Burnt Ramen Pushes Back Against City of Richmond


There have been some ragers at Burnt Ramen, the storied punk/hardcore underground venue located in Richmond's Iron Triangle. But last night, the rager was brought to Richmond's city council meeting.

Dozens of supporters of the DIY music hall told the city's leaders they want help making Burnt Ramen and similar arts spaces safe. They don't want the city simply shutting them down.

Last Friday, Burnt Ramen was red-tagged by city inspectors who say the building is unsafe for habitation and events. But Burnt Ramen's many supporters feel the city is wrong to label the building dangerous. They claim that the Richmond warehouse is nothing like Oakland's Ghost Ship, which burned on December 2 in a fire that killed 36 people.

Last night, chanting "no more evictions," dozens of people marched to Richmond City Hall to address the council.

One speaker, Jennifer Autry, read a letter from the owner of the Burnt Ramen warehouse, Michael Malin. "Mayor Butt has made me homeless... as the mayor sleeps in his mansion I sleep in my van," she recited.

Shortly after the Oakland warehouse fire, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt outed Burnt Ramen in an essay posted on the Richmond Standard's website, calling it "our own Ghost Ship." He even published the warehouse's address. Butt told the Express this week that his goal is to "make sure the building is safe and code-conforming," not to shut it down.

But Burnt Ramen's many supporters say the city's red tagging feels more like an attack — not help.

"You seem to be embracing this pro-gentrification agenda," Kelly Jewitt told the mayor and council last night. "Don't sell us out to gentrification."

"My friends died in that fire," said another speaker, who asked to be identified by their first name, Morgan. "You cannot evict people in the name of my friends who died."

Jason Storm told the city's leaders that Burnt Ramen has made Richmond a safer place because it provides young people with refuge and a place to play music. "Burnt Ramen saved my life," he said.

In response to the outpouring of support for Burnt Ramen, Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay said the city intends to work "expeditiously and responsibly" to help Malin bring the warehouse up to code so that it can be reoccupied.

But some are skeptical of Richmond's intentions. John the Baker, who has been involved in Burnt Ramen since it's early days, said the city's red tagging feels like a "war on the arts."