I’ve been reading with mounting horror the terrible death toll in the Oakland, Calif., warehouse/art colony fire — 36 souls lost. There but for the grace of God and some undeserved luck goes Hilton Head Island and its dangerous, arguably illegal, condominium lockout suites.
Former residents described the warehouse as a “... cluttered death trap with few exits, piles of wood, and a mess of snaking electric cords.” The cords are now being cited as the possible cause of the fire. A city inspector tried to inspect but was unable to get inside, and there’s no record of the place ever actually being inspected. Numerous citizen complaints were submitted but never decisively acted upon, lost in technicalities and bureaucratic buck-passing.
The rents charged were supposedly “reasonable,” but Oakland’s dead victims will never pay rent again.
Sound familiar? It should.
This hellhole was certainly larger and more egregiously dangerous than a typical Hilton Head lockout suite, but the lockouts here have had similar problems, including at least one fire originating from an electric cord, and other electrical malfunctions.
The town and its staff should learn from Oakland, come to their senses, and get safety code enforcement practices for condo lockout suites on a solid footing rather than fooling around with their colonial adventures on Bay Point Island.
Unlike Oakland, we still have time to prevent a tragedy.
Henry V. Sanders
Hilton Head Island