by Rachel Swan
Add one more casualty to the list generated by Oakland's War on Fun: The Oakland Indie Artisan Craft Fair, which was supposed to take place on Saturday, December 10 in a large building at 474 24th Street. Spokesperson Elizabeth August said that after receiving a cease and desist letter from the city, organizers decided to cancel the event. Although the building tenants had obtained a conditional use permit for art production, events, and retail sales in a commercial space, they were informed on December 7 that it wasn't sufficient to cover an event on the scale of Indie Artisan Fair, which would have involved 25 local vendors.
According to the letter, organizers needed two additional permits, one for public assembly, and another for special events. Since the permitting process ultimately proved to be daunting, time-consuming and costly, they had no recourse but to cancel at the eleventh hour, August said. As she wrote in an e-mail: "...Authorities are under no stated obligation to see to it that the permits are issued in time for a rescheduled event. Personal experience has proven this to be true in the case of special events permits alone. I can only imagine what hoops have to be jumped through to get a public assembly permit."
August argued, further, that the city's stringent policies had caused 25 small indie vendors to lose a wellspring of potential income. She can only surmise that the cease-and-desist order — presented to the building owner in response to a flier handed out at First Friday Art Murmur — was based on assumptions about occupancy, or "some other code, yet unspecified." She deemed it counter-productive. "The City continues to get in it's own way," she wrote. "This time, it really went out of it's way to stop a craft fair from happening and it appears they had no absolute cause to do so."