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Tuesday, January 15 , 2019, 8:32 pm | Overcast 56º


Fiesta Inn in Santa Barbara Likely Won’t Meet Construction Deadline to Avoid More Fees, City Says

Property owner Dario Pini was ordered by the city to finish construction and site cleanup by early November

In May, Santa Barbara city officials ordered Fiesta Inn owner Dario Pini to finish construction on the hotel renovations by November.
In May, Santa Barbara city officials ordered Fiesta Inn owner Dario Pini to finish construction on the hotel renovations by November.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Improvements to a State Street hotel likely will not meet the deadline to keep the owner from paying more fines, according to an official from the Santa Barbara City Attorney’s Office.

Earlier this year, city officials gave Dario Pini, the owner of the Fiesta Inn & Suites at 1816 State St., six months to complete construction work at the site.

Building and safety officials had been called out to the site, between Islay and Pedregosa streets, and city officials gave Pini a timeline to finish the job and ordered him to clean up the property, which had been cloaked in scaffolding and construction fencing covered in graffiti.

The property is one of several that Pini has been ordered to repair and upgrade around Santa Barbara.

In 2012, the city filed a lawsuit against him, alleging that many of the landlord’s properties, including rental housing, are “public nuisances” that threaten the community’s safety.

Many of the properties were put under the review of retired Santa Barbara County District Attorney Stan Roden, a mediator with the Superior Court’s Dispute Resolution Program who will be serving as the special master of Pini’s properties.

Pini was ordered to complete all construction by early November, 180 days from the citation issued May 19.

However, last week Deputy City Attorney John Doimas told Noozhawk there had not been as much progress as expected on the property.

While the attorney said he needed more time to find out where the permitting and construction process was in for the hotel building itself, “I can state that they most likely will not meet the deadline called for in the agreement.”

The Fiesta Inn & Suites was given a six-month deadline to finish construction before more fines were levied by the city. Click to view larger
The Fiesta Inn & Suites was given a six-month deadline to finish construction before more fines were levied by the city.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Some improvements have gone forward.

In July, site wall footings for the property’s wall at the rear of the property passed inspection, and Pini had also greed to a neighbor's request to maintain an existing hedge between the two properties, to help establish some type of privacy, Doimas said.

Earlier this year, Doimas said Pini agreed to pay a total of $47,500 in various fines for all of the properties under review and that another $15,000 in fines would be waived if he gets the work done on the Fiesta Inn and complies.

If the deadline isn’t met, Pini would face $5,000 in suspended civil penalties plus new fines for any continuing violations which have yet to be determined and addressed, Doimas said.

Larry Powell, Pini’s attorney, said last week that the project “was on the burner” and that talks are ongoing with the city attorney’s office to finalize a work timeline.

“We’ve been in negotiations on a couple of projects of Mr. Pini’s, the Fiesta Inn being one of them,” he said, adding that they will be talking with the city about coming up with a timeline on the project in the next couple of weeks.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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