The City of Santa Barbara and local landlord Dario Pini have settled a code enforcement lawsuit filed by the city last year, and the result of the settlement means that about 100 commercial and residential properties he owns in the city will be under court-ordered operation and maintenance for at least five years.
Pini was served with a civil lawsuit last November, in which the city stated that his properties are “public nuisances” that threaten the community’s safety.
Court documents detailed numerous alleged violations at Pini’s rental properties, including people packing into living spaces such as kitchens, balconies and even into a crawl space under a house to sleep; “infestations” of roaches, human feces and urine; and even documented areas being used for prostitution.
Pini and city officials, particularly those in code enforcement and the City Attorney’s Office, have been locked in a cat-and-mouse game for decades, with detractors calling on officials to do more to regulate his properties, which they say are poorly managed, filled with code violations and packed with too many residents.
City Attorney Steve Wiley has even called Pini a “scofflaw” in terms of abusing the city’s pemitting to process to pack residents into properties too small to accomodate them.
Pini’s attorney, Larry Powell, did not immediately return calls for comment to Noozhawk about the terms of the settlement.
On Tuesday, city officials sent out a statement saying that the court has ordered supervision of the operation and maintenance Pini’s properties in Santa Barbara through a court-appointed “special master” who will act on behalf of the court.
Stan Roden, a former district attorney, is a mediator with the court’s Dispute Resolution Program, and will be serving as the special master of Pini’s properties.
The judgment states that Roden will remain in this position for an initial period of five years, and will have the authority to require regular meetings between the city’s code enforcement staff and attorney’s office as well as Pini and his property managers to review the state of the properties.
“The special master can also recommend that the court impose additional civil penalties if it is determined that any of Pini’s dwelling units or buildings are not being properly maintained or there are any new violations of the Municipal Code or the state Uniform Construction Codes,” the statement said.
Pini was also ordered to pay $35,000 in civil penalties to the city.