Dario Pini (June 26, 2012)

Paul Wellman (file)

Dario Pini (June 26, 2012)

$14,000 Fine Revoked for Landlord Dario Pini

Originally Docked for Turning Crawl Space into Rental Units

Wednesday, January 2, 2013
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A Santa Barbara hearing officer revoked the $14,000 fine imposed on landlord Dario Pini for converting the “crawl space” under Pini’s property at 1105 East Gutierrez Street into two rental units, as well as several other allegedly chronic zoning violations. According to the revocation ruling, issued by hearing officer Kristy Schmidt, Pini had redressed the crawl-space violations within 13 days of being out on notice on July 13. The July 13 notice gave Pini 15 days to correct the problem.

According to City Attorney Steve Wiley, Pini, who owns more than 100 rental properties on the South Coast, has been a chronic enforcement problem since the 1990s. For that reason, City Hall imposed the maximum allowable fine — $250 a day per violation — on Pini. On that point, Schmidt, who normally works as a labor negotiator in the City Administrator’s Office, took issue. Whatever prior enforcement issues existed at the East Gutierrez Street property, she found, predated the current dispute by nearly two years. Under city code, she stated, the maximum penalty can be imposed only if the prior problem occurred within the previous 12 months.

Last month, Wiley filed a massive 64-count lawsuit against Pini, charging that the landlord has allowed slum-like conditions to proliferate at 27 of his properties to the detriment of Pini’s many tenants and to their neighbors as well. In that action, Wiley included the violations city inspectors found at 1105 East Gutierrez. In addition to the “crawl-space” apartments, city inspectors found the garage had been converted into an illegal rental, that an RV and trailer parked in the driveway had been converted to rental housing, and that the yard was cluttered with an over-abundance of trash and debris. (The crawl-space rentals in question had ceiling heights of six to seven feet.)

Wiley put Pini in jail on similar charges in the early 1990s and has had ongoing enforcement issues with him ever since. It remains to be seen what legal significance the revocation might have on the broader civil action Wiley filed against Pini last month. “It seems to me a pretty clear case of double jeopardy,” said Pini’s attorney Larry Powell. “You don’t get two bites at the apple.” Wiley said Schmidt’s decision should have no impact on City Hall’s more ambitious civil action against Pini. “Dario’s violations are a continuum of improper and nonexistent maintenance such that most of his properties are in violation of Uniform Housing Code,” he stated. As to the repairs Pini made, Wiley was openly skeptical. “Many of Dario’s ‘corrections’ have a way of not lasting very long.”

Wiley is seeking a court order to compel Pini to bring his units into compliance. He’s also seeking fines of $16,400 for all the alleged violations combined for each day they’ve occurred. Beyond that, Wiley is demanding a court order to put Pini’s substantial real estate empire into a receivership should he fail to clean up his act. For the time being, Powell expressed satisfaction that Schmidt revoked the sizable fine City Hall sought to impose. Given that Schmidt, a high-ranking City Hall employee, works closely with Wiley, Powell said he had his doubts. “It’s kind of like getting a traffic ticket,” he said, “and having a cop decide whether you’re guilty.”

The original posting of this article incorrectly stated that the fine had been imposed by City Attorney Steve Wiley. Hearing Officer Kristy Schmidt responded to that error: The article “$14,000 Fine Revoked for Landlord Dario Pini” contains some apparent inaccuracies that I want to correct. As a hearing administrator, I don’t overturn Steve Wiley on anything. Administrative citations and fines related to enforcement cases, such as the one you reference, are imposed by city staff in the Community Development Department, not by the City Attorney. There is a regular appeal procedure whereby a hearing administrator, frequently a manager from another city department, will review staff’s imposition of an administrative fine. As just one of a panel of staff hearing administrators, I am selected randomly to review a handful of appeals every year.

The decision that I rendered in this case was limited to facts presented by staff and Mr. Pini in an appeal hearing limited to one specific citation on one specific property. I am not familiar with, nor did I consider in rendering the decision, anything related to other enforcement cases against Mr. Pini, nor related to a more comprehensive lawsuit filed by the City Attorney”s Office. I think it is important to clarify the very limited scope of this particular appeal decision as compared to any larger action against Mr. Pini. - Kristy Schmidt, employee relations manager, City Administrator’s Office, S.B.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Is this a case of supply and demand where Pini is meeting the demand of desperate people who will settle for anything in terms of housing?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 2:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

billclausen: Yep - anything they can afford. I've had several employed SB residents ask if they can live in a tent in my back yard or in their car or RV in my driveway since they can't afford SB rental prices.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 8:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So, I can rent the crawl space under my house, collect bucks, and not even get a slap on the hand?

grinnin (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 11:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Indeed. And why are prices so high?
"We haven't put the toilet in yet but there's a lovely view"
"The doors don't lock but there's a lovely mirror in the hall."
From "good" landlords mind ya.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 11:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Who gets the first bite of the apple? Those who live here expecting zoning ordinances to be enforced, or those who demand to live here and break the rules to do so?

Desperation has no voice in the market place. Not when 17% of city housing units are already subsidized by taxpayers.

The rents in Santa Barbara are affordable to anyone who chooses to afford them. There is no global edict requiring landlords to subsidize everyone who wants to live in Santa Barbara on their terms simply because they demand this. That is regressive.

Find where you can afford to live and take the bus; just like millions of other commuters do everywhere else on this planet.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 11:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I care less about zoning ordinances than I do a safe modern electrical system in the house that doesn't destroy my equipment.
Ironically, as SB real estate prices climb- SB itself has less and less to offer.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 12:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There is no requirement SB needs to offer anything other than market rents, except for the misguided city policies that have now converted 17% of its total housing stock into some form of public housing.

17% now living permanently on city handouts is enough to skew this town permanently as solid Democrat voting block. Dario Pini is just one more manifestation of the malaise still coming out of city hall.

Hard to believe Wiley even bothered, or maybe he botched it purposely to make it look like he was actually earning his paycheck, but in fact continuing the legal neglect of this town's ordinances.

It will only get worse ....until the Democrats finally run out of spending other people's money, eaten enough of the "rich" so that there is no money to support Democrat handouts, and fully trashed everyone's front and back yards.

There was a time when this was a viable city - now it is a company town, a Democratic Party company town, which has sickened it from within.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 1:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yet the majority of the wealthy are Democrats, how does that factor into your paradigm?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 2:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It figures quite easily - expiation for their own sins. And hoping to keep the wolves from their own gated communities.

And since each public pension employee (aka Democrats) gets to live and spend like "millionaires", one does need to consider why they have a vested interest in more spending and more taxation.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 2:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)


"Assuming we say that a "millionaire" means anyone with a NET WORTH of more than $1 million, about 9% of the total number of households in the US qualify, as of the 2011 tax year (the latest I could find complete data for).

Surveys of people asking about wealth and party affiliations show that the Republican party noteably outnumbers the Democratic party in that demographic.

For instance, for those reporting an annual income of $150,000 or more (which is a good estimate of $1 million or more net worth), Republicans outnumber Democrats by about 54% to 38% (the rest being Independents).


Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 2:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"So, I can rent the crawl space under my house, collect bucks, and not even get a slap on the hand?"

grinnin (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 11:16 a.m.

More than likely. I saw the blatantly illegal rentals going on in the R1-zoned Mission Canyon neighborhood where I used to live and nothing was done about it. The place looked like Isla Vista but once again, the overcrowding caused by UCSB necessitated that the students needed a place to live.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 3:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This guy is a snake dipped in oil. Just looking at him makes me wanna retch.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 4:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oblati, except for the blathering on about Democrats (booooring), you make a good point about wealthy locals wanting to keep the huddled masses away from their estates. The massive inflow of cash from Montecito to SB nonprofits serves to ghettoize many areas of SB by creating a charity economy that draws and supports a huge population that can only afford to live in the subfloor area of my house. I would gladly suffer another assessment to my property taxes to pay for bulldozing the hill and extending Haley, Gutierrez, Cota, and Ortega over to Montecito.

banjo (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 8:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Democrats have run this town into the ground. They deserve getting the credit.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 9:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oblati, your namesake indicates you to be someone who has dedicated themselves to God's service. That is not what I read or come away with by your comments. You as many of your Republican cohorts (who claim to be Christians) are far less compassionate, caring or loving of your fellow humans on this earth. You take the 47% remark to a new level.

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2013 at 10:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

2 Thessalonians 10

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 10:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free; The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, Tempest -tossed
to me I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 11:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

LUKE 6:37
JAMES 2:13

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 11:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

That pack of huddled immigrants "yearning to breathe free" did darn well on their own with their own initiatives - before Roosevelt socialism created the mess we have now.

If you mock, Christianity, don't cherry pick it for your own agenda.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 11:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Adam and Eve created the mess we're in now.

hodgmo (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 12:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I didn't mock Christianity, just the people who hide behind it (they actually believe they can fool God) Oh I guess
2 Thessalonians 10 is not cherry picking ! You're the only one with an agenda, you used this story to get on your soapbox.

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 2:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow, I'd love to see an argument where one is required to use only bible verses and nothing else. Ex-site-ing.

If we want the cost of living in Santa Barbara to go down and the quality of housing to go up then we need to build more houses and apartments.

Do we need to build them on the cliffs above Ellwood? No. Do we need to convert existing agricultural space to residential? No. But we do need to build more housing if the goal is to decrease cost and increase quality of housing.

It seems like nobody around here wants more housing built except developers. If you're rich, you'd either rather pay the extra money and keep people out using city/county ordinances or buy up the land and develop it yourself. If you're poor you are either an environmentalist who doesn't want additional human impact in the area and to protect the precious coastline and/or you want the government to subsidize the housing market, which increases prices on housing for everybody else. The pressure to increase the cost of housing and decrease quality comes from all directions, namely increasing demand and lack of supply.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 2:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We don't need to build more housing in Santa Barbara. It is built out. Go someplace else.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 3:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

FDR's programs bailed us out of the Great Depression [yeah, W.W. II helped, too] but O moans how bad it was "before Roosevelt socialism"! You're from the mid-19th century Oblah-ti. And lacumbre beats you at your own game of cherry-picking the New Testament, just as you cherry pick 1930s US history. Read up on some facts, O.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 4:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Actually, it was WWII that ended the Great Depression. History now shows Roosevelt's programs prolonged the Depression. But the New Deal myth continues among those who need to justify spending other people's money.

You are forgiven. And mark my word, I am no fan of using wars for anything other than clear and direct self-defense.

Cherry-picking biblical references is not the issue; having an authentic belief system is. lacumbre mocks Christianity so I suggest he/she does not twist it for his/her own agenda. Unless of course lacumbre is now claiming to be a bona fide biblical literalist. That was not apparent.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 4:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And I forgive you O, if you'll only go someplace else, too!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 5:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Gee, if I recall correctly (but feel free to correct this), World War II essentially was a hugely gargantuan massive Federal Government Spending Program (complete with rampant deficit spending and borrowing) that simply magnified the merely Moderate spending programs of the Roosevelt New Deal era.

But we so look forward to an Oblatian revisionist history that if only tax and spending cuts occurred during the 1930s, the Great Depression would not have happened.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 5:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you DrDan

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 5:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Actually only Ann Coulter's fantasies believe the New Deal extended the Depression. FDR revisionists are about on par with Father Coughlin supporters.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 5:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Father Coughlin, the Irish radio-monger and Know-Nothing!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 8:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There are some geographic realities I think need to be realized by the commenters who have called for building more and better housing in SB. I agree it would sure be nice if we could build more . But hard cold reality is that this would be very problematic. Please open your eyes and look around you. Santa Barbara has a "bowl shaped" topography. We have very limited space with the ocean on one side and the high mountains on the other. We've already packed a lot more people into most areas than is wise. The problems with adding yet more density are so obvious and numerous I think we all can figure it out----already too few ways out in the case of emergencies, pollution from packing in too many cars in this "bowl shaped" topography where smoke,exhaust, etc. get easily trapped, and all the health and quality of life issues crowding brings.

MahalaJane (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 10:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If people can walk/skate/bike to work or take public transportation the pollution goes down across the board. It's all the tourists congesting the roads, not locals.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2013 at 10:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, John Adams, WWII was a massive government spending and borrowing program and it hired lots of people too. Yup, that is all that it was. It worked for WWII, so why not stay on this same path - tax, spend and borrow even when not in war time.

Some people were conned into thinking it was actually a reasonable defensive and necessary reaction by our government against being attacked on our shores by a foreign enemy.

But that was just cover for what it really was, right Adams? It was just a massive government tax and spend program that got us out of the Depression. And since it was good enough for real war, why not create phony wars like the War Against Poverty and see if we can tax, spend and borrow our way out of that. Today's War Against the Rich (aka the successful) is but a step-child of the same mentality, if it can be done let the government do it.

(The Great Depression over the hundreds of thousands of lives given in WWII in behalf of this "tax and spend government program" as you gleefully call it is another matter all together, but perhaps they did not teach you WWII history when you were in public school, Adams. All is forgiven)

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2013 at 8:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't think Pini was one of the Axis Powers or even very active as a landlord during The Great Depression.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2013 at 8:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oblati; just so I understand you correctly we, as a country, are in the mess we are in because of FDR, for one, but mostly because of the Democratic Party and their insatiable spending? What about George W. Bush and the GOP adding trillions to our debt as a result of starting two wars and putting them on credit cards. Shouldn't we blame Bush and the Republicans a little bit too? Evidently Bush's policy and reasoning made much more sense: "Cut taxes, spend and borrow."

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2013 at 9:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So I guess it's the Obama tax cuts Obama just lifted?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2013 at 9:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

War on the rich!? How 'bout war of the 1% against the rest of us, O., you keep looking down the wrong end of the telescope. And please, don't lecture John_Adams on History of WW II, since you know so little of it. AND, you criticize him for not learning it in "public school" -- but you want funds for public school cut, remember your ravings against Prop 30. Can't have it both ways, dear O.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 7:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Nope, lacumbre we are not on the same page at all. Go ahead, blame Bush and overlook it was the Democratic congress members who sent Bush the green light on Iraq, which was an irresponsible action on their part but grew out of the post-911 hysteria.

Too late to un-ring that bell, but blaming Bush this late in the game for what Congress allowed him to do denigrates your own role as a voter in this entire equation.

Sure Capps voted against this war powers grant, but she was in a safe seat and would suffer no political damage for her vote against her party's majority.

I think you need to read from a wider selection of resources. You can start with the NewsPress and/or the WSJ if you want to start growing your perspectives instead of being trapped in a hoary blame game. For what purpose, lacumbre? This is your world to inherit too.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 9:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

City staff want more housing built because more people spend more money and increase city sales taxes, which in turn funds more perks and benefits for them.

Never under-estimate who city staff, who make many of these pro-development recommendations, are really working for: themselves.

Be a watchdog and question everything they do.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 9:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dr Dan, you live in a nicely compartmentalized world with a ready supply of shallow and meaningless labels. No sense disturbing your current homeostasis.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 9:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Oblati; you want me to read from a wider selection of resources, well I don't think I need to since I read your comments and that pretty much tells all I need to know. I think you are the Father of hoary blame games, take for instance, and I quote "Roosevelt socialism created the mess we have now" Talk about being late in the game, Bush wasn't even born when that "mess" (which actually saved our country) was created.

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 10:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I fear we all live in an SB bubble, our own sort of homeostasis (good term), each in our own neatly compartmentalized world. Yep. O, reread lacumbre above to describe yours.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 1:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Roosevelt's mess did not "save our country". This is what I am talking about -- you need to move past progressive talking points, lacumbre. And you won't get it with a steady diet of the Independent.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 3:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Historical data is anyone's talking point who chooses to deal with facts and not ideology Oblati.
You seem to be gourging on the Indy lately O..

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 4:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's a fun start: What you label "Roosevelt's Mess" was actually Hoover's disaster more commonly known as the Great Depression, in which Hoover had about two-three years to do something about other than make it worse.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 4:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken, you make my head spin. You loved it when the employees trashed the NewsPress, yet you don't like the Independent taking a few well-earned hits?

My mistake, I thought this was an open and free forum with a tough skinned editorial department ...unlike the constant slurs about the management of our local daily that show up here, ad nausum.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 10:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oblati you suggest your own comment for removal because nowhere will you find I've stated that or really any position about the SB N-P at all.
I'm sure you would insist on such a retraction yourself. Your head is spinning because you're spinning tales.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 10:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

* You should suggest..

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2013 at 10:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Photo caption: "Aw hell...what WAS his's on the tip of my tongue..."

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2013 at 5:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ahh shucks KV, busted. I lumped you in with the rest of those here who evidence a clear case of Wendy McCaw Derangement Syndrome. Thank you for clearing your good name. And I shall drape black crepe around mine. Please world, retract those electrons in which I besmirched KV.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2013 at 4:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wendy Von Testeburger.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2013 at 4:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@Oblati - Interesting reading thru your comments. Mostly delusional, certainly self-serving. But also quite incorrect.

It's a pretty well known fact that most of the "approval from Congress" to go to war in Iraq (or Afghanistan) during the Bush admin was actually NOT approval. Which is what made it an illegal war from a technical standpoint.

There was a lot he didn't get permission from congress for. This was a truly huge part of that admin's legacy.

I'm all for opinion. But abject lying or just plain ignorance, I'm not a fan of. Particularly in the course of an argument in which you irrationally slam fellow Americans or try to pin onto them issues that you are completely wrong about.

Native1 (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2013 at 4:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Nativ1 - I never lie. Say what you want if you don't like what I write, but I never lie.

Everyone knows Bush side-stepped Congress and based his actions on a very loose interpretation of his powers as Commander in Chief, which was done with Congressional approval. Otherwise why all the teeth gnashing in 2008 over Hilary Clinton's "approval" of the war as senator. Obama played fast and loose with that one. Was Obama lying?

Obama's alleged protest against the war as a civilian, when he himself admitted he didn't know what he would have done had he actually been in power as an elected Congressional member and be required to vote in public on this ersatz delegation of powers to Bush and go against his Democrat party majority who was braying for war, or at least "revenge" - which Capps was willing, and quite safely able to reject.

Had Obama voted his usual "present" had he been in Congress, as he did so often when in the Illinois legislature, how would that have played in 2008?

Seems like Wendy McCaw Derangement Syndrome runs neck and neck with Blame Bush Derangement Syndrome in this forum - odd since it is now 2012, and amnesty is the word of the day.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2013 at 8:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

On one hand we're supposed to blame FDR who was President almost 100 years ago for today's ails; but Bush who was President less than ten years has had no lasting impact/responsibility? Was it the Obama tax cuts that just got repealed? Since the Soviet Union still doesn't exist should Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2 and Obama take credit?
I know the GOP likes to think of leaders as a mere spokesmodels and not actual leaders.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2013 at 8:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks to Oblati, people Googling Mr. Pini will find references to torture, 9-11, various Biblical quotations, and mid-century American Nazis.
Kinda feel sorry for him.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2013 at 8:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken: Weren't your friends R.C. Collins, Margaret Gray, and Vernon Dozier all tenants of Pini?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 7, 2013 at 12:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

And Travis Bickle too.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 7, 2013 at 12:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I imagine living in a Pini complex is a lot like the musical Oklahoma, but set during the Weimar Republic.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 7, 2013 at 1 a.m. (Suggest removal)

By the time they shut this thread down Pini will be connected to every major disaster in history.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 7, 2013 at 1:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

uh, Oblati, it's 2013, try to get your years straight. And you never lie, thanks for telling us about your virtuous probity. Reread Native1 who writes truth.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 7, 2013 at 5:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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