Mass evictions don’t happen often, but when they do, they often result in tragedy for residents. There is a recent history of mass evictions occurring in Santa Barbara County, including a couple instances in Isla Vista where as many as 55 families were kicked out of their apartments because the owners wanted to remodel. That’s why the community stepped up to the plate and rallied around the residents — who had no real legal protections at the time — and that’s why, for the last year, a Rental Housing Roundtable has convened to discuss the issue and recommend changes to the county code to give tenants more legal rights.
The Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to move forward on potentially altering a county ordinance following many of the suggestions made by the roundtable, which includes groups such as PUEBLO, Campus Democrats, the League of Women Voters, SBCAN, and several others. Many of the solutions made sense to the board and should be relatively easy to implement and easier for residents to understand. Included in the recommended changes are as follows: that the landlord provide relocation assistance if tenancy is ended by a remodel, rezone, demotion, or condo conversion; amending the county code to include a provision that an immediate deposit refund be given to tenants who are part of a mass eviction; increasing the notice requirement from 60 to 90 days to give residents more time to relocate; providing bilingual forms to describe relocation payment steps; and more. County staff will be returning later this year with a draft ordinance incorporating recommendations made by the supervisors.