When residents of 6560 Del Playa Drive learned their building was going to be torn down, they took matters into their own hands and demolished it themselves, leaving little more than a pile of rebar and drywall in the gutted structure.

At the beginning of the school year, the tenants of over two and a half years – all of whom are students – were informed that the lot would be completely demolished by June 26. The first step of the construction project – tearing down the main unit facing the street – was scheduled to occur prior to the end of the year.

Yet instead of letting the contractor handle it, the tenants ripped the place apart and left the gutted remains in the front yard for all of Isla Vista to see. And while the pile of debris has since been removed, so has nearly everything else – except for the walls.

Ben Ray, a second-year psychology major at SBCC and current tenant of 6560, said he and his housemates knew the building’s time was coming to an end and decided to take advantage of the rare opportunity to do a bit of preemptive demolition on their own.

“They were going to tear that main building down in a few days, or at least that’s what they told us,” Ray said. “So some friends came over and we decided to tear up the house since it was going down anyway.”

Ray said the project was accomplished over a couple weeks, beginning with relatively small destructive acts that quickly escalated, culminating in the gutted structure that used to be his home.

“The destruction started about two and a half weeks ago,” he said. “We actually began by simply sticking stuff straight into the walls – you know, a handle of Jack in the wall, a chair in the wall, then we moved on from there. It’s been kind of an ongoing process.”

Despite the creative energy the residents devoted to demolishing their house, the process was not all fun and games. According to Logan Stewart, another tenant and third-year biology major, the tenants spent many hours this past week reducing the debris to manageable levels in order to make way for the professional demolition crew.

“The clean up took quite a few days even with several people toiling to get rid of the shit,” Stewart said.

The current tenants are the first students to lease the house, which was formerly the residence of a local welder. Due to future plans for the property, they will be the last to lease the building in its current state.

St. George and Associates, the landlord and property management company with several other units in Isla Vista, plans to tear the old building down to make way for a new duplex on the mountainside Del Playa lot. According to the company’s website, the new structure will follow a similar framework as the neighboring unit at 6598 – which is also owned by St. George — and will be at least partially available for rent by the 2009-10 school year.