An Assault on Our Lives

(Courtesy Photo from the Santa Barbara Tenants Council)

By Robert Bernstein

Greetings to my loyal fans. I wanted to check in and explain my absence from posting.

What would you call it if someone caused you to lose your home of 31 years through no fault of your own? If that person disrupted every aspect of your life and cost you large sums of money?

That is what has just happened to my wife and me. A new owner bought the apartment four-plex that I have lived in for 31 years in Goleta. They claimed they were not going to raise the rent; they just wanted to make things nice for the people who lived here. They asked if there was anything we residents needed and we just mentioned a few small things like legal mailboxes and recycle bins that didn’t fill up before they were collected.

Well, in a matter of a few weeks they tried to raise the rent quite a bit. But there is a new state rent control law, AB-1482, The Tenant Protection Act of 2019. It limits how much an owner can raise the rent on a tenant. They seemed shocked that they were limited in how they could treat the residents.

Unfortunately, there are two huge loopholes that are big enough to drive a truck through. One is that the owner can claim that renovations are planned that are so major that it will require the tenant to completely move out. The other is that the owner can claim that they are planning to make your unit their primary residence. They don’t have to offer any proof. They just have to make the claim and then they can throw you out. It does not matter that it may have been your home for decades and that the owner has just bought the building.

We are in total survival mode right now. Trying to sort and pack 31 years of belongings. And trying to find a new place to live in an environment that is very different than how Goleta was in 1989. When I inherited the place from a good friend who was moving away. And when the owner was a sweet older couple who lived in one of the units.

Some have said that this is just the risk one takes as a renter. But that is not true in civilized countries where renting is normal for most people. Yes, I could have bought a place years ago. But I had no interest in the “American Dream” of home ownership. I just wanted to have a pleasant place to live and not be thinking of my housing as a profit center.

Does it seem fair that one can pay enough to have bought the building over the course of 31 years, yet someone has the “right” after a matter of weeks to take all of that away?

All of my life I have worked for social justice and for a more perfect world for everyone. I am not used to being on the receiving end of social injustice. I very much appreciate all of the kind words and offers of help from strangers and friends alike.

And I am happy to report that there is a new organization forming called the Santa Barbara Tenants Council that will be organizing on these issues. But it may be a marathon effort to achieve justice. Not soon enough for us or for at least one of my best friends who is in the same situation.

Here is their new Facebook page:

I could say more, but mostly I just wanted to explain why it may be awhile before I have time to post much for my column here on Edhat.

As you may know, I have a new column this year in the Montecito Journal and I may write something there as well. Thank you again for your understanding and I look forward to being able to have the time and resources to write here again.


Written by sbrobert

What do you think?


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  1. Robert, you admit that you could have bought a home, but made a conscious decision to not buy a home. You can now freely move to another rental as other adults do. You lost me when you called the choices you’ve made for 31 years an “injustice”. We all have to grow up sometime.

  2. Robert,I’m sure a lot of folks here can relate to your plight.I hope you don’t have to leave.You get to go and take pics with people in places that were me and my buddies extra large playground in the mountains and backcountry and you have been my connection for that now that I can’t go anymore myself.Hope you can find a place in the area and continue exploring.

  3. After 35 years of occupying an office in downtown Santa Barbara, as well as making $300,000 worth of improvements at my own expense, a wealthy investor owning more than sixty downtown properties bought the building and raised rents from $2/s.f. to $8.60/s.f., essentially evicting everyone. I had two months to find another site. You don’t have to look far to see this happening here at home as well.

  4. Please don’t bash him…I am a renter…have owned over 6 homes, in my lifetime.
    Bought here, in Santa Barbara, top of the 2006.
    Got cancer…went into for closure…
    Was mortified….
    Have been a good tenant…6 years, now 2 years…it is hard being a renter…been lucky to communicate, pay on time.
    But the neighbors, all know you are renters.

  5. Santa Barbara Housing Authority has many, many low-income housing units for seniors in this town. Give them a call. Get on the waiting list. Subsidized senior housing is known for its higher turn-over. Much faster movement up the waiting list for subsidized senior housing in this town. SBHA has made living easy in this town for qualifying seniors – huge inventory and multiple options. Everyone needs to take a lot at the SBHA website to learn what we are already doing for our aging in place residents.

  6. Yes. Robert is now, through his own admission, living “The American Dream” of being a renter. It’s a risk you take, when you could’ve bought a home and didn’t. My Mother always used to say “What good is a shoebox full of rent receipts?” I’ve had friends in Santa Barbara buy brand new cars, have that extra kid, take very expensive vacations . . . Then, because they “chose to rent” instead of buy, well—–I told you so. Not that being a homeowner/landlord is without its pitfalls. As my one friend said, “Renters . . . UGH.” (I have one now who owes me $4,000. Just lucky to get that deadbeat out when I did in mid-April—-**Thank you, Covid-19**.)

  7. Robert, I don’t know you, but have seen you riding the same bus as me from Goleta. I’m sorry you’re going through this. However, it’s the shock and fear right now, and no words can ease the pain. You will find another place soon…maybe a transitory spot and then onto another for a better move! Go forward! Don’t look back!

  8. Sorry you need to move. Im not trying to be harsh, but the new owner has rights and expectations that tenants will pay fair market rent.
    I’m sure they gave you proper notice of 60 days when you refused to pay market value rent.
    I am also having a hard time with your blaming not being able to work because you were given a notice to move. Many people move and still go to work.
    And your stmt, “ Some have said that this is just the risk one takes as a renter. But that is not true in civilized countries where renting is normal for most people”.
    Anytime a person pays current value for a Property they expect to get current rental values.
    Over 60% of America are renters. You’re not the only one that has to move because you do not own your own. You said yourself, you chose to not buy even though you could have.
    You should be glad you were paying under market rents for so long and you didn’t put a down payment down to buy. Hopefully you saved that money since you were living below market value. Be happy you saved all that money over the 31 years.
    It’s also troubling that you don’t recognize that a new owner had to pay current market value for the property and needs to make an income off their investment.
    The person should be mad at, besides yourself for not taking control of your home by buying, is the old owner. Their cost basis was much lower and could afford to not raise your rents to market value. If they gave the property away for what they paid 31 years ago they could have stipulated to not raise your rents. But they didn’t and you didn’t ask them to.
    This new owner may do the same thing for new tenants. They may be a great land lord just as yours was. Just because you don’t like paying market value rent, don’t get mad at them.
    What is also troubling is that the new regulations force propertyowners to raise the rent every year to protect their investment.
    An income property is only worth its cash flow potential. If there are rent caps a land lord has to raise the rent every year to protect the value of their investment which means every year your rent go up unlike the old days where you stayed at under market rent until the property sold.
    Please don’t blame others for something you could have prevented and something for which you’ve been underpaying for years.

  9. Robert, I’m really sorry about your plight and misfortune. Having been a long term tenant typically makes you an asset to most landlords but all to often the Gordon Geckos of the world come in and strip the place bare and leverage it to the hilt to boost profits. It sucks your elderly landlords needed to sell and sold to such a profiteer. Alas you’re now in the same boat most SB renters are in who live in properties that have changed hands in the last 20 odd years, properties saddled with debt that old timey rents just can’t cover. Something’s going to break, it has to ‘coz a just and healthy society cannot afford to turn everyone to the streets who can’t afford to pay exorbitant fees/rents but aren’t paid fair wages. Best wishes finding something decent and affordable.

  10. If the “owner” of a property loses his right to raise the rent, remodel or renovate the property, or occupy the property, then I think the tenant has effectively taken ownership of the property. Challenging the concept of property ownership raises a number of interesting questions. If you owned a vacant house, would it be worth the risk of renting it to someone if the renter obtained the right to live in the house for life paying below market rent? How would that situation impact the availability of rental housing? How would the value of your house be impacted if prospective buyers didn’t have the right to evict a tenant in order to move in? Would a property owner be entitled to have his property tax assessment lowered to 0 if his property was rendered unsaleable and worthless because a long term tenant refused to move out? Alternatively, would a tenant become responsible for paying the property tax if they effectively take ownership of the property?

  11. Wait until renters wake up and find California voters passed the current “split roll” attack on Prop 13. All commercial property will get huge property tax increases, which naturally will be passed on to the renters. Are landlords greedy asking for market rate rents, or are tenants greedy when they demand under-market sweetheart deals?

  12. “but the new owner has rights and expectations that tenants will pay fair market rent.” New owner should have considered the laws when they bought about how much you are allowed to increase rent. Renting in this town is TOUGH, but in the short term at least, it’s still cheaper than owning. The cost to buy a house is higher per month than renting. Over the long term, you can make out. But I can say that we’ve owned our home for over 15 years now and monthly rent on the place would STILL be less than our mortgage + prop tax. I’m not sure when the break even point is, but it’s probably closer to 30 years.

  13. Robert, I hope that your many friends and acquaintances in town will help connect you to a decent rental. I agree, our system of home ownership as a profit center is whacked. Most Californians are so used to the system, we can’t see how it could be any different. And yet, as you say, in other countries people still find it worthwhile to be landlords, despite renters having more protections. Obviously our version of real property ownership is not working well for the majority of citizens, especially in Santa Barbara. I used to think I wanted to own a place with a rental unit, but the numbers have never worked out. And it is true that if one buys now, one would have to charge obscene rents just to make ends meet (unless one had enough cash up front to put down a 50% or more down payment, which is not feasible for any but the already-very wealthy). I guess I can be thankful that I had unpleasant rental experiences early on, which pushed me to buy a modest home three decades ago. And of course the housing market, both for rent and purchase, just keeps getting more out of line with incomes. The stress of being a renter in this environment can not be good for the health of our citizenry.

  14. I have no idea what his monthly rent was, but average rent in Goleta is just over $2000/mo, so let’s use that. Over 31 years that’s $744,000. 31 years ago you could have bought a home in Goleta for less than that, and today it would probably be worth double or triple, which if you sold it and retired somewhere with cheaper home prices you could buy another house without financing and have a lot of money left over to live on. That’s called an investment. Furthermore, with a little bit of thought you can expense many things such as home and car payments if you can justify it as an operating cost for a home business, etc. There are some people who plan for the future, and others that don’t. Robert threw away three quarters of a million dollars and has nothing to show for it. This should be a lesson to everyone, particularly in this gig economy. Do not pay to have food delivered when you can get it yourself, or just cook it. Do not Uber when you can drive yourself (unless drinking). Do not pay for stupid cosmetic upgrades for your videogame character. Technology today makes it so easy to give away your hard earned money and have zero tangible items to show for it. Ownership is security, plain and simple.

  15. Robert, I am very sorry and wish you the very best luck in finding someplace you and your wife like! You ask, “What would you call it if someone caused you to lose your home of 31 years through no fault of your own? If that person disrupted every aspect of your life and cost you large sums of money?” I would call the situation, “housing reality”, especially in desirable locations. I am not sure there are many places now in this country which provide rent stability, without having that rent move up (rarely, if ever down) with the “fair” market value. I am not sure how the new owner cost you “large sums of money,” unless you’re referring to the rental prices you’ll have to pay for housing similar to what you’ve had. But, whatever, really good luck!

  16. Housing has become exceedingly expensive because the government has restricted development. Homes used to be very affordable in this area up into the 1970s when heavy handed restrictions on new development were implemented. However, you can still always buy or rent whatever you want if you can afford the market price. If you take away the right to build, prices will go up. Similarly, if you take away the ability to charge market rent, availability will go down. For example, if a law were passed that limited rent to no more than $1000 per month there would no longer be any rental housing available. Rent control will make things much worse! The solution is more development, not more regulation.

  17. CSF –
    As an alternative, you can play the investment card. If Robert’s rental was perhaps $500/month on average under market rent since the year 2000, and each difference was placed into the stock market, that amount would be worth $302,000 right now.

  18. I didn’t see Robert saying he didn’t have any investments, or that he didn’t have money, or he was broke. The landlord is forcing him out – claiming there are improvements so significant that he must leave. He’s been living in the same spot for 31 years, he’s a senior, and the rental market is tough. I moved my parents after they had lived in the same place for 31 years and belive me, it was not easy sorting or moving a life long of accumulation. Hold your pathetically FOX news sheep judgments – certainly you yourself will be judged one day. Take your high and mighty attitude and eff yourself. This used to be a website was about community – then the trolls took over.

  19. I’m sorry to hear of Robert’s troubles, and I can imagine it is very painful and stressful to have to move. People do understand that when a building is sold, the costs to the new owner are NOT the same as they were to the prior owner, right? Property tax base goes up wildly. New buyer probably has to pay a mortgage (a building someone bought 31 years ago may have been purchased for a very low price and long since paid off). Landlords don’t just go around trying to sabotage people’s lives. Yes, there are some bad ones. I am growing very tired, though, of the idea that landlords should provide housing as a charity case. It is wildly expensive to maintain housing between taxes, mortgage interest, premiums, insurance, and so on. Robert would know that if he had ever been a property owner. I would cut off my left arm to have been able to purchase property in Santa Barbara 31 years ago. My husband and I would certainly be living much better than we are now, as costs have truly shot up.

  20. TREE: You’re conveniently ignoring the fact that Robert admits, himself, that he chose not to own. Nothing stopped him from paying that monthly rate to the bank as opposed to a landlord. Same check, just addressed to different entities. Had he given his money to the bank he would have acquired equity. A house in Goleta 31 years later, given the insane escalation of home prices in CA, would have netted him a very nice profit and he would be enjoying that right now rather than complaining. Unless there is something he didn’t add to his article, I really don’t see how he was prevented from taking advantage of ownership.

  21. Thanks for sharing. The difference seems to be that our housing stock has just about as low a vacancy rate as is possible, even despite high rents. Our retail and commercial on the other hand has very high vacancy rates. So clearly the price gouging on commercial rents is not working out well. The market will bear the cost of housing, on the other hand.

  22. Okay, here’s a great time to address a few shortcomings of our education system. The primary focus of high school education should revolve around surviving in the current world. Priorities should be in personal finance, such as avoiding predatory lending with credit cards and other loans, in addition to learning to budget expenses, and then personal health, such as nutrition and hygiene.

  23. Apparently, to the pestilential band of con commenters that have invaded Edhat over the last couple of years, money is the sole measure of importance in life. In their view, a sense of home and community don’t matter. People can just move somewhere else, since they’re only interchangeable cogs in the money machine, there to be exploited.

  24. CHEMICAL – really dumb comment do you have kid? My kid get that learning at home. He excels above and beyond in math and science. Why bore him? Should he not have a chance to excel? That sounds rather socialist.

  25. Freak. I don’t need to ignore it. Many people decided not to buy. I don’t see him complaining about finances but you chose that narrative. Also, being a senior and having to move during a pandemic. You seem to conveniently have missed most of his post.

  26. I do think basic financial literacy should be taught in schools, because many kids have parents who are financially illiterate, so they won’t learn money sense at home. But I don’t think that pertains to Robert’s current situation, or renters in general. Homeownership is not for everybody, for many different reasons.

  27. Robert I am so sorry that the new owners are being so unreasonable. Try to hold it together. I am sure, that with the help of Edhat readers, you will find a new home soon. I, too, am also a renter, by choice/preference. I’ve always thought of a housevas an endless money pit. My parents owned a lot of income property all over L.A. and I can’t tell you how it ran our lives. Then, growing up in a 3-bedroom house, I swore that I would never want to own a house. It’s just one big headache. Endless cleaning and upkeep (mowing , raking , dusting, plumbing, heating, ac, roofing, tenting, kitchen remodel, bath remodel, powerwashing, painting, on and on. It’s just not what I value or the way that I want to spend my weekends. Thing is, today, Santa Barbara’s got an inordinate number of retired seniors living ALONE in a large house (the American Nightmare) And, now, in their senior years, they have to get out there and do ALL of that upkeep on their own or pay someone they trust to do it. And, this only happens if they have the spare cash to make repairs/improvements on their limited income. I know this is true because I’ve heard it from many, many friends, again and again. They say, “You are so lucky that you rent! I wish I’d never owned this property!” Sending out good rental vibes to you, Robert! Hope you find something reasonable that you can call Home Sweet Home!

  28. Too true, but I think it unfortunate (and unnecessary) to rub salt in wounds. I doubt that’s what anyone here intends to do but one thing I’ve learned over the course of life is be open to learning from even the more difficult and painful of situations. Sometimes the harder, the more painful the lesson, the more learned. And to not expect that others will see things as I do, but when they do, yay!

  29. @Generaltree-
    I have empathy for Robert here and his predicament and I understand it sucks to move. I take offense at the second half of this article that doesn’t understand economics and is super entitled stating that he shouldn’t have to move because he’s lived in someone else’s property for a long time. That is the life of a renter and it is a choice that is made.
    He has saved on upkeep and taxes and insurance that whole 31 years. Those “rent vs. buy” calculators provide solid math on the benefits of renting and dumping the savings into the market, the downside is stability, being forced to move, and lack of control over property. I don’t appreciate my generation being called entitled when I see the kind of complaint that is provided – not to mention there are lots of manufactured homes that sell in the area for sub $400k or even sub $300k…

  30. Sorry to hear of your situation. If your rental is below market, the owners have less money in their pocket, so you can have more money in yours. Fairness depends on perspective. If you look at CAP rates locally, I doubt they are making tons of money on this new investment either. Ownership is risky too.

  31. There are many reasons that the “American Dream” is of home ownership. You’ve just learned on of the big ones. You somehow feel that you have a right to live on that property simply because you have for so long. The world doesn’t work that way (nor should it). If you are a good tenant you have the right to negotiate with the owner a price for your continued use that you are mutually agreed to. Nothing more. If you are not a good tenant the owner can/will do what he can to discourage you from staying.

  32. I’m sorry for your situation. But yeah, this is the risk you take as a renter, as balanced by the risk others take in lashing themselves to home ownership with a 30-year mortgage. Not many renters have a 31-year rental run.

  33. I can’t believe the comments on here [some]. My family were LL’s for YEARS in New York [Queens]. We had a tenant who lived there forever, basically until the property was sold. They NEVER raised his rent. He was a great tenant, kept the place up and even did his own repairs. It was a great relationship. I could just as easily say if you can’t afford your property without a renter then don’t buy it. It cuts both ways. So yes people can do what they like in our capitalist society – charge their high rents, do what they want with the property, all of that, but at what cost? Greed versus humanity. This is what our society is now, hence all the problems we are seeing. Lack of humanity. Entitlement. The rules only apply to me [I can buy a property I can’t afford without renters], but not to you [too bad for you that you didn’t buy property]. Total lack of soul.

  34. I’m sure there is a world in which there’s a reasonable midpoint between selfish renters who trash properties, squat, and bail owing money and selfish landlords who try and squeeze absolutely every penny out of their properties without any regard for the fact that human beings live there.
    I prefer to live in the middle, personally.

  35. What are the names of the new owners? Not for harassment, but to keep our eyes on them to determine if they do what they say they will do.
    By the way, a house of your own would’ve been good and would be paid for by now, but I understand many people do not want that ‘burden’ of home ownership; I held off for years and rented. However, ownership has worked out for us, our home is now worth at least twice what we are paying for it which will stand us in good stead in our final years.

  36. Save your money for a down payment and buy a home. It’s not too late. It is housing security for you and your wife if you do not fail the mortgage payments and yearly property taxes. Your expenses will be stable for the rest of your life. Condos and mobile homes are cheaper but have monthly fees that a free standing home does not have. Learn to do your own maintenance to save money. Internet is a great teacher as are old fashioned books. A thorough house inspections (required) first, tells you if the roof or plumbing is new or needs replacing soon ( major expenses). Don’t forget all these maintenance costs are built into the rent. You do not have to think that owning a home is for flipping for a profit. Home ownership is for your own security as you are discovering the hard way ( this is a horrid experience for so many renters. It’s heart breaking as many are the hard working poor who have no time, money or often language skills to hunt for new housing). Inflation, as you know, happens over time. A landlord who bought an apartment building 40 years ago has low taxes ( Prop. 13) and can keep rents low if s/he wants to. Buy 40 years later at 1000 Xs that original cost and you have to raise the rents to meet expenses. The larger your down payment, the lower your monthly mortgage will be. You can be a homeowner and still be a good and just person. You can even will your home to the Housing Authority and stipulate that it be for low income housing in perpetuity. Good Luck, Robert. You will land on your feet. I’m sorry you are finding out first hand the trauma that many go through multiple times in their lifetimes.

  37. “Inherited the place from a good friend” -didn’t actually find the place himself. ” the owner was a sweet older couple who lived in one of the units.” -the rent hasn’t been raised much, if at all, in 30 years. “a new owner bought the apartment four-plex, in a matter of a few weeks they tried to raise the rent quite a bit” -someone came along with the cash to buy the property, and is now looking to raise the rent to the current rental market rate. Title of commentary “AN ASSAULT ON OUR LIVES”. Ok.jpeg. I don’t feel sorry for the guy at all, this is not a “social injustice”, this is LIFE. Though I do admire the luck he had in keeping a residence here in town far below what everyone else is paying, for that long.

  38. Regarding the “the pestilential band of con commenters”, could it be that, instead of people believing that money is the sole measure of importance” is it possible that those commenters are instead advocating for being self sufficient and not whining for a handout when things don’t go their way? Is ignoring the fact that money is a tool while relying on others to gofundyou or provide a government handout or in this case, an entitled sense of property owners owing it to residents to keep the rent below what everyone else is paying now some kind of societal aspiration?

  39. I taught mine, too, but I wouldn’t say that most parents have the background I have. It wouldn’t take but a semester or 2-quarter course to explain the pertinent information to the dullest high-schooler, and a workbook comparing the prices of credit card debt on a purchased item with its cost at time-of-purchase would make a lasting impression, perhaps save a world of hurt.

  40. Check out housing in smallish Mid-western towns. Much, much cheaper and unless you are using the cultural offerings or the ocean, as a retiree, very pleasant and great community resources, for instance senior centers that offer both transportation and meals! (And frankly, the weather isn’t bad most of the time and they aren’t burning down forests.)

  41. Could not have said it better myself, thanks SantaBarbaraObserver. Robert- if our current real estate laws in CA are not to your liking, what is your solution? I’m guessing from the tone and content of your post that you would lean towards a fully state-controlled real estate market. If you take some time to study the history of countries who have attempted that type of policy, you’ll find that they were extremely unsuccessful time and time again. You were born in a country with such abundant opportunity, more than any place on earth… its really too bad that you didn’t take advantage of that at least to some small degree, enough so that you and your wife could’ve avoided this unfortunate and scary situation you are currently now facing. Please take the advice of other posters on this thread and take advantage of resources offered to seniors by the SB Housing Authority.

  42. I think people are jumping to conclusions here. I suspect that if the new owners had said up front that they would be raising the rent substantially, Robert would have adapted quite well. I don’t see that he is asking for handouts. It’s just a bit jarring to be told the rent wouldn’t go up much, and then be told of a huge increase with little notice.

  43. I have to say, as a native Californian and a 38 year SB resident that I’m really SICK of hearing people suggest that we move to another place if we can’t afford it. It’s literally heartbreaking to those of us who are not wealthy and do not own homes to be evicted like this. It happened to me, and it was not only disruptive and hellish, but terrifying. My entire life was uprooted because a wealthy company bought out our sweet little cottages and kicked us all out and tripled the rent. The same thing happened to us, they promised no one would be kicked out, they asked us what we would like for improvements, they LIED. It’s happening all over because too many homes are “investment properties” and not single family owned homes. I feel awful for the author and his wife. And NO, we should not suggest that long-time locals with roots, jobs, family, friends and history here in our town should move to the midwest or somewhere cheaper, we should figure out how to help those in our community who weren’t so lucky to get to own a home. Not everyone got a great start in life with financial advice or the ability to make smart decisions.

  44. GENERALTREE, thank you for being one of the only compassionate voices of reason on this thread. This man’s life is in upheaval and I know exactly what that’s like. The rental market here is abysmal and it’s just not right. There are many of us who are long time locals and natives, and just because we aren’t rich doesn’t mean we should have to lose our rights to live here. One of the problems I see in this story is that the new landlords LIED. They said they would not be raising rents and acted as though they would keep things tenable for the tenants, then they booted them all. I’ll be joining Robert at the tenant council meetings, and from the majority of the comments on this thread, it seems we are in dire need of a tenant’s rights organization.

  45. Isn’t it nice how so many people here are condemning Robert for not buying when he ‘could have’. I tried very hard to buy something here, even a condo or a mobile home, for years, and I never could get my foot in the door for one reason or another. Once it was down to $1,000. A measly $1,000 was all I needed to qualify, but I couldn’t raise it and I was passed up, even with excellent credit and a wonderful job. Other times, other buyers swooped in and offered more. Then after the 80’s things just shot right out of the stratosphere and I couldn’t even dream of qualifying for a home. Now it is just unattainable for a single middle-aged person alone to buy unless you have liquid wealth. It’s a damned shame. I’m a local and a native. All these priviliged people commenting about how you “have to grow up sometime” or “you could have bought but you chose not to”, well, walk a mile in another’s shoes before you point your finger. I would have given anything to buy a home here, and I TRIED, desperately. It’s an awful situation for many people, and not because they didn’t try really hard.

    We are in survival mode right now and I don’t have a lot of time to answer every comment, but I have read them all. A few key points and clarifications:
    1) We were not given the option to stay at a higher rent. We are being forced out. That is what is terrifying.
    2) For those of us who have lived in Europe we know this is not normal there.
    3) It is very expensive to be forced to move. Especially on short notice. This, above and beyond the cost of a higher rent at a new place.
    4) Just because something is current harsh “reality” does that mean it has to stay that way forever?
    5) Yes, there are market forces that make prices rise over time in a desirable place. But those are not the only forces. The US is the ONLY country in the world that subsidizes home ownership with the mortgage tax deduction. Renters do not get that benefit and end up paying for that subsidy. And the entire legal system is set up to protect “property rights”. Renters pay for that legal system that is not their friend.
    6) There is an entire universe of regulation between outright state control and the Wild West. What we have is the Wild West.
    7) Building “equity” is not just about money paid on a mortgage. It is about a web of connections that people have in a community.
    8) As BIGUGLYSTICK noted, we were lied to at every moment by the new owners. There is no legal recourse for that.
    9) The original sweet couple died 26 years ago. Their family sold it to a landlord who indeed raised the rent over the years and treated it as a business. I can deal with that. That is different than throwing someone out who might be willing to pay an increased rent. The sign held by the woman in San Francisco at the start of the story says it well. Does anyone think that what happened to her is acceptable?
    Thank you again for those of you who offered supportive and thoughtful comments. We appreciate it very much.

  47. I don’t know you too well Robert but from what I have seen here and heard you are a great person who have helped many others. I wish that alone would qualify you for a better life. Many of us are in the same boat at the mercy of our landlords. The negative comments don’t help but some people feel better about themselves putting others down ignore them, I hope you find something soon.

  48. It is ironic, and sad, that you so well understand what an expensive and burdensome undertaking owning property is, but you do not seem to grasp how all of those costs and that time could translate into landlords needing to raise rents. You call them “unreasonable” and then proceed to list all of the expenses and headaches that come along with maintaining housing. You seem incapable of synthesizing a coherent worldview in which those responsibilities translate into rent that increases over time. Renters who claim they do not want to own a home due to the “hassle” do understand that as part of their rent they are paying someone else to manage the hassles for them, right? Or have we lost touch with reality here entirely? It seems the latter is a pervasive mindset on EdHat, with people accusing the reasonable majority advocating for personal responsibility as being “a pestilential band of cons”ervatives, as Mac put it.

  49. Thanks Bigugly-I find once you piss some people off on edhat they have a tendency to down vote anything commented on ,good or bad.The weather is pretty nice so snow flakes melt fairly easy. Iv’e said it here before, downvotes are a badge of honor,so keep em’ coming.

  50. I’m so sorry this happened to you and your wife, Robert. When you get settled again, please resume your photos and videos about the wonders of Santa Barbara and the people who live here. They bring such joy into my life.

  51. CHEMICALSUPERFREAK ” However you calculate it, Robert would have more money right now in pocket had he not given his money to the landlord. Renting, which I’ve done, is always terrible for the renter.” — this is ONLY true because we are talking about 31 years. Trust me on this one. We bought our house more than 15 years ago. My calculations are that we are WAY in the hole. Add up mortgage+prop tax+home improvement costs, subtract tax benefits. If you compare that to what rent was when we bought and what it is now, we are worse off. At some point, I’m sure there’s a break even point. We haven’t seen it yet. The cost to rent our home monthly is STILL less than mortgage + property tax.

  52. Interesting how the Ayn Rand Institute, that bastion of Screw You Market Capitalism, has taken a large PPP bailout, and is using their pretzel logic to justify it. They’ve apparently dumped some tenets of their philosophy so that now they solely champion the Screw You parts.

  53. It’s too often all very sad and difficult. But the downside of the freedom to move around this country is that there is no “right” to live in any one place. The small city (“town”, in today’s parlance) where I grew up, a working class type of town but with middle and upper income levels, got “discovered” and many of the working class either had to move out or discovered that their properties were worth a lot of money, relatively speaking, and chose to take the money and move. …It has now become something it wasn’t before. That could be also the story of Santa Barbara and also Goleta. Even though I was lucky enough 25 years ago to buy a small house in a then poor neighborhood, I don’t think I’d choose to live here now, with the huge costs associated with buying a property now. Yes, tenants have rights but so do property owners. It’s a constant grind of one against the other when there are “issues”.

  54. So for various reasons, including not wanting to turn your home into a profit generator, and having someone gift you a comfortable and likely cheap residence, you lived in the same place for 30+ years, knowing that you are a renter and not an owner and knowing the difference between the two, you decided to write this Op piece? Everyone who rents knows they’re only renting, they’re not owning. We understand the difference when we enter into the rental agreement. And now you’re going to have to move to a different place and pay comparable rent (because the place where you live has consistently raised the rent, right?) and its an ASSAULT ON OUR LIVES? As far as the old lady used for extra sympathy in your original tantrum, I would hope she too, understood the difference between being a renter and being an owner, regardless of the time of residence.

  55. Just like an LL can ask for references tenants should be able to as well. Check up on the LL, ask the previous tenant what their experience was like. That way bad LL’s will be rooted out and no one will rent from them.

  56. Very sorry for your loss Robert. It must be life shattering to go through the loss of your apartment and the community and life you built there. Many of us in the central coast area spent much of our lives sacrificing to pay mortgages, maintain whatever home we could afford, pay ever increasing taxes, etc because we were frightened to see what could happen to us as vulnerable renters. You have confirmed our fears.

  57. The pursuit of money does not equal the pursuit of happiness; we live in an area where this simple truth is often forgotten. You’ve been a good citizen and a wonderful contributor to our society, Robert. This should not have happened to you or to anyone else who has lived in one place for so long, duly paying their rent on time. Seems to me that the new landlord should have cherished you longtimers as opposed to evicting you–you were the proverbial bird in the hand. This is so heartless.

  58. Therealbebe – Over twenty years ago, we were looking for a duplex, so that my parents could move into the other side, should they need help in their old age. Our brilliant realtor (who came here from Mexico with 35 cents in his pocket and passed worth $Millions) said “why buy only two units, why not three or four?” We took his advice and bought four units. And, no, our tenants don’t pay all our mortgage and expenses, but they certainly help. I don’t know why more renters don’t get together and buy such properties for themselves…..

  59. Even as a homeowner, “you can’t take it with you” in death. It’s not really your place in that sense – you’re a trustee/caretaker for the next owner. But, there is a certain sense of security in knowing that if you pay your taxes and mortgage, maintain your property and insure it against loss and liability, it likely won’t be taken from you. Robert, perhaps you should have considered a military career. Base housing is provided and moves are paid for.

  60. Thank you, Robert, for additional information. I’ve met you and can tell that you are no fool and not a “poor me” type. In this tight rental market landlords should have to give much longer notice to good tenants. Best wishes to you.

  61. 8:30 A.M. More regulation you say? There is major regulation currently, with ever more laws that are anti-landlord pro-tenant coming down the pike. It is already at the point that many “mom-and-pop” landlords are selling their rental property as it is no longer feasible for them to offer rentals. Under new “Just Cause eviction,” “rent cap,” ” mandatory lease,” “relocation payments,” etc. laws, tenants in essence own the property, while landlords pay the mega bills.

  62. I have been a renter for most of my adult life, so I empathize with Robert – moving sucks, particularly when you are being forced to. Had I had the opportunity at any time, I would have bought something. I’ve done the math and what I’ve paid in rent over the last 20+ years could have easily paid a mortgage. Wouldn’t it have been great if I had bought a duplex, and had MY OWN renters to pay it off?! What a waste to be paying for someone else’s property when one could be putting their money toward equity in something of their own. Sure, I guess it’s cheaper to not own a house/condo/etc. but in exchange, THIS is the risk that all renters face. As comfortable or attached as we may be to a property, in the end, it’s only temporary. Calling it an “assault on your life?” I understand your angst, but this is FAR from an assault. It’s just the way that it goes. I know the two of you will find an amazing new chapter and hope that you discover a way to be positive and excited for it. Sometimes it takes upheaval to get to the good stuff. All the best.

  63. Robert so sorry for your situation. MOVE is a 4 – letter word isn’t it? Just a note, there are 2 new apartment developments going up at Patterson and Calle Real, altho they won’t be ready for at least a year. The SB Housing Authority has a 7 yr waiting list, so forget that.
    Also, interest rates are at an all time low so there is still time for you to turn around and become a homeowner. As you probably know the vacancy rate here in SB County is below 1% so you might have to consider Lompoc or Buelllton. I hope that you find something in this town because you have contributed so many beautiful photographs and you are a credit to the community. You will find something. Keep your chin up. Encina Royale is a lovely senior community in Goleta near Fairview for over 55’s and has some of the most reasonable condos in the region.

  64. 12:50 – What a chauvinistic view. By several measures, like level of democracy, overall health, prenatal care, elder care, housing, education, infrastructure, carbon footprint, support for science, arts & culture, and general welfare and happiness, there are many countries that equal or exceed our metrics.

  65. If someone buys an apartment building or other rental property, it will be priced as if the landlord will be able to extract market-based rent from it. The new owners will have to rent out the units at that rent in order to not suffer cash-flow problems, as they are often highly leveraged.
    Often, people have sweet deals with landlords who have owned properties for decades and can rent them out to longtime tenants at below market rate prices while still covering their costs and making a profit. Frequently when such properties get sold the new landlord has to raise rents to cover their now much higher costs, which of course puts serious hurt on those longtime tenants.
    Robert, I know this is not really applicable in your case since your new LL sounds like he or she is just a jerk. I hope you land on your feet.

  66. Greed is on display here, too. Yes, Isla Vista is empty now. But landlords have not lowered rents at all. They are sky-high. Landlords seem to prefer to keep prices high even if it means properties go empty. The same thing happens on State Street.

Injured Swimmer Rescued from Red Rock

Goleta City Council Approves General Municipal Election in November