Santa Barbara tenants who lose their digs due to demolition or condo conversion could soon be eligible for up to three months of free rent or $4,000, courtesy of their landlords, if a proposed ordinance wending its way through the City Council’s Ordinance Committee is approved by the whole council. The Ordinance Committee rejected arguments from the Santa Barbara Rental Property Owners, which urged a less generous allowance and exemptions for demolitions involving fewer than five units. (If the ordinance with the five-unit exemption had been in effect, the measure would have provided protection in only three of the 96 teardowns and conversions of the past five years.) Councilmember Grant House sought to include conversions of modest apartments to luxury apartments in the measure, but failed to convince Councilmembers Brian Barnwell and Iya Falcone.

In a major legal victory for the more than 500 trailer dwellers in Goleta, U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper upheld Goleta’s mobile home rent control ordinance. Rancho Mobile Home Park owner Daniel Guggenheim sued Goleta in 2002, claiming that park residents – who own the trailers but rent the land they sit on – fetch high prices for trailers located in rent-controlled parks, thereby taking profits that are rightfully his. Judge Cooper sided with Guggenheim in 2004, but reversed her ruling last week in light of two recent Supreme Court decisions – Lingle v. Chevron and Cashman v. Cotati – that rendered the city’s ordinance a legitimate land-use regulation, according to Goleta attorney Bruce Gridley.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to sign a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger urging him to sign a bill that would require landlords to give 60 days’ notice before evicting tenants. The current standard is 30 days. Supervisors made the promise in response to UCSB students and other advocates for the working-class families evicted from Isla Vista’s Cedarwood Apartments to make room for students.

County mental health caseworkers will be dispatched to the Hotel de Riviera, which houses homeless people suffering from mental health and addiction problems. Hotel operators have complained the county was not living up to its agreement to send caseworkers to the facility 20 hours a week. County Mental Health czar James Broderick noted that mental health workers have been stretched thin of late.

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