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Vandal Cuts Electrical Wires at Fiesta Inn Construction Site in Santa Barbara

Police Department is investigating the felony burglary, vandalism case that caused damage estimated in the range of $50,000-$100,000

Santa Barbara police are investigating a vandalism case at the Fiesta Inn construction site after someone reportedly cut electrical wires in several rooms of the motel.
Santa Barbara police are investigating a vandalism case at the Fiesta Inn construction site after someone reportedly cut electrical wires in several rooms of the motel.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara police are investigating a felony vandalism case at the Fiesta Inn, one of the properties the city ordered owner Dario Pini to repair and upgrade.

The vandalism was reported Friday, and officers found electrical wiring cut in about six of the rooms, Sgt. Riley Harwood said.

Police estimated the vandalism at $50,000, but Pini said it’s twice that, damaging eight months of work that now has to be redone.

“They cut all the wires and all the breakers, everything was finished,” he said.

He’s offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of a suspect.

Since the vandal entered the property with intention to commit a felony, the crimes include burglary and vandalism, not trespassing, Harwood said.

“We do have some physical evidence,” he said. 

The city yellow-tagged the Fiesta Inn at 1816 State St. in April 2014, meaning it was considered uninhabitable while construction work was going on.

The city filed a lawsuit against Pini in 2012 alleging that many of his properties are public nuisances that threaten community safety.

The issues at Fiesta Inn were lack of progress on construction, improper storage and improper disposal of trash, City Attorney Ariel Calonne said.

The Fiesta Inn was supposed to finish construction by November and didn’t, and a notice of violation was issued by the city, he said.

“We’re greatly dissatisfied, not only with Mr. Pini’s response to the litigation process, but also with his response to the special master appointed by the court to enforce against the nuisance conditions he’s created,” Calonne said.

Tens of thousands of dollars in fines have been levied on Pini for the various properties under review.

“Long story short, both the building and safety division and my office are completely fed up, and as I said, we are moving onto more exotic and indeed more aggressive enforcement techniques,” Calonne said.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli 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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