A criminal misdemeanor charge was filed against landlord Dario Pini by Santa Barbara County prosecutors because Pini allegedly had his workers continue using scaffolding outside a downtown motel despite written instructions by state safety inspectors not to do so. The exact problems with the scaffolding remain uncertain, but the California Occupational and Safety Administration (Cal/OSHA) dispatched two inspectors to Pini’s Fiesta Inn & Suites — at 1816 State Street — last October.
Pini is currently in the midst of a major remodel project, and the safety inspectors issued an order that the scaffolding was not safe to be used. According to the prosecution complaint, Pini’s workers continued to do so anyway. Cal/OSHA Safety Engineer Terry Hammer said she could not discuss the matter, but confirmed she referred the case to the department’s Bureau of Investigations.
Pini’s attorney Larry Powell said he could not comment on the charge because he had not yet read details of the underlying facts. He also stated that the October Cal/OSHA inspection had nothing to do with the employee who fell from a second story window at the Fiesta a few months earlier in the year. Powell stated the employee in question has long since been released from Cottage Health. Inspectors with the City of Santa Barbara issued a “red tag” stop work order on the 26-room hotel in March 2014 and fined Pini about $30,000 for renting rooms to tenants in the hotel while the Fiesta was under construction.