Residents of three cliffside properties on Del Playa Drive have staved off possible eviction for another month, as consultants working for Santa Barbara County continue evaluating how erosion has affected each building’s structural integrity.
For the second time in two months, the county has extended a move-out deadline that was to apply to tenants living at 6619, 6701 and 6703 Del Playa Dr. if the owners of those properties failed to prove that their buildings were safe or could be made safe with repairs. Before this most recent extension, granted at the end of last month, tenants would have been forced to move out Jan. 1, 2005. However, a building official with the county said Tuesday that structural engineering consultants need more time to review the highly complicated reports submitted by the property owners.
“[The deadline] got extended through January because it was impractical to get all the work done,” said Lincoln Thomas, a supervising building inspector with the county. “Consultants from both sides met [Tuesday] trying to get everyone on the same page. They seemed to be making some good headway…”
Thomas, who said he sat in on part of Tuesday’s meeting between consultants hired by the county and those hired by the property owners, said he hopes the situation will be resolved before the end of January.
“I was amazed at how complicated and experimental-sounding some of [the meeting] was,” Thomas said. “It turned out to be an extremely difficult problem; [the consultants] are charting new ground, which is part of the reason this is taking so long.”
Several property owners have said, and their lawyers have argued before a county building and safety appeals board, that they are unfairly being required to defend the safety of their buildings since the county has not proven the buildings unsafe.
“They condemned a building that should never have been condemned in the first place,” said Lou Ventura, of Oceanside Investments, which owns 6619 DP. “If the county can do this to us, they can do it to anyone. Everyone on DP better watch out.”
Ventura said he believes 6619 is one of the safest buildings on DP and that the condemnation order places a stigma on his building that makes it more difficult to market to renters. However, he said, he will continue to do whatever the county asks of him to prove his structure is safe.
“[The condemnation order] should have been removed 60 days ago,” Ventura said. “We’re coming up to $140,000 to $150,000 that we’ve put into this. Cost isn’t an issue here.”