A superior court judge ruled on Monday that Isla Vista landlord James Gelb’s arraignment be continued to April 19, making it the fifth time a judge has postponed Gelb’s hearing since he was charged for yelling homophobic slurs at an I.V. official last November.
Gelb’s latest arraignment on Monday was postponed after a representative for Gelb’s lawyer, Josh Lynn, filed a demurrer with Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Raimundo Montes De Oca to delay the hearing.
Gelb, the proprietor of Del Playa Rentals, owns 37 I.V. properties and has racked up complaints from residents who have leased from him over the past two decades. His controversial, often profane communications with his residents are frequently caught on video and published on social media.
In November, Gelb was charged with a misdemeanor after he was filmed hurling a barrage of homophobic slurs at I.V. Community Services District President Ethan Bertrand on State Street in downtown Santa Barbara.
The video shows Gelb repeatedly calling Bertrand a “fag” and making lewd references to anal sex after Bertrand had told him that he treats his residents poorly. Bertrand, who is openly gay, serves on the I.V. CSD Board of Directors.
The incident received considerable local media coverage and Gelb faced widespread community backlash. Gelb issued a statement in response, attributing his lack of filter to Asperger’s Syndrome and accusing Bertrand of calling him a “pedophile” and a “felon” before the video began — a claim Bertrand has since denied.
Days later, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced the county would charge Gelb with one count of disturbing the peace.
Since then, Gelb’s arraignment has been continually delayed. He has not been present at any of the hearings. In February, his representation unsuccessfully filed to have the case dismissed.
In a Facebook group titled “Texts From Gelb,” I.V. residents share videos of Gelb’s public outbursts and screenshots of profane texts he had sent them. On Saturday, a user posted a video of Gelb using misogynistic slurs to tell residents not to sit on the roof of their complex. He also refers to the apparent sale of his properties, which he had been pursuing since October.
“I don’t need these fucking cunts falling off my roof, ruining my sale,” he says at one point in the video. “Tell that fucking whore to get off my goddamn roof!” he shouts at another.
Gelb declined the Nexus’s request for comment on the video.
Bertrand said he was frustrated the process has taken so long, but he won’t be deterred from seeing it through.
“I’ll continue to show up to these hearings for as long as I need to,” Bertrand told the Nexus. “It’s important that when there’s an attack on members of the LGBTQ community, we stand up and say, ‘This is not acceptable.’”