The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors failed to reach a consensus on tenants’ rights legislation yesterday.
After a lengthy debate, the board postponed its decision regarding proposed amendments to County Ordinance 4444. The issue will be reconsidered once the board deems enough research has been conducted regarding possible solutions for tenants who have been evicted from their homes.
Ordinance 4444 was originally adopted in 2002 to supplement state laws outlining the rights and duties of landlords and tenants. The proposed amendments would strengthen protections for displaced renters by increasing the minimum eviction notice period and providing higher relocation payments for evicted tenants, among other provisions.
Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said tenants’ rights and eviction issues have been increasingly relevant in the county over the past several years.
“I have been increasingly frustrated with this,” Farr said. “As a supervisor, I am getting a lot of calls from people concerned about this situation. There is no question; we need to have a plan.”
Although the amendments garnered support from several board members, 4th District Supervisor Joni Gray and 5th District Supervisor Joseph Centeno said they needed more time to review the information.
Kelly Burns, a UCSB earth sciences graduate student, said she was unhappy with the supervisors’ indecision.
“We have been working on this for months,” Burns said. “The board should have come to the table today ready to make a decision. … I’m really angry about this.”
Burns was an undergraduate at the time of the 2004 Del Playa evictions, when residents of the street were evicted with little notice and expected to continue paying rent while owners were forced to renovate due to cliff erosion.
“This happened during finals week,” Burns said. “The county had no authority to do anything for us.”
Several other UCSB students attended the meeting to voice their concerns as well.
“With all this anxiety over our living situation, the worrying can take a toll on our school work,” third-year student Omid Niroumandzadeh said.
Local resident James Robertson noted that renters deserve better treatment.
“I’ve been a resident of Goleta since 1966 and have spent a lot of my time as a property owner,” Robertson said. “It’s completely right for the tenants to be treated just as well as the owners.”