Attorneys for the City of Carpinteria have filed a lawsuit alleging that landlord Dario Pini breached a settlement agreement with the city regarding code violations at several of his properties.
Pini has been the subject of code enforcement and civil court action throughout Santa Barbara County, with a recent settlement in a Santa Maria lawsuit and a receiver appointed to oversee properties in the Santa Barbara case.
“This complaint arises from Dario Pini’s refusal to comply with his obligations,” the civil complaint states. “The underlying facts demonstrate Dario Pini’s disregard for local municipalities’ rules and regulations — and for abiding by the contract which he negotiated and entered.”
A 2016 settlement called for repairs to address code violations at Pini-owned properties in Carpinteria, including the Casa Del Sol Motel and Apartments, 5585 Carpinteria Ave.; the Tomarla Apartments, 1000 Concha Loma Drive; the La Concha Apartments, 974 Concha Loma Drive; and the Sycamore Apartments, 990 Concha Loma Drive.
Pini has since sold the fifth property in the settlement agreement, the Cypress Tree Apartments, according to the court case.
Carpinteria gave Pini time extensions to make repairs, reminders when payments were due, and negotiated agreements to avoid litigation and get compliance, the complaint claims.
“Over the past several years, the Pini properties have been the subject of a prolonged enforcement effort undertaken by the city to gain compliance with local and state health and safety, building and zoning code requirements,” the civil complaint alleges.
“City staff have dedicated hundreds of staff hours and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of public funds attempting to work with Pini to correct these code violations and bring the Pini properties into compliance.”
Carpinteria’s enforcement efforts on the properties started in 2013, and the timeline in the civil complaint includes notifying Pini of the code violations; issuing compliance orders and extensions when violations were not corrected; reinspecting and issuing notices of noncompliance; assessing penalties; Pini filing a legal challenge to the costs; a 2015 settlement with a timeline to correct the continuing violations; Pini’s attorney arguing he was not bound by the settlement because the former attorney wasn’t authorized to sign it; and a year of negotiations leading to the 2016 settlement agreement between Pini and the city.
Pini was instructed to pay $135,000, hire a property manager for apartment properties and a live-in manager for Casa Del Sol, in addition to repairing the property.
Construction deadlines were extended officially in a May 2017 amendment to the settlement agreement, and then Pini was assessed late fees, according to the complaint. Pini owes about $190,000 in late fees, the city’s attorneys allege.
“Therefore, unfortunately, the city finds itself yet again in the same position of continuing to expend time and public resources on getting Pini to comply with a voluntary agreement that he negotiated and executed,” the complaint states. “The current situation, therefore, leaves the city with few options.”
Carpinteria’s case cites breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing resulting in damages, costs, attorney’s fees and other expenses, in an amount to be proven at trial.
It also asks the court for a “judicial finding and declaration that Pini is bound by the 2016 settlement agreement as amended and must abide by its terms,” including paying penalties and attorney’s fees.
A case management conference is scheduled for December.
Attorney Paul Burns, who has represented Pini since 2017, said the case relates to the “beautiful and extensive renovations” at Casa Del Sol.
“We respectfully disagree with the City of Carpinteria’s conclusion that they are entitled to the late fees they are claiming in the suit,” he said in an email to Noozhawk.
Burns said Pini is “well placed to try this case on the merits if it comes to that.”