An often-overlooked consequence of Santa Barbara’s fresh, ocean air is that it also creates a perfect environment for mold. One Mesa resident had to take extreme measures to protect himself from the mold growing in his apartment. 

Shelter from the Spores: This makeshift Styrofoam shelter was built by Brandon Reyes-Gray to seclude himself from mold growing in his bedroom and bathroom. | Credit: Jun Starkey

Brandon Reyes-Gray moved into his Mesa apartment in July 2021 and immediately noticed that his toilet and bathtub habitually flooded, quickly resulting in mold. Reyes-Gray reached out to Delmonte Management Company, including general manager Jeff Waxman, but Reyes-Gray claimed he was told by a worker at the company the mold would “go away eventually.” 

Reyes-Gray paid for a mold inspection from Indoor-Restore Environmental Services in October 2021, which confirmed the presence of mold in the walls and floor of the bathroom. To remain in his home safely, Reyes-Gray constructed a makeshift bedroom with mold-resistant Styrofoam in the living room. 

His situation attracted public attention after he uploaded a video of himself walking through his apartment, showing wood that was covered with mold. The video was posted on Edhat and published by the Santa Barbara Tenants Union through Facebook. 

After a contentious standoff with Waxman, and some involvement from the Tenants Union, Reyes-Gray allowed workers to begin extracting the mold-infested wood, though it is unclear where Reyes-Gray will live while the work is being done. The Independent contacted Delmonte Management but did not hear back before time of publication. This story will be updated as the situation unfolds.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified Waxman as the property owner; he is the general manager of Delmonte Management Company.

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