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Renters worried about renovictions speak out

Renters speak out about renovicition concerns in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Ca.-When people worried new ownership would lead to renovictions on Bath Street they called their councilmember who went door-to-door.

Mike Jordon said the city didn't have ready-made informational hand-outs, but he wanted renters to know their rights and about local resources.

"It hits home when it is right in your district and if you have been to that property it is kind of an anomaly for that area, nice homes, West Beach, but there is this older apartment house," said Jordan, " and when you knock on the door you run into people like 68 year old people on social security and only scraping by to be able to pay $1000 dollars a month rent and where are they going to go when they get tossed out it becomes a real personal moment."

On Tuesday, James Knapp from the property management company The Koto Group issued a statement that said: "Leases are being renewed at 215 Bath Streets; no one is being evicted and we are not terminating leases. In fact, three leases were renewed in the last few weeks. There was confusion when the new ownership took over more than a month ago and those issues have been resolved with advice from the city."

Renters are still concerned.

Dein Sofley said most of her neighbors pay between $1400-$1900 a month for one bedroom apartments.

She said their pool is locked and they are worried rents will be raised.

Nonprofits including CAUSE and the all-volunteer Santa Barbara Tenants Union are pushing for tenant protections.

Santa Barbara Tenant Union organizer Amber Asher said renovation rent caps could help.

"So what we are saying is if you need to do necessary renovations your tenant who is living there in good standing before that be allowed he opportunity to come back and the amount you raise the rent is no more than ten percent before they had to leave," said Asher.

Airport worker and SEIU union member Ryan Cullom told the city council rents got too high for him to stay in the place he grew up.

"It was more fiscally responsible for me to move to Ventura County, buy a new car to commute and even with gas prices being $6 a gallon, it is cheaper for me to live down there," said Cullom who now drives 45 miles to get to work.

Tara Zanecki wrote letters to the editors of local papers about the issue.

She worries she will be next.

She is dealing with renovations in her apartment building but does not want to be priced out of the Santa Barbara rental market.

Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez said they hope to bring renters and landlords together.

"A few of my council members and i are working on some ordinances to try to address the housing crisis," said Gutierrez,"Not only renters, but also and landlords, we are bringing landlords to the table and trying to negotiate some sort of middle-ground that we can help everybody out."

Stanley Tzankov is a Santa Barbara Tenant's Union activists who wants to encourage people to keep speaking up.

Frank Rodriguez from CAUSE said no action is a choice. He is optimist that things can be done to ease the local housing crisis.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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