Focusing on Dario Pini distracts attention from the legion of crummy landlords in Santa Barbara who offer poorly maintained rentals for outrageously high rents. Even worse, these landlords think tenants actively choose to live in such condition because they signed a rental agreement. Never mind that people need to put a roof over their heads. Now, to add insult to injury, landlords are raising rents even though the wages of the tenant pool have stagnated or gone down. A crummy studio for $1300?! A crummy one-bedroom for $1500-1700?! Today I saw a room advertised at $900.

Rentals should have laundry, off-street parking, and good lighting. (Ironically, landlords say the high rent is for the Santa Barbara sunshine, yet fully half the apartments are dark.) If an apartment is deficient, the rent should be correspondingly reduced. If rent matched conditions, most one-bedrooms would cost no more than about $900. On top of all this, most landlords offering crummy rentals prohibit pets as if pets could possibly make their rentals worse.

For the rent tenants in Santa Barbara pay, everyone should have primo housing, not the garbage that even relatively high-earning professionals are compelled to live in. That crummy one-bedroom for $1500 will require a qualifying wage of $27/hour. How many Santa Barbara tenants can afford that? Therefore, it unreasonable to expect both high rents and low occupancy per unit. Affordable is not supposed to mean low-income. It is supposed to mean a fair price for good quality. Santa Barbara needs affordable housing. Meanwhile, developers are proposing luxury housing instead, like Mark Lee’s Veronica Meadows.


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