Santa Barbara tenants who lose their digs
due to demolition or condo conversion could soon be eligible for up
to three months of free rent or $4,000, courtesy of their
landlords, if a proposed ordinance wending its way through the City
Council’s Ordinance Committee is approved by the whole council. The
Ordinance Committee rejected arguments from the Santa Barbara
Rental Property Owners, which urged a less generous allowance and
exemptions for demolitions involving fewer than five units. (If the
ordinance with the five-unit exemption had been in effect, the
measure would have provided protection in only three of the 96
teardowns and conversions of the past five years.) Councilmember
Grant House sought to include conversions of modest apartments to
luxury apartments in the measure, but failed to convince
Councilmembers Brian Barnwell and Iya Falcone.

In a major legal victory for the more than
500 trailer dwellers in Goleta, U.S. District Court Judge
Florence-Marie Cooper upheld Goleta’s mobile home rent control
ordinance. Rancho Mobile Home Park owner Daniel Guggenheim sued
Goleta in 2002, claiming that park residents – who own the trailers
but rent the land they sit on – fetch high prices for trailers
located in rent-controlled parks, thereby taking profits that are
rightfully his. Judge Cooper sided with Guggenheim in 2004, but
reversed her ruling last week in light of two recent Supreme Court
decisions – Lingle v. Chevron and Cashman v. Cotati – that rendered
the city’s ordinance a legitimate land-use regulation, according to
Goleta attorney Bruce Gridley.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed
to sign a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger urging him to
sign a bill that would require landlords to give 60 days’ notice
before evicting tenants. The current standard is 30 days.
Supervisors made the promise in response to UCSB students and other
advocates for the working-class families evicted from Isla Vista’s
Cedarwood Apartments to make room for students.

County mental health caseworkers will be dispatched to the Hotel
de Riviera, which houses homeless people suffering from mental
health and addiction problems. Hotel operators have complained the
county was not living up to its agreement to send caseworkers to
the facility 20 hours a week. County Mental Health czar James
Broderick noted that mental health workers have been stretched thin
of late.


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