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Hundreds of tenants in Isla Vista displaced by renovations amid local housing crisis

Residents of CBC and The Sweeps in Isla Vista received notices to terminate their leases. The buildings were recently sold and the new owners, Core Spaces, plan to renovate.
Beth Thornton
Residents of CBC and The Sweeps in Isla Vista received notices to terminate their leases. The buildings were recently sold and the new owners, Core Spaces, plan to renovate.

In mid-March, tenants of three large apartment buildings in Isla Vista near UC Santa Barbara were notified in writing that they must move out. They were initially given 60-days notice and offered one month of relocation assistance.

The buildings, known jointly as CBC and The Sweeps, recently sold to a national real-estate development firm called Core Spaces. According to the notices, Core Spaces intends to make substantial renovations to the properties and renters must vacate the premises.

Marcos Aguilar, President of the Board for the Isla Vista Community Services District, said many people think Isla Vista is just a revolving door for UCSB students, but several families and long-term residents also live at these properties.

“CBC and The Sweeps definitely has tenants and neighbors who have known each other for decades and seen each other grow up and contributed to the neighborhood for a long time,” Aguilar said.

He said about 240 apartments and an estimated 600 people are affected. Aguilar and directors of the IV Community Services District sent a letter to the County requesting assistance for the tenants.

“We wrote a letter to ask mostly for Santa Barbara County to look for any possible legal avenue in order to delay and also to provide resources for the people living at CBC and The Sweeps,” he said.

Flickr member Ryosuke Yagi
Isla Vista is home to many UCSB students, but there are also families who have lived in the area for decades.

Aguilar said local elected officials and other organizations, like the Legal Aid Foundation and Santa Barbara Tenants Union, are providing resources and translation services for residents, many of whom speak only Spanish.

“The notices were served in English and a number of folks who live there did not have access to translation services until community volunteers stepped up,” he said.

Last week, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors held an emergency meeting to consider legal options for the residents. Numerous tenants and members of the community called for better protections for renters, especially in the current housing crisis where few, if any, options exist for low-income households evicted for renovations – often called renovictions.

The Supervisors voted to amend the county ordinance Chapter 44 to better regulate renovictions from this point forward.

While local organizations rallied to help the tenants, the new owners, Core Spaces, provided some temporary relief by extending move-out dates. In an email to KCBX, Katy Darnaby, Managing Director of Marketing and Communications for Core Spaces, said the company sent new notices on April 4 allowing as many tenants as possible to continue living in the community until the end of their current lease term.

She said tenants have, on average, four months before their required move out date.

Core Spaces also increased relocation assistance from one month to three months rent or $7,000, whichever is greater.

Darnaby added that the company is working directly with residents and community leaders to address concerns, answer questions and find solutions.

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, and has contributed to KQED's statewide radio show The California Report.
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