SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara is beefing up its legal team to take on multiple ordinance violations that have been overwhelming, until now.
The city council has been told no complaint will go without a response.
The priorities will be safe housing, nuisance behaviors, short term vacation rental laws and consumer protection.
It's a process that's months in the planning mainly because of budget issues.
The city's plan on violations now will include inspectors from several departments. The list was presented recently to the council.
"We have hundreds of illegal short term vacation rentals. We have 84 illegal short term vacation rentals primarily entire units operating in that tiny area," said Anna Marie Gott to the city council. Gott researched her numbers based on vacation rental ads and other sources.
She claimed those units should be for local residents and workers.
The new Assistant City Prosecutor, Danny Wei from the City Attorney's office made a presentation with a three person team last week. He said, "we go to the property and we point out what the violations are. Then we clearly define what needs to be done."
There are 373 open enforcement cases now. 248 are vacation rental. 37 are criminal prosecutions. "To handle, review, enforce every single case that comes to our office. That is our priority," said Wei.
He promised to treat everyone fairly.
It takes only minutes to find violations if you know what you are looking for at this point.
There are many citywide.
At a sign saying "no dumping" near Mission Creek off De la Vina, there's a pile of belongings that has grown throughout the day on Monday. It includes electronics, leftover paint supplies, plumbing parts, a bike, a lawn mower, and bags full of discarded items.
One resident said the enforcement should be in part based on how egregious it is. Like street vending.
Stan Holder, a local resident said, "It's touchy is it a donation or a sale? You can ask for a donation or you can if you put a price on it but that is a no-no."
He says last December he was given a smoking in public ticket but is disputing it claiming the signs were not up informing the public of the ordinance, and he never got a warning. Holder also says the ticket had errors and should have been disqualified.
Since then, the city has invested in multiple no smoking signs.
One homeless camp has been moving around the blocks near Laguna, Gutierrez and Palm streets for weeks.
In the last few days they say they've received five citations.
Last week the possessions were covering a sidewalk and some were in a tree.
"I have a war to fight they threw me out here on the streets," said Dave York where he sat with others on Laguna Street up from Gutierrez. "I am going to be in their face. I am going to cost them money like they cost me money. They've lied to me, stolen from me and screw it what have I got to lose, throw me in jail what do I have to lose? Throw me in jail. Big f - ing deal."
He plans to got out of state for a family matter this week. His dog Mary that affectionately came over during a talk with NewsChannel 3 licked his face and added comfort to a tough situation.
York said he once had a vehicle to live in and a storage area. He no longer has storage and the vehicle was impounded. York also doesn't want to go into a local shelter to rebuild from his current situation.
It is an example of what the council wants to curtail.
"It's a double wammy, it is a double win," said Council Member Jason Dominguez. "Not only are you making the neighborhood safer, that are visitors and residents, but the people who are committing the nuisance behavior and lack the wherewithal to make the right decisions."