I.V. Uprooted

55 Isla Vista Families Served With Eviction Papers

by Martha Sadler

6626%20Picasso%20Theresa%20%26%20Alma.jpgMore than 50 Isla Vista families will be
scrambling for new lodgings in the next few weeks, having received
30-day notices to vacate the Cedarwood Apartments. The notices were
issued by Dennis P. Block and Associates of Los Angeles, a law firm
specializing in evictions. Claiming at least 100,000 evictions in
30 years of business, Block bragged that his firm has “evicted more
tenants than any other firm on the planet Earth.” Asked whether the
tenants would receive relocation assistance, Block responded that
his client would “follow the law — nothing less, and nothing more.”
His client is a limited liability corporation known only as 6626
Picasso — Cedarwood’s address.

6625%20Joel.jpgBlock said he does not know his client’s
plans for the apartments. However, ever-expanding enrollment at
UCSB continues to put pressure on the housing market in Isla Vista,
where some students pay as much as $650 a month to share a
two-bedroom apartment with three other people. By comparison, Alma
Moya, who assembles medical cameras at a Hollister Avenue factory,
and her 21-year-old daughter Elizabeth Hernandez — a certified
nursing assistant and Santa Barbara City College nursing
student — pay $1,500 a month for their two-bedroom apartment at
Cedarwood, where they have lived for 11 years.

6625%20Picasso.jpgThe property changed hands last week at
about the same time the eviction notices went out, according to
Austin Herlihy, an employee at Radius Group realtors. The previous
owner was Marsch Partners, whose patriarch John Marsch died in May.
Cedarwood tenants report that Marsch built the play equipment in
the courtyard of the complex, and used to enjoy coming by to watch
the children play on it.

The eviction notices caused confusion and dismay among tenant
families. Dated August 15 but handed out by apartment manager Jose
Naves on August 18, the notices do not make it clear when the
30-day period begins. The stated consequences of failure to vacate
on time are inconsistent between different versions of the notice:
The English version threatens unspecified punitive damages if
tenants fail to leave within 30 days, while the Spanish version
says that noncompliant tenants will have to pay $600 fines and
suffer damaged credit histories. Naves did not return phone calls,
but his son said that he is no longer the acting manager and he
doesn’t know who is. Several residents said they need letters of
recommendation to secure a new apartment, but Naves declined to
provide them.

Even in the unlikely case that all of the tenants secure other
apartments on time, most are sorry to leave Cedarwood, which has
become their neighborhood. Many residents have in-laws and other
relatives living in the complex, said Moya, and some neighbors are
like family to each other. In many ways, Cedarwood is ideal for
families, said resident Loretta Young Diaz, because it is within
walking distance from Isla Vista School, shopping, and bus

Clad in swimsuits and carrying towels, 15-year-old Tamara Bitter
and 14-year-old Jessica Diaz — friends since early
childhood — walked together on Tuesday afternoon to the apartment
pool, where they were joined by Jessica’s 9-year-old brother,
sporting goggles. All three were scheduled to start school this
coming Monday, but now they don’t know where they’ll be. Tamara’s
family has discussed moving to Lompoc; Jessica’s might move to

Some tenants hold out hope that such uprooting won’t be
necessary; they’ve begun receiving legal advice from the Santa
Barbara Legal Foundation’s Alex Lambrous, and have held several
meetings with representatives of the Isla Vista Tenants Union. So
far, they have identified one alleged legal foul on the landlord’s
part, namely that the 30-day notices were handed out to Cedarwood’s
Section 8 tenants, whose rent is subsidized by the federal
government and who are entitled by law to 90-day notices. It
remains to be seen whether the tenants will be able to put up a
legal fight in time to challenge their evictions.


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