The Oakland Cannery.

As we have reported, the landlords of The Oakland Cannery (Green Sage) use the first floor for numerous small grow operations. Their building’s electrical infrastructure was not able to power the building properly. Therefore, Green Sage brought in diesel generators to help power the space. This was pitched as a temporary solution. However, what ended up happening was that Green Sage kept using them for the last 2+ years.

With police observing nearby, the generators rolled off the property. It was a moment that folks who lived in The Cannery weren’t sure would ever happen. Residents feel that this isn’t over until all generators like these are removed for good. 

Oakland Police watch as the diesel generators were removed from the property – photo from The Oakland Cannery

In a press release sent to us, Karina Gomez, Community Engagement Manager at Center for Environmental Health (CEH) said,CEH and Environmental Democracy Project (EDP), alongside residents from the Oakland Cannery Collective have been pushing for Green Sage to shut down their diesel generators. Green Sage has also received multiple orders to cease using the generators immediately, including a cease and desist letter from the Oakland Fire Department. However, the facility ignored the orders and continued with business as usual. Yesterday’s action from the State comes as celebratory news to the neighboring residents who have had no choice but to breathe the diesel exhaust fumes for the past two years.

No means No whichever way you want it, that’s what’s stated in The Federal Court system. Access denied, NO DIESEL OR GENERATORS allowed on our property! We are now, for the time being, cleared of diesel generators and hope for new landlords,” said resident Alistair Monroe.

This wasn’t a win that happened quickly for the residents of The Oakland Cannery. It was back in March that Oakland city officials sent a strongly worded letter to the owners of the building. Numerous city and state organizations stepped in trying to put a stop to it. Green Sage did not remove the generators and they continued to power the building 24-7. “We know that our landlords will not do anything. They’re going to turn their backs around and roll the dice,” Monroe said to KQED in March.

Large generator parked in a loading doc with other construction materials stacked haphazardly next to the building

The industrial generator’s previously hooked up to the first floor of The Oakland Cannery – generators were consuming nearly 2,000 gallons of fuel a day.

What the residents were able to accomplish doesn’t happen without a lot of work. Residents were consistent in asking city officials for environmental justice, contacted local media for coverage and eventually KQED picked up the story which seemingly helped put pressure on the city move towards corrective issues. For now, justice feels like it has been served a little. That being said, there are still other issues within East Oakland that state officials hope to also address.

“Environmental justice happens when everyone has the same protections from environmental health hazards and access to a healthy environment. Stopping the exposure to the toxic diesel exhaust from this one facility will be a critical first step to advance environmental justice for the residents of East Oakland, but work will remain to create systemic changes that prevent this from happening again,” said Gomez.

Overall, this is a huge win for the residents. However, it also isn’t the end of this ongoing story. Right now, there is no power going to their operation. Green Sage was powering over 100k feet of grow operations in the first floor of The Oakland Cannery. Undoubtedly, they will have to find a power source that will accommodate the facility or upgrade the current system to support their operation. Hopefully the next solution is one that isn’t a temporary bandaid and rather a long term solution that doesn’t impact artists living in the space.

To learn more about this issue, you can read out other two articles as we have been covering this story from the beginning.


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Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy has lived in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.