Editor, Daily Nexus:
This is a response to the front-page article, "Local Landlord Dumped Asbestos; Prosecution Never Went to Court" (Daily Nexus, Feb. 7).
The article creates the unfortunate appearance that my agency and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office were not cooperatively involved in the investigation and prosecution of the asbestos removal that occurred last year at the Aladdin apartments in Isla Vista. This is certainly not the case. When our investigator compiled his information and realized that potential criminal activities had occurred, we sought and received the district attorney’s immediate interest and assumption of the case. After that, we worked cooperatively with Allan Kaplan of that office to provide him with the information he required to assess the activities that had occurred and to determine whether these constituted civil or criminal matters. These determinations as to civil or criminal prosecution rest fully and rightly with the district attorney’s office, and we respect their ability to balance the many factors that must be considered. We are satisfied that this case was duly and properly settled with the apartment owner, and that the prosecution of the case has provided substantial incentives to other property owners in similar circumstances to ensure that their asbestos-removal activities comply with applicable law.
Several false impressions bear correction. The case was settled in court, where a final judgment against the apartment owner was signed by a superior court judge. Additionally, the district attorney’s office properly followed up on our investigative report, and requested additional investigation from our inspector to help evaluate the case. The bank records involved in the real estate transaction were voluntarily supplied to the district attorney, so no subpoena was required. Finally, while one estimate of the asbestos removal cost was $120,000, two others set the cost for proper removal at approximately $60,000.
DOUGLAS W. ALLARD