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Nancy Skinner

State lawmakers grapple with fatal Ghost Ship fire

California state lawmakers said they are grappling with a growing public safety problem in cities where financially struggling artists are illegally converting warehouses into housing and entertainment venues.

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee meeting Wednesday in Sacramento was the first time state lawmakers have formally considered the issue since the Dec. 2 fire at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse killed 36 in Oakland during a music concert.

Artists say high rents in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California have driven them to lease warehouses in industrial areas not zoned for residential and entertainment uses. The Ghost Ship warehouse was not...