Santa Barbara city officials and law enforcement launched a series of surprise inspections Tuesday at 164 residential and motel units owned or managed by Dario Pini, a well-known and controversial landlord in Santa Barbara.
According to the city attorney’s office, the inspections follow a June decision by the city council to finance a more aggressive effort to fix unlawful and dangerous housing conditions. The operation was launched three days after a deadly warehouse fire in Oakland, CA killed at least 36 people and touched off a national conversation about unpermitted and unsafe living and work spaces.
On Monday a Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge issued warrants authorizing this week’s unannounced inspections, when a team including zoning, building and environmental services staff, as well as police and fire officials, started visiting Pini’s numerous properties looking for code violations.
Deputy City Attorney John Doimas told KCBX Pini has a lengthy history with the city, with various departments and agencies filing charges and violations against the landlord “going back decades.” Pini did not return KCBX’s phone message Tuesday requesting comment, left with a staff member at the office number listed on Pini’s DPL Management, Ltd. website.
Pini will be held responsible for paying relocation expenses to any displaced tenants as a result of the sweep, and the city attorney’s office promises to pursue repayment from Pini.
“The City will advance temporary accommodation funds to dislocated residents in the event Mr. Pini does not to meet his statutory obligations,” City Attorney Ariel Calonne wrote in announcing the inspection operation. "The City will pursue reimbursement for the funds advanced to residents and the costs of enforcement, to the maximum extent allowed by law.”