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Pugh signs executive order on safety at artists’ spaces

Mayor Catherine Pugh issued an executive order Tuesday regarding artists’ space conforming with Baltimore’s fire and building codes.

Baltimore shuttered the Bell Foundry in December following a deadly fire at a similar venue in Oakland, California. At that time, Pugh formed the Safe Arts Space Task Force consisting of attorneys, developers and artists to make sure the spaces remain safe.

Here is the text of the mayor’s executive order:

EXECUTIVE ORDER
Safe Art Spaces
Securing the Safety of Non- Compliant Artists’ Spaces While Avoiding Displacement

WHEREAS, it is necessary to implement measures and establish procedures to ensure that the workspaces, property and other assets of Baltimore City artists are protected if located in buildings that are in the process of being brought into compliance with the City’s Building, Fire and Related Codes.

WHEREAS, it is the intent of this Order to avoid displacement of artists to the extent possible during the process of evaluating non-compliant buildings and during the process of rendering such buildings safe and compliant.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, CATHERINE E. PUGH, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF BALTIMORE, BY VIRTUE OF THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN ME BY THE CHARTER OF BALTIMORE CITY, DO HEREBY PROMULGATE THE FOLLOWING EXECUTIVE ORDER, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.

• In furtherance of the policy to provide safe spaces for artists to live and work, the Building Official and/or Fire Marshal may establish abatement and compliance plans between the City and the owners and tenants of existing buildings that do not otherwise comply with Building, Fire and Related Codes or other Code requirements, including noncompliant residential, workspace, or live/work uses. Abatement and compliance plans may only allow residents to remain in the building, if, in the judgment of the Building Official and/or Fire Marshal, after physical inspection and evaluation, the identified hazards or conditions do not represent an imminent threat to life or safety.

•  An abatement and compliance plan shall take into consideration, the following criteria and any other criteria necessary to protect the life and safety of any occupants and the general public:

— Displacement of any individuals residing or working in the property can only be avoided if remaining in the building poses no imminent threat to life or safety.
— In the event of temporary or permanent relocation, all known tenants and owners shall be provided with information on their rights and duties to comply with local and state laws regarding landlord and tenant relations.
— All Code violations shall be cured within the time prescribed by any violation notice issued for the property and/or the abatement and compliance plan. Priority for repair shall be based on the severity of violation’s impact on the safety of the structure. Violation notices shall control over abatement and compliance plans.

—  City Officials will work in the spirit of cooperation with property owners and tenants to correct code violations.

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