SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A well-known landlord and developer is speaking out just weeks after embattled Isla Vista landlord James Gelb was caught on camera using homophobic slurs against elected official Ethan Bertrand.
Edward St. George said the incident has cast a negative light on other landlords who are trying to create a safe atmosphere for students and families.
St. George, of St. George and Associates, owns residential housing in Isla Vista and Santa Barbara.
He said he felt compelled to speak out after seeing a video of the verbal confrontation between Gelb and Bertrand on election night in November.
"Landlords aren't always the bad guys," said St. George. "It's unfortunate what's going on right now, and what we saw portrayed by one of the IV landlords. That was disturbing."
St. George said he has personally worked with Bertrand on a number of issues in the Isla Vista community.
"Ethan is a spectacular human being," he said. "When I saw the video of Gelb tormenting him, I saw beauty in how Ethan handled it.
"Being a landlord is a huge responsibility," St. George continued. "It's not just owning a piece of real estate."
St. George pointed to other developers like Paul Orfalea who he said is trying to give back to the community. "He started a foundation here for the children who grow up in IV. He has donated hundreds of hours of his own time teaching courses out at the university," St. George said.
St. George built an eponymous youth center in Isla Vista which serves as a safe haven for local families and kids.
St. George said landlords aren't "perfect", but he believes many are trying to do the right thing and shouldn't be lumped into the same category as Gelb.
"There's no doubt about it what he did was very wrong, but he maintains his buildings in a good fashion," he said. "It's unfortunate, but it shines badly on all of us."
NewsChannel 3 reached out to Gelb, who had Disturbing the Peace charges filed against him by Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley after the incident, for comment.
Gelb used profanity during the phone call and reiterated the incident was unfortunate. But, also said he does not believe he did anything wrong.
Gelb recently put his 37 Isla Vista properties on the market for $79 million.