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OAKLAND — In Tigrinya, the language of Hager Seven Asefaha’s native Eritrea, “Alena” literally means, “We are here.”, It was with this sense of place and purpose that Asefaha founded the Alena ballet pointe shoes amazon Museum in 2015 inside a West Oakland warehouse he was renting — largely in response to the booming real estate market that was raising rents, and continues to do so, throughout the city, forcing scores of artists, and in particular, artists of color, to leave Oakland, But, the nonprofit museum’s mission is already being tested as it faces an eviction battle of its own..
The museum was supposed to be a refuge for African diaspora artists of many disciplines, who were already unmoored from their cultural roots, to cultivate their art and grow their businesses. It took on added significance in the face of the ballooning Oakland real estate market and became home to a rehearsal space for an Afro-Brazilian dance troop, art classes for kids, an art gallery and photography studio, among other uses. Other nonprofits also operate out of the warehouse, including The People’s Kitchen Collective, which fed hundreds of people last month during a large outdoor community event that was part celebration and part protest.
“The vision was to develop this nonprofit that would house the black diaspora in the middle of this cultural migration or exodus that was happening,” Asefaha said, “It was really to hold space for marginalized communities in Oakland as we saw the city change around us.”, But after five years of renting from Lynne Glassman, a retired San Francisco resident who ran a Mercedes wrecking and auto service business in West Oakland for ballet pointe shoes amazon 17 years, Glassman has chosen not to renew the lease, Asefaha contends he’s being unfairly blamed for a shooting that occurred outside the gallery earlier this year, while Glassman argues Asefaha never communicated his intentions of operating an art gallery and event space out of the warehouse..
Glassman pointed to the Ghost Ship fire, which ripped through a warehouse in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood in December 2016, killing 36 people at a dance party, and said he was concerned the space wasn’t being properly managed. There were rooftop parties he didn’t know about until after the fact, the shooting on Feb. 24 that wounded one man, and complaints from neighbors, he said. Asefaha denies the allegations. “(Asefaha) has accused me of being racist and that’s just far from the truth,” Glassman said. “I’m not at all bigoted. I wish him well. I just don’t want to have any extensions of his lease.”.
Glassman and Asefaha were renegotiating Asefaha’s five-year lease when the shooting occurred, they said, Asefaha had agreed to pay a $2,400 hike to his $3,600-per-month rent, Police at the time of the shooting told Glassman it was related to the party at the museum, Glassman said, But Asefaha said the shooting happened before his event even started, The complaints from neighbors began earlier this year, as well, Glassman said, though the city’s database does not show any record of them, And, Asefaha said he’s never thrown ballet pointe shoes amazon any rooftop parties..
Asefaha did apply for permits in 2015 and 2016 to operate an art gallery inside the warehouse and to use it for custom manufacturing to make art, both of which the city approved. But, Glassman said Asefaha never checked with him before doing so, and he wasn’t aware that was happening, though he had visited the warehouse on several occasions over the years. The permits didn’t require the landlord to sign off on them, Asefaha said. “I never saw any activity there,” Glassman said. “Whenever I saw him, I didn’t see anything I didn’t approve of.”.
The disagreement has gotten contentious, and a bit personal for Glassman, he said, so ballet pointe shoes amazon he’s ready to move past it, What that means for Asefaha and the Alena Museum is less clear, They’ve retained James Cook, an Oakland attorney, to fight the court order demanding they vacate the space, Since Asefaha lives there, along with two other housemates, Cook contends Glassman’s eviction order is inadequate, Glassman can’t simply kick out the Alena Museum as a business, he must evict each tenant individually and show just cause for doing so, per Oakland’s rental laws, Cook said..