Dario Pini, one of Santa Barbara's better known landlords, was arrested early in the morning of March 22 for stealing construction materials of limited value from a property that did not belong to him, located at 318 West Carrillo Street. The theft for which Pini was accused occurred last Sunday afternoon. He was arrested, booked into County Jail, and reportedly released all on the same day.
Pini, who owns hundreds of rental units throughout the City of Santa Barbara, is accused of stealing copper tubing, coaxial cables, and water heater pipe tubing from a building renovation project owned by Jim Craviotto. Pini was seen taking the materials from the site by several people who dwell in one of his rental units across the street. One of the witnesses confronted Pini, who police say replied he had the owner's permission to take the items. Police state that the witness told Pini he did not believe him and threatened to call the police. Pini, at that point, reportedly dropped the materials and left. A subsequent investigation, police say, revealed that Pini did not have Craviotto's permission to take the materials.
Pini — well known at City Hall and to city police — was identified via a photo lineup and a warrant for his arrest was issued Thursday. He was arrested at 3:10 a.m. on Friday when police were responding to a disturbance by State Street and Cabrillo Boulevard. Police speculate that Pini — known to keep a keen ear on the police scanner — may have been on hand because he shows up frequently when his properties are involved in calls for service. Pini's version of events is not clear as he was not available for comment, and his attorney Larry Powell said his knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the arrest was limited.
Pini had been the focus of a major public hearing Tuesday night in front of the City Council as Westside residents appealed an approval Pini had received to build a duplex at 1911 Chino Street. Neighborhood residents complained that Pini's history as a chronic building code violator disqualified his application from consideration. Ultimately, the city council voted unanimously to send Pini's plans back to the Architectural Board of Review for reconsideration. Councilmembers tied approval of the Chino Street project to Pini resolving any outstanding building code violations, now the subject of a massive lawsuit filed against him by the City Attorney's office.
At that meeting, councilmembers expressed hope that Pini would turn over a new leaf when it came to building code violations. Pini has been charged on at least one previous occasion for taking materials from other people's construction sites.