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Santa Barbara Orders State Street Motel Owner to Clean Up, Complete Construction Work

Landlord Dario Pini back in hot water over lack of progress, mounting debris at Fiesta Inn & Suites project

The City of Santa Barbara has given motel owner Dario Pini six months to complete construction work on his Fiesta Inn & Suites at 1816 State St. Click to view larger
The City of Santa Barbara has given motel owner Dario Pini six months to complete construction work on his Fiesta Inn & Suites at 1816 State St. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Frustrated at the apparent lack of progress of major renovations at a motel just up State Street from downtown Santa Barbara, city officials have given the owner six months to complete the construction work.

For months now, Fiesta Inn & Suites at 1816 State St. has been cloaked with scaffolding and surrounded by construction fencing covered in graffiti.

After building and safety officials were called out to the site, between Islay and Pedregosa streets, city officials gave property owner Dario Pini a timeline to finish the job and ordered him to clean up the mess.

Pini’s attorney, Larry Powell, did not respond to Noozhawk’s request for comment Friday.

According to Deputy City Attorney John Doimas, people were living at the motel when the city yellow-tagged the property in April 2014. The yellow-tag designation means the building is uninhabitable while the work is going on, he said.

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 are “public nuisances” that threaten the community’s safety.

“Official city records indicate that hundreds of city administrative code enforcement actions have been opened as a result of municipal code violations occurring at Pini’s real properties over the last three decades,” the lawsuit stated.

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.

The city sent out notices on the Fiesta Inn property, and had two concerns, Doimas said.

“The Fiesta Inn has been a problem,” he said of the motel, citing the overall condition of the construction site as the work took place.

“There was debris and and everything strewn about,” he explained.

The city also wanted to make sure that work was progressing.

Roden agreed that “Mr. Pini had to continue to make progress and make sure the construction site is cleaned up.”

He added that Pini must complete all construction by early November, 180 days from the citation issued May 19.

The City of Santa Barbara’s review process begins when it receives complaints, which often are from neighbors, and the municipal code enforcement team responds.

The city also offers a building and safety hotline at 805.897.2676.

Doimas said that the when the city has problem properties, the city attorney’s office will bring the cases before Roden, who makes recommendations to Superior Court Judge Colleen Sterne.

In the latest round of fines levied by the city, Doimas said, Pini agreed to pay a total of $47,500 in various fines for all of the properties under review. Another $15,000 in fines will be waived if he gets the work done on the Fiesta Inn and complies.

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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