Capps and Staff Visit
Tenants Facing Eviction
from Isla Vista Apartments
Chicago-Based Developer Core Spaces
Agrees to English and Spanish Notices
by Jean Yamamura and Anika Duncan | March 25, 2023
Isla Vista tenants complained of cockroaches, leaks, and break-ins in Reddit posts, comments that brought to light the conditions they’d seen at the apartments from which they’ve just been evicted by their new landlord. Chicago-based developer Core Spaces bought their three aging buildings on March 16 for $91 million, and the next day the tenants received eviction notices that kicked them out in 60 days or at the end of their lease.
One of the hundreds of tenants at the buildings, Angeliza (who gave only her first name) said she was really stressed out at having to find a new place, especially because “we all have to do this at the same time.” Angeliza felt that landlords were aware of the desperate situation the tenants were in — one landlord increased the security deposit of an apartment she viewed after learning she was a UCSB student. “And there are families here. They don’t have the resources we do from UCSB,” she worried.
Isla Vista’s county supervisor, Laura Capps, and her staff knocked on every door as soon as Capps learned of the severity of the evictions. “I knew they were in survival mode and had to make a decision,” she said. The apartments — located at 6711 and 6721 El Colegio, and 775 Camino del Sur — hold 234 units and more than 550 tenants.
“We heard such a diversity of stories,” Capps said of the Wednesday visits. “One woman had been there for 12 years and had already signed another lease for $4,000.” The sum made Capps gasp; the Sweeps’ rents are around $2,000 for one- and two-bedroom apartments. “She was going to live with her daughter, who also lived at the Sweeps,” said Capps. They signed the lease because they felt they had to find a new place, they told her.
For many Capps met that day, pets would be another issue. “There was a dog at every door,” she said, “which makes it all the harder to find a place.” For all that Santa Barbarans love animals, it’s hard to find a landlord who will allow pets.
The apartments are called CBC & the Sweeps, and were once known as the Colonial, Balboa, and Cortez apartments. Core Spaces bought the apartments 17 years after Essex Apartment Homes had bought them for about $87 million. Core Spaces’ website boasts the 13-year-old company has “20,000 beds and units,” putting expensive “luxury” apartments in dozens of college towns from Seattle to Champaign — the Illinois campus where its founders attended college — to Tempe, Tampa, and Tuscaloosa.
As Capps’s crew came through early Wednesday morning, sleepy students answered the knocks, as well as an international bunch of tenants of all ages. The majority of those at home were families, said Jordan Killebrew, a district representative for Capps. “Many were Spanish speakers, who had tried but couldn’t read the notices they’d received,” he said. “Fortunately, Daniela Aguirre in our office speaks Spanish and could translate for us.” They left printouts of the free legal and food resources available to the tenants, but Killebrew said they hadn’t yet found a housing provider.
Capps also placed a call to Scott Stager, an executive vice president with Core Spaces, asking him if he realized the apartments held low-income families, as well as students, who might not be able to find housing in 60 days. Would he reconsider and reverse the eviction decision, she asked. “I felt I had to at least make a plea on their behalf,” Capps said.
Stager seemed taken aback to learn so many of his tenants spoke only Spanish. “I had the opportunity to inform him about this demographic that his company had chosen to evict,” Capps said. “Isla Vista, at least in South County, is where people live who can least afford to have this happen in their lives. He did not realize this demographic was Spanish speaking.”
A spokesperson for Core Spaces, Katy Darnaby, asserted in an email that the company had bilingual team members at the location and that future notices would be provided in English and Spanish. “We are allowing as many tenants as possible to continue living in the community until the end of their current lease term,” she said, “and have been able to honor the full lease terms for nearly all our existing tenants.”
The 60-day notices were given ahead of the permits for the renovation work, in order “to give our tenants as much notice as possible to find alternative housing,” she stated. The scope of the renovations was being finalized, but they knew it could not be done safely with tenants in place, Darnaby said, and permits would be applied for in the coming weeks.
According to the county code, tenants are eligible for three months of rent or $7,000, whichever is greater, when 10 percent or more of a building’s tenants are forced to leave for renovations. However, the provisions fall into place only within 90 days of the owner applying for permits — a caveat the code states is “rebuttable” — but if the landowner complies, they get onto a fast-track permit process.
According to Darnaby, Core Spaces “will be complying with all applicable legal requirements.”
Correction: DRW of Chicago is not an investor in Core Spaces but had invested in some of its real estate dealings.
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