More than 20 protesters, made up of activists and tenants of the Sandpiper Property Management Company, rallied outside its office Friday, admonishing the company’s lack of response to tenants on issues including rising rent, disability accommodations, and renovations on decaying structures.
“Sandpiper, shame on you! Repair the plumbing! Fix the leaking roof! Change the old carpets!” a chorus of tenants and local activists chanted, demanding any kind of response from their landlord. “Answer your emails! Answer your phone! Slum lords!”
The Santa Barbara Tenants’ Union organized and attended the protest on behalf of the many tenants who have complained to the union regarding Sandpiper’s management. Representatives from the Santa Barbara branch of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) also attended the event in support of tenants.
“Your tenants are your employers,” David Herrera, campaign leader of the tenants’ union, shouted outside the Sandpiper office building, which gave no sign of acknowledgement through its locked doors and covered windows. “The tenants pay your salaries!”
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Henry Delgado and his sister have lived in their San Pascual apartment for over 10 years, with the property recently being acquired by Sandpiper. Delgado lives on the second floor and said he has been requesting a ground-floor apartment for a few months now, saying climbing up to his apartment every day is stressful and physically draining for him and his family. “We’ve been living in our apartment for 10 years and have been applying for a ground-floor apartment since May,” Delgado said. “Two ground-floor apartments have been available and leased without us being notified or even considered.”
Wendy Santamaria, organizer of the S.B. branch of CAUSE, also attended as a form of support to tenants, discussing how the city could do more to prevent renters from being taken advantage of by predatory property owners. Unless tenants have the time and the means to take their landlord to court, Santamaria said, there is essentially no recourse for them.
“Remember when you’re sitting at home with your family, and you have food and a home,” said Estella Montano, a Sandpiper resident who has complained for months that the staircase outside her home was crumbling and unsafe, “that you have it because of these people here.”
The Independent reached out to Sandpiper management for comment but received no response before deadline.