The Lighthouse sober-living house on Haley Street will be shut down in the next 40-60 days in the wake of owner Steve Hartman’s death last week after going into a drug-related coma. Lighthouse landlord Dario Pini stressed that none of the 11-12 remaining residents at the Haley Street facility would become homeless. Pini said some of the residents would be transferred to a Lighthouse sober living facility on Spring Street, and others would find new accommodations in private homes. Pini denied reports that surfaced after Hartman’s death that he was evicting any of Hartman’s tenants. Pini said Hartman — who had a long history of addiction issues of his own — was a former tenant and that together they started operating sober living homes about 15 years ago. “There’re a lot of people in jail who aren’t getting the help they should be getting,” Pini said. “They need other treatment.” Pini came to this conclusion, he said, after spending time behind bars himself after being found guilty of rampant building code violations in his rental units. (Pini is currently the subject of a similar lawsuit filed by City Attorney Steve Wiley.)
For the time being, management of the Lighthouse will remain with Allen Obiolx, who worked with Hartman off and on for nine years. Obiolx credited Hartman for helping him on the road to recovery and providing a halfway house where kids could visit with fathers then unable to provide for them. “We could create a bond with our children,” he said. In recent years, the County Probation Department and the Casa Esperanza homeless shelter have stopped referring clients to the Lighthouse. As Obiolx explained, Hartman had an on-again, off-again relationship with drugs and an on-again, off-again approach to managing. Because of Hartman’s arrest in Ventura County on drug charges several years ago, Obiolx said Santa Barbara authorities had reservations about Lighthouse operations. Obiolx said he’ll be requiring residents to undergo urine tests on a weekly basis. While the exact cause of Hartman’s death is not clear, it appears he died of a drug-induced heart attack while residing in his Spring Street sober-living facility.