Former Isla Vista landlord James Gelb has entered into a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace, specifically for using “offensive words in public place,” according to Santa Barbara County court records.

Gelb was recorded using profanity and homophobic slurs.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney charged Gelb with the misdemeanor in mid-November after he was recorded yelling at Ethan Bertrand, president of the I.V. Community Services District (CSD), on Nov. 7, 2017 in downtown Santa Barbara.

Gelb initially pled not guilty to the charge.

The video, filmed by a friend of Bertrand, shows Bertrand confronting Gelb about the landlord’s decision to sell all of his I.V. properties, stating Gelb treats his tenants “very poorly.”

Gelb then follows Bertrand down the 500 block of State Street, shouting profanity and homophobic slurs. He uses the words “fag” and “faggot” several times in the one minute and 34 second video, as well as the phrase “go fuck yourself.”

Bertrand, who is openly gay, initially said in an interview with the Nexus that he was “especially disturbed” when Gelb followed him down the sidewalk.

Gelb made the decision to sell all his properties in I.V. in October 2017. The properties, which Gelb has accumulated over a period of 23 years, are worth more than $80 million.

Gelb’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

The full video of the incident can be viewed here.

This article will be updated.


Evelyn Spence
Evelyn Spence harbors a great love for em dashes and runs on nothing but iced coffee, Jolly Ranchers and breaking news. She serves as the managing editor and can be reached at, or at @evelynrosesc on Twitter.