With his deadline clock loudly ticking away, developer Bill Levy has initiated preliminary construction efforts at the lower State Street site where his proposed Ritz-Carlton time-share condos may someday be built. If Levy fails to begin construction in earnest by December 12, his building permits are dead and the project for which he fought for decades is history. Thus far, city officials are noncommittal on whether or not the work Levy plans to do in the next few weeks – dewatering the ground underneath the building site – is sufficient to meet the deadline. Meanwhile, Levy is the subject of a foreclosure action by Mountain Funding, which has given Levy until November 29 to pay off the $30 million it says he owes. Mountain Funding hopes to sell Levy’s project to one of three qualified builders, but no deal is likely as long as Levy remains in the picture.

Biltmore Hotel owner Ty Warner appealed to the County Board of supervisors for permission to adorn a stairway to Butterfly Beach, as well as the sidewalk next to the seawall, with brick that matches the Biltmore. The Montecito Planning Commission (MPC) had rejected the matching architectural details, saying they would give the area a private look that might discourage the public from using the beach. However, the supervisors unanimously approved the Biltmore’s appeal before a boardroom full of Montecitans who had come to praise Warner and to accuse the MPC of overregulation.

The battle for the dispossessed continued this week as UCSB activists renewed their efforts to help the former tenants of the Cedarwood Apartments in Isla Vista. After reaching 17 individual settlements and erecting a temporary shantytown to house students who sacrificed their homes to the Isla Vista families, lead advocate Vanessa Villasenor and others appeared at a City Council meeting Tuesday morning to ask the county for money to aid the families in relocating. So far, each family has been awarded $800, the equivalent of their security deposits, and more time to relocate, with a November 30 deadline.

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