Moving vans and television news crews jockeyed for driveway space at five Del Playa Drive residences Wednesday afternoon as students facing eviction at 8 a.m. today rushed to move their belongings out of the condemned buildings.

After more than a month of controversy surrounding the county’s decision to oust tenants from nine oceanside properties on DP due to bluff erosion, the eviction deadline has arrived for the five houses not granted time extensions. The decision will leave many of the students living in those five residences homeless, just six days into the new school year.

A press release issued by the county last Friday said students will be treated as criminals if they attempt to stay in the buildings or reenter them after the 8 a.m. deadline passes.

James Gelb, owner of the residences at 6741 and 6743 DP, held a press conference in front of his properties Wednesday afternoon, forcing several residents to skirt television cameras as they shuttled mattresses and desks out to waiting U-Haul vans.

Steven Davis, an undeclared junior formerly living at 6743 DP, had to park his U-Haul in the street while he waited for the news vans to depart. Davis said he and his housemates would be moving their possessions into storage and sleeping on friends’ couches while they continue to search for a place to live.

“We don’t have a place at all,” Davis said. “We’ll probably just couch surf until we find something.”

However, Davis said all they have found so far is dead ends.

“We’ve been looking everywhere from here to downtown,” Davis said. “There’s nothing left.”

At his press conference, Gelb said he had submitted a geotechnical assessment of the buildings to county officials that afternoon. Gelb said that the report, along with three others he had submitted, meets the county’s demand for proof that the buildings are safe for occupation.

“There is no accelerated erosion,” Gelb said. “My attorney and I are going to demand that, with the four reports, they immediately lift the order to vacate.”

Gelb said he recognizes that erosion of the bluffs will eventually require him to make structural modifications to some of the balconies overhanging the cliff, but he said doing so at this point in time would do more harm than good.

“I’m not averse to doing that, I’m just averse to doing it prematurely,” Gelb said. “It would be like me taking out your wisdom teeth before they are ready.”

Even if the county decides to lift the order to vacate, Gelb said it would not be possible for him to move his tenants back into the buildings.

“This has been the worst experience of my life,” Gelb said.

Amber Cloud, a senior psychology major and one of Davis’s housemates at 6743 DP, said the experience has been just as distressing – if not more so – for the students. She said that she and several of her housemates have begun trying to rearrange their class schedules in anticipation of having to live outside Isla Vista.

“Everyone’s trying to crash classes,” Cloud said. “Pretty much all of us just gave up on our schedules.”

Once the final notices to vacate were posted, Cloud said, the county became more and more frank about the eviction deadline – and the penalties for disregarding it.

“It seems a bit ridiculous,” Cloud said. “They were nice about it at first, but then they started saying at 7:59 a.m. they would be kicking everyone out for good.”

This would have been Cloud’s second year in a row living at 6743, and she said she has always felt safe living there.

“This house seems to be the safest,” Cloud said. “I’ve never been afraid of it falling into the ocean.”

Kevin Borella, a senior business economics major and former resident of 6741 DP, said he is disappointed about having to trade his ocean view for the landlocked Chimney Sweep Apartments on Camino del Sur.

“It’s kind of depressing,” Borella said.

While Borella and his roommates have had to pay for the costs of moving themselves, he said he was more concerned about the amount of time it will take to move and settle into a new place.

“It’s more about the hassle of doing it yourself,” Borella said. “We’re all missing classes because of this.”

Colin Simmons, a fifth-year senior sociology major, just moved out of 6757 DP. Simmons said his landlord, Valerie Sweatt of SFM Vista Del Mar Property Management, has paid for all her tenants’ moving and storage costs, and was able to arrange for them to move a new house on Trigo Road.

“We got real lucky,” Simmons said. “Our landlord helped us out a lot. I don’t know what we would have done otherwise – we didn’t go out and look for a new place.”

Simmons said he and his housemates will still have to “couch surf” for about 10 days until they can move into their new home. He said he called the university’s Community Housing Office at one point to ask if they could offer any assistance, and was told that the evicted students were on their own.

“It’s not really fair,” Simmons said. “I think the school should have been more helpful.”

Jesse McCue, a senior psychology major moving out of 6745 DP, said his landlord, David Willows, was considerably less helpful than Simmons’.

“Willows didn’t pay for anything,” McCue said. “He even tried to convince us to move into the house at 6703, which only got a 30-day extension.”

Additionally, McCue said, Willows will not be returning the tenants’ $8,000 security deposit – about $1,600 per person – for another 21 days, making it impossible for several of them to afford a new place to live.

McCue also said he felt that Willows had given them false hopes of remaining in the house from the very beginning.

“He told us we had a 90 percent chance of staying, on Friday,” McCue said. “He even said he was going to throw us a barbecue to celebrate the court decision. Then on Saturday he told us to get out.”

Willows could not be reached for comment as of press time.

For now, McCue said, he and several of his housemates will be storing their belongings in their rented U-Haul for as long as possible. He said the rental company nearly refused to let the group lease the van, as they currently have no destination for it.

“We had to lie and say we were moving to San Diego,” McCue said. “They will be surprised when we bring the truck back with only four miles on the odometer.”