Code violations displace 40 students in SLO

February 13, 2013

pineForty San Luis Obispo college students lost their housing Tuesday due to health and safety code violations discovered at Pine Creek condominiums at 1185 Foothill Blvd.

After a resident called in a complaint that “the clothes in her closet were getting hot,” fire inspectors found that a loft approved for storage had been converted into a bedroom, according to San Luis Obispo Community Development Director Derek Johnson. The bedroom closet was actually a closet for the forced air furnace and gas fired water heater, which created not only a fire hazard but a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Inspectors also discovered the loft did not have an emergency escape window, a violation of the building code.

A team of inspectors then examined 31 other units at the complex between last Wednesday and Monday and discovered similar loft arrangements. The code violations discovered so far will displace 40 residents. City workers are still yet to inspect four other units suspected of containing violations.

The property owner never obtained permits to convert the lofts into bedrooms.

All but one of the units non compliant with the health and safety code housed Cal Poly students. A Cuesta College student lived in the other unit.

Cal Poly and University Housing received notification of the pending violations on Friday and made plans to house the displaced students. City officials directed the displaced Cuesta College student to contact the campus’s Student Life Coordinator.


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So I actually am a loft resident of Pinecreek getting “displaced” and let me tell you this is complete bs. The closet where the mechanical equipment is housed is huge. I allowed the people to come and inspect my room while I was there because I just thought (like every other resident) that they were doing a public service. Instead they got up there and seemed like they were searching for violations. It was ridiculous. Btw, it seems like everyone is getting about 7 violations at $100 apiece. Dumb stuff like ‘combustibles close to ignition source’, which really means my stuff is within 3ft of the furnace/water heater according to the fire dep. I’ve done many ac/heating installs and this equipment is always next to wooden studs in attics or tiny closets where you have no clearance, and the inspectors always approve it. Even so, it isn’t a big deal to move my stuff out of that area because the closet is big. Or the carbon monoxide poisoning? There are vents in the closet that open to the common living room, not my room. I told them this and they just ignored it and wrote on the violation doc that there weren’t vents for the equipment.

I understand that they are just trying to do they’re job and keep us safe and in legal residences, but this seems unnecessary. These have been here for over 30 years and just now they’re dangerous.

And for those people who say the landlords are cramming us in: i lived in the loft last year and had the option of moving into any other room this year. I declined because the loft is a big room with the largest closet. (but an average size closet now that I have to keep my stuff 3ft away from the equipment)

Lesson learned: never ever EVER let anyone from the government into your home wtihout a search warrant!

This is really an unfortunate. Glad that the students were all ok before somebody got hurt. It is hilarious that these comments quickly turn on the people enforcing the law. I have met the new director and being a long time resident found him to be responsive and considerate of people. I checked the facts which others in this blog did not seem to do. Derek Johnson was not fired, but went to Capitola before coming to SLO. While I certainly do not support everything the city does, it is important that people be accurate rather than reckless with their comments.

Golly, next thing you know, people will be living in crawl spaces, under bridges, in culverts, and in tents next to the creek !

Wait a minute ……

This project was built to reduce parking requirements by design to allow maximum development, ergo “2 bedrooms”. And if the architects follow the rules, the City can’t call them liars. The business model was 4 students in “private bedrooms”. Most of the conversions happened early on and have been there for a long time, and certainly known to the City. They were routinely advertised by real estate agents.

“I’m shocked, shocked, to find out that gambling’s been going on here.”

Nothing new here, the fake surprise and sudden crack down by staff is laughable, because this has been going on for decades. Many homes around CP have been converted to house multiple students. When you can rent a single bedroom or even a closet or garage for $1000-$1500, many people bought the homes for their kids while attending college and then sub let to others, sometimes at outrageous prices.

Many of the two/name apartments around CP are also sub standard or are just cramed with students beyond what is allowed by law.

So Director Dick has surfaced again, this time in San Luis Obispo. When he was in Santa Barbara everyone referred to him as Dick Johnson, even his so-called colleagues. What an @#$%. Daily he would come in at 9:00 am, eat breakfast at work, take an hour to hour and a half bike ride daily, some days go to the gym, come back, shower, then eat his lunch all on the tax payers dime. Oh yes, he would leave by 5:00 or 5:30 at the latest. Then if his kids had events to go too, he would just leave. When projects weren’t done on time he would lay into subordinates how it was there responsibility. I remember at a planning conference in Santa Barbara one of my friends ran into some staff at San Luis Obispo who asked him what he thought and my buddy simply laid out the truth, but yet they hired him. Then he had the cute little interns he would spend time daily trying to impress with his physical abilities and talents as a semi pro bicyclist. And oh yes, he would take days off to go to pro bicycling races. So, when does he have time to actually work? So glad that Director Dick left our area.

Oh and he would make every effort to spend time with any cute customer at the counter, but no one else,

Director Dick was actually fired from the Santa Barbara County for the way he treated employees. As for the Santa Barbara Planning convention, after SLO staff interacted with him they begged the City Manager not to hire him. Looks like they were not successful.

Typical of property owners in SLO: Subdivide, split up, compartmentalize and segment your property into ever-smaller units to take advantage of the swelling demand, without consideration for the health and safety of your tenants. Make sure you jack up the monthly rent everytime you convert a hall closet into a two-bedroom suite! Oh, that water heater next to your bed? It’s a, uh, space heater. The hot water pipe doubles as a clothes rack. I had to jack up the rent $50/month to help finance these improvements.

Ironic that this is coming up at budget time. Now there will be a big push to inspect ALL rental units, not just tri-plexes and above, and charge a ridiculous fee to do so. This will also fund another HUGE bureaucracy with more city staff, a city vehicle, secretary, etc. and benefits for all these new employees. Typical of the city to take a sledge hammer when a boning knife is needed.

That said, the owners are violating the law. They must make the corrections. Anyone guessing what the city will charge in fees and fines? This is like an open wallet!

Maybe the city will let them off if they give the units up for a homeless shelter!

Yes of course it’s all a big conspiracy against your sidekick Steve the Slumlord to take more money from the private sector and fund the bureaucratic machine. Maybe if types like Steve the Slumlord would not pack as many students into as small a building possible without regard to the safety of the occupants, there would be no need for rental inspections.

Funny you mention the budget and represent that there would be a drive to increase revenue. After all it was you and your friends at the property owners association who uncovered the hidden 74 million the city stashed away. Did you miss the 5 million in “one-time” money the city just found for projects like the homeless shelter and skate park?

Speaking of boning, is it the city who is boning the slumlords or the slumlords who are boning the new crop of students each year? Is guess the answer to that one depends on which end of the bone you are on.

Mr. B does not own these condos. Nice try to smear him.

The city has a lot less than $74 million hidden away now because it has been “transferred” as “reimbursable expenses” to balance the budget, year after year.

Just remember that the city’s plan to balance the budget is to raise fees, fines, surcharges, and of course make Measure Y permanent. There IS no contingency plan if Measure Y does not pass and staff has consistently refused to release such a Plan B document despite calls from the SLO Chamber and others.

Do’nt be fooled. These violations have been going on for years but just surfaced at budget time as a justification for more $$.

The story says, “The property owner never obtained permits to convert the lofts into bedrooms.” Sounds like one owner.

Who is the owner?

They are condo. There are probably many owners.

36 units and 36 different owners