The Associated Students Senate unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday condemning Isla Vista landlord James Gelb’s homophobic statements toward I.V. CSD President Ethan Bertrand on Nov. 7 in downtown Santa Barbara.
In the resolution, the Associated Students (A.S.) Senate recommended the I.V. Tenants’ Union (IVTU) hold a town hall meeting with tenants and property owners to discuss relations between tenants and landlords.
The IVTU plans to host a town hall meeting next Tuesday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m. at the Community Room of the I.V. Neighborhood Clinic at 970 Embarcadero Del Mar, according to fourth-year Daniel Renteria, IVTU chair and one of the resolution’s student sponsors.
“Nobody should have to deal with this abusive behavior,” Renteria said at the Senate meeting.
“We support tenants rights to speak and organize against unjust housing conditions,” the resolution reads. “Housing is monopolized by a few large investment corporations and multimillionaire landlords who overstepped their legal boundaries.”
According to Santa Barbara County tax rolls from 2015, Gelb had a property value of $39.3 million. The Santa Barbara Independent’s analysis of the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District bedroom tax ranked him as the fifth wealthiest property owner in Isla Vista.
There are multiple videos and texts revealing altercations between Gelb and other Isla Vista tenants published online that are the “most troubling” to the Senate, the resolution reads.
Maalizadeh, a transfer senator and fourth-year biology major, said at the Senate meeting that he hopes the Tenants’ Union’s town hall can provide tenants and landlords a place to discuss their concerns and work to reach resolutions.
“This meeting is in light of Gelb’s comments, but can include other interactions similar to this from other landlords,” Maalizadeh said.
Gelb was filmed yelling profanities and homophobic slurs at Bertrand at approximately 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7. A friend of Bertrand’s filmed the incident.
In the video, Bertrand confronted Gelb about the landlord’s decision to sell all of his 37 properties in I.V. and said he did not treat his tenants well.
Gelb became upset and began to follow Bertrand down the 500 block of State Street, shouting homophobic slurs at Bertrand, who is openly gay.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Tuesday she would file disturbing the peace charges against Gelb.
Renteria told the Nexus Wednesday that the Tenants’ Union has received complaints from tenants about Gelb and Del Playa Rentals.
He said if landlords or property owners harass or intimidate their tenants, he would advise them to “not engage” with their landlord’s actions.
IVTU created an educational campaign for Del Playa Rentals tenants after multiple complaints about Gelb and alleged violations of tenants rights came to their attention, according to the resolution.