Santa Barbara City Attorney Ariel Calonne announced that 3,200 notices of code violations on 13 rental properties owned by landlord Dario Pini were posted this Tuesday. Calonne said Pini, the target of an intense inspection sweep in early December, will have 30 days to remediate the issues. How Pini complies, Calonne said, will affect whether the city initiates receivership actions against him. The notices of violation include vermin, mold, faulty toilets, exposed wiring, and construction conducted without permits. Calonne said tenants would be notified by mail that the work was required but that they had nothing to fear.
“These are trumped up charges,” Pini said, resulting from when building inspectors arrived on his properties in December with 15 armed police officers “It’s a Wednesday. It’s raining. Kids are in school,” he said. “They have no place to go.” The whole thing, Pini said, extremely alarmed the tenants. “Imagine, Trump just got elected and now this!”
Though Pini claimed the violations were not health and safety concerns, one two-bedroom unit reportedly had 12 beds and was missing an inside doorknob. Pini expressed surprise at this, but he said it was because previous low-income rentals have been recently upgraded, displacing existing tenants. His attorney, Larry Powell, said the five yellow-tagged properties inspected in December have been brought up to code and that they were working on the other 95. To date, City Hall has never taken over a rental property from a noncompliant landlord. And Pini, who rents to thousands of tenants, has never lost a property to receivership. As for the rats found in his properties, Pini was underwhelmed: “The other day I was in the courthouse, and I saw a rat run by. They’re everywhere.”
Editor’s Note: This story was revised on Feb. 22 to reflect that it is five yellow-tagged properties that were fixed, not all 100 of them.