We Need Tenant Protections NOW!

Santa Barbara’s housing crisis continues to push out the working-class Latino families through skyrocketing rents, unfair evictions and poor living conditions.  Since 2011, the Latino population of Santa Barbara has declined by over 9,000 people, a 24% loss of the Latino community! This is the reason we re-convened the Rental Housing Roundtable in 2016, a coalition of organizations committed to fighting for renters’ rights in Santa Barbara, and launched our campaign for a citywide Tenants Rights Ordinance. 

After years of community outreach and organizing around the evictions of families at Ivy Apartments, we finally got on the city council agenda for March 21st of 2017.  The result was a packed Santa Barbara City Hall leading to the creation of the Tenant Landlord Taskforce.  Made up of three tenant and three landlord representing organizations, CAUSE stood as the most vocal pro tenant organization on the taskforce against three powerful landlord lobbyist. The first meeting demonstrated the tone for the rest of the sessions, finishing with a compromise that barely moved the needle on not only mediation for unjust rent increases or just cause evictions, but even any type of enforcement on basic habitability issues, a known concern in Santa Barbara heightened by the reawakening of a decade’s long fight with slumlord Dario Pini.  

You can read the minutes of the Tenant Landlord Task Force meetings here on the Santa Barbara City website.

Santa Barbara lacks all of the basic tenants’ right laws that protect working families in cities across the state.  Our region as a coastal community owes added attention to an economy with higher housing costs that are greatly disproportionate to the income of its residents, making workers susceptible to corporate landlords buying up apartment complexes and gentrifying communities, building by building.

The latest case took place at the Voluntario Apartments in the Santa Barbara Eastside, when several unjust rent hikes of working families took place around the State of Emergency in early 2018 due to the Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslides, but missed the cutoff of the Governor’s Anti-Gouging protection by three days.  The tenants and CAUSE leaders spoke up at city hall on July 24th against the corporate landlords Empire USA and corporate property managers Mashcole Property Management inc., who bought the building and implemented drastic rent increases with no repairs to the building whatsoever.  In addition, the longtime manager of the complex had intimidated tenants by calling ICE in the past, an action that is now a violation of the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act that went into law in 2018. 

The ball is back on the court of the Santa Barbara City Council, and currently going before the Ordinance Committee before the end of the year.  Landlords will continue to take advantage of tenants as long as there’s no law stopping them.

Visit SantaBarbaraRenters.com to learn more about our Tenant Rights Ordinance platform and how to get involved.

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