Elected officials in and around Isla Vista condemned impending evictions of their constituents residing in the CBC & The Sweeps complex and said they are working to scout out resources and plan further actions to aid affected residents.
Multi-billion-dollar real estate firm Core Spaces acquired the complex on March 15 and, a day later, delivered eviction notices to all its residents ahead of what it described as “substantial renovations.”
Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisor Laura Capps questioned Scott Stager, the firm’s executive vice president of asset management and the signatory of the eviction letters, during a March 23 phone call, urging Stager to reverse course on the planned evictions.
“Stager mostly replied with ‘we can be amenable’ or ‘we can look into that’ — he admitted that he was unaware of the demographics of Isla Vista — being an area of the highest poverty in the county,” Capps’ district representative Jordan Killebrew said in a statement to the Nexus.
Capps and her team canvassed the apartment complex the day prior, meeting largely with Spanish-speaking families and sharing a resource sheet to residents.
“One mother and daughter rushed to get another apartment at $4k/month and jumped on the opportunity because the security deposit was only $800,” Killebrew said in the statement. “This breaks our heart because we quickly realized that some tenants may not be aware of all their rights.”
Capps and 1st District Supervisor Das Williams are working with County Planning & Development and the County Counsel to prepare their response to the evictions, according to Killebrew.
“This mass eviction — perhaps the largest in California — is [a] devastating CODE RED emergency for nearly 1000 people in our community and could not be more urgent for me and my team,” Capps said in a statement to the Nexus. “Most of these people have nowhere to turn — there simply aren’t enough affordable homes for them to move to. We need to help them — we must help.”
In a March 21 Board of Supervisors meeting, 3rd district Supervisor Joan Hartmann said UC Santa Barbara is at fault for the housing struggles in and around I.V. as a result of its alleged violation of the 2010 Long Range Development Plan, the subject of ongoing lawsuits brought by both the county and the City of Goleta.
“We’ve heard two things today: the travesty of people being evicted from their apartments in Isla Vista — families and students — and then concerns about … the housing element mandates we have and what that’s doing to agricultural and open space lands,” Hartmann said during the meeting. “Both of those are a result of UCSB’s failure to follow through on their agreement with the county and the City of Goleta in 2010 to build the housing for their students, their faculty and staff.”
UCSB spokesperson Kiki Reyes said the university is currently working to support affected students and find alternative housing.
“Our University & Community Housing Services team is working to understand how many students may need assistance and will work to help them find alternative housing,” Reyes said in a statement to the Nexus. “The Associated Students Legal Resource Center has been working with students to help them respond and to ensure that all of their rights are protected.”
The campus’ Basic Needs Resource Program can be of additional assistance for students facing emergency situations related to food or housing, according to Reyes, who added students can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
The Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) unanimously approved a letter to the Board of Supervisors, urging action to be taken to prevent the impending mass eviction. The letter also advocated for a “moratorium on mass evictions in light of a local & state housing crisis,” it announced April 3 in a statement.
The letter encouraged the full funding of legal counsel for all tenants facing eviction, the closing of possible loopholes in county ordinances and the requiring of a “staggered timeline,” as well as relocation assistance for future evictions.
“As District President, I believe it is very important that we stand in support of local residents who have been renting and contributing to our community for multiple decades and generations,” IVCSD Board President Marcos Aguilar said in the statement.
The impending evictions closely mirror a 2006 mass eviction in I.V. that saw Conquest Student Housing purchase the Cedarwood Apartments and subsequently evict its residents — dozens of low-income families among them — in order to renovate the apartments and raise rents.
22 families initially refused to heed the eviction notices — their efforts worked to garner concessions from Conquest Student Housing, as did further protest, which continued after all residents had vacated their homes.
The Isla Vista Tenants Union — which played a prominent role in the resistance to Conquest Student Housing’s mass eviction — is still in the process of gathering information ahead of any future response, according to its chair and fourth-year political science and linguistics double major Riley Hull.
“After that we will be making decisions about moving forward, but at the very least in between now and then we will be hosting an informational session with a lawyer to discuss what they are doing (as soon as we know the fine print) and will be sending out email blasts to tenants we were able to get contact information for with information we get as we get it,” Hull said in a statement to the Nexus.
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