H-SANTA MARIA

Jan 14, 2011 8:28 PM by Monica Quintero

Santa Maria landlord forced to pay $1 million for unsafe living conditions

A Santa Maria landlord pays a hefty price. He's required to pay dozens of his tenants one million dollars on Friday for unsafe living conditions. A lawsuit was filed against Dario Pini back in 2009.

It was filed by California Rural Legal Assistance, a non-profit law firm, on behalf of 62 of Pini's tenants. They claimed two of his properties had a long list of serious health and safety violations.

The living conditions were dangerous and filthy. An RV tenant, who received a check and wants to remain anonymous, said, "I'm really glad that most of the community can see how much went on and what kind of living conditions there were." She goes on to say, " Problem with the owners trailers leaking sewage and other things like that."

There were also problems with plumbing and electrical issues, wires exposed where children were living. Some residents had no heat and the list seemed to go on and on. RV tenant said, "We would have to pick up the garbage ourselves, the overflow of the garbage containers." Zeke Moreno, Senior Code Enforcement Officer, said, "In my opinion, this is one of the worst that I have personally seen in the city."

The two properties in the lawsuit are both located on the 1300 block of North Broadway. Pini owns the motel and RV park. RV tenant said, "There are still a lot of hazards around here that haven't been fixed." Residents say more needs to be done but in the meantime, more than 60 people are receiving payment from that settlement. They started getting the money on Friday. The checks ranged from around $10,000 to almost $110,000.

Moreno said, "The main goal was definitely one to bring this to the owners attention." The hope is now the properties will be brought up to code. So far, they have not been shut down. Many of those residents still need a place to live.

KSBY News did try contacting Pini through his attorney to get his side of this story. We were told he was unavailable and had no comment. The properties have approved city permits for improvements and are hoping Pini follows through on what needs to be done.

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