781 Embarcadero del Norte

Paul Wellman (file)

781 Embarcadero del Norte

Test of Tenants’ Rights

Mass Isla Vista Evictions Raise Flags and Feelings of Déjà Vu

Thursday, November 15, 2012
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Until recently, 24 Latino families lived in an Isla Vista apartment complex at 781 Embarcadero del Norte. Most have school-age children whose parents work at nearby UCSB or in I.V. Today, 16 of those families have been evicted, and four have received notice.

The sudden change — what a tenants advocacy group and an attorney say is a deliberate and unfair move to replace low-income residents with higher-rent payers — may trigger a county ordinance that forces landlords to provide relocation funds in such situations. It would be the first time the ordinance’s provisions were enacted. But new building management seems to be fighting the claim, asserting the ordinance designed to protect tenants doesn’t apply in this case.

The apartment complex changed hands on April 27, when it was bought by Platler Capital Management, based in San Clemente. Four days later, building manager Matt Platler raised the rent of all units — which start with a one-year lease, but then go month to month — by 10 percent. In June, massive remodeling on the property began, and eviction notices started arriving.

The construction, still ongoing, has bothered the many residents immensely. Israel Hernandez, who Platler said must move out by December 8, explained, “Every day, construction people walk in and out of the house. They went into my bedroom while my wife was sleeping. It’s not good.” Another woman, who declined to give her name, expressed concerns that her balcony screens had not been replaced for three months, and that it was unsafe for her 6-year-old child.

Renters, initially concerned by the construction, contacted the Isla Vista Tenants Union (IVTU), an organization funded by UCSB. When IVTU learned about the evictions, they informed the evicted tenants that they may be entitled to compensation under a 2010 amendment to County Ordinance 4444.

Hilary Kleger
Click to enlarge photo

Hilary Kleger

“The ordinance says that they are entitled to relocation assistance because the landlord did not provide alternate housing or offer to allow the tenants to move back in after the construction,” said Hilary Kleger, a community advisor with IVTU. According to Kleger, when IVTU contacted Platler to inform him that he owed money to the evicted tenants, his attorney replied that the ordinance isn’t applicable. No response came when IVTU protested.

However, two days after the correspondence, at least one tenant received an offer to rescind her eviction and received offers for alternative housing. The offer came too late, however, as the tenant was already due to vacate her apartment. Kleger claims that evicted tenants are owed $10,500 each.

For the 16 families who have already moved out, “It seems pretty clear that they are entitled to relocation assistance,” said Robin Unander, an attorney representing the tenants. Since the four families that have not yet vacated their homes have been offered alternative housing, they may not be eligible for compensation. Unander took issue with the fact that under the county ordinance “there are no controls on rent” for the alternative housing that is offered.

Platler is also the manager of a 28-unit apartment building at 203 Ladera Lane. Earlier this year, he and property owner Daniel Smith withdrew from participating in the federal Section 8 housing program and evicted 13 tenants. Platler was also overseeing the 6631 Picasso Road complex in Isla Vista when 10 families were evicted two years ago. According to Kleger, one of the families that was evicted from the Picasso property has been evicted again at the Embarcadero del Norte complex. Platler refused to comment for this story, and his attorney Brad Lundgren could not be reached.

Kleger is dismayed by what she sees as a growing trend of Los Angeles developers coming to Santa Barbara and engaging in practices that are “discriminatory” toward Latino and low-income tenants. “This is exactly the type of landlord/developer that we were concerned about when we were looking to amend Ordinance 4444.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

The article doesn't seem to differentiate between a lease and a month to month rental agreement. If these tenants were living in the apartment under a month to month rental agreement, then either party can terminate the agreement. In the tenants case the landlord is required to give a 60 day notice of termination. Following that the tenant must legally vacate the property. Were these tenants evicted because they had not vacated the property after termination of the agreement or was there a lease in place ??
The article seems somewhat biased to me. The author didn't do much to state the landlords point of view. It may be that this property NEEDED a major overhaul to be safe and habitable. It wouldn't be surprising if it did. Many of these I.V. rental properties were poorly built at the outset, were poorly maintained and are now 40+ years old.

mars (anonymous profile)
November 15, 2012 at 8:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It would be prudent for a new owner, not to incur the wrath of its tenants to pursue renovations a year after purchase. Waitting a year to renovate a property would allow the permits secured, contractors, supplies and tenant problems would be resolved. Contracts that are breached often can cause a never ending legal battle along with very poor advertising for the owner and/or management of said property.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
November 15, 2012 at 9:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Are you crazy Mars?
Obviously there is no point in representing the point of view of the landlord in a private property transaction.
Further, it is totally relevant that these families were latino as the only possible explanation for wanting to increase revenues must ALSO be racist.
We should outlaw the ability to increase the price of a private product!
Last I looked there are plenty of laws protecting renters but it is also incumbent on renters to know the law when they sign a lease or rental agreement...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
November 16, 2012 at 8:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Last I looked, there was a 2010 amendment to County Ordinance 4444. The ordinance says that they are entitled to relocation assistance because the landlord did not provide alternate housing or offer to allow the tenants to move back in after the construction. It also is incumbent on the property owners to know the law when they practice business in Santa Barbara County.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
November 19, 2012 at 7:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good point J_A. so you and I agree...
As reiteration, leave the dumbass racial component out of the article and focus on any statutes or laws that were violated.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
November 19, 2012 at 10:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@mars ... based on a VERY quick reading of Ordinance 4444, it appears lease vs month-to-month isn't relevant because the ordinance doesn't make a distinction:

What is interesting is Ordinance 4444 appears to specifically cover situations where eviction of tenants occurs because of repairs required due to code violations.

That seems to be an angle that needed coverage in the article.

p.s. The article says Platler refused to comment so any claim the article was biased against the landlord doesn't make sense.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
November 19, 2012 at 11:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The landlord and his attorney had no comment, probably because they are breaking the law by evicting poor families with too little notice in violation of ordinance 4444, and they don't want to further incriminate themselves. I am glad ordinance 4444 exists to keep carpet bagging developers from profiting off S.B. county resident's misery. Clearly, San Clemente resident Matt Platler is due a lump of coal in his stocking from Santa.

Rinconer (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2012 at 8:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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