Saturday, July 30th, 2016

Students Forced To Leave Housing After Health And Safety Violations Discovered

Pine-CreekYesterday, 36 housing units were posted for violations of health and safety codes, which may result in the displacement of student residents.  Acting in the interests of public health and safety, the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department Prevention Bureau in coordination with the Community Development Department responded when a resident phoned in a complaint of a fire hazard at the Pine Creek condominiums, 1185 Foothill Blvd.

The resident stated, “the clothes in her closet were getting hot”.  Fire Inspectors found that a loft originally approved for storage had been converted to a bedroom. The “bedroom” was accessed via a “ship’s ladder” and the clothes closet was actually a closet for the gas-fired water heater and forced air furnace, both of which were consuming air from the sleeping room, a significant life safety hazard. These conditions raise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, asphyxiation, or fire.  In addition no emergency escape/rescue windows were present in these rooms as is required under the Building Code. 

At the time of inspection and in the interest of occupant safety, each loft occupant was directed to discontinue the use of the loft for sleeping or living purposes.

Inspectors were advised by residents that other units in the complex had similar modifications and the Fire Department teamed up with the Community Development Department.

This team initiated inspections of the 32 units on this property on February 6, 7 and 11. To date all but four of the 36 suspected condominium units have been inspected affecting approximately 40 individuals. The four remaining units are expected to be inspected in the next few days.

All inspected units were found to be in violation of health and safety codes and all affected non-compliant “bedrooms” housed Cal Poly and one Cuesta student.  Under housing law, the landlord is financially responsible for addressing code violations and to cover any temporary housing or relocation costs as result of the substandard housing violations.

36 units have been posted with a Notice of Violation meaning that students must immediately vacate unpermitted and unsafe loft “bedrooms”.  A review of City permits shows no indication that any permits were sought or approved for the conversion of lofts to “bedrooms”. It is unknown how many students may be displaced at this time.  Some students may be able to relocate into permitted bedrooms within a unit that are in conformance with the Housing Code.

City officials notified Cal Poly and University Housing on Friday about the pending action and they have made all the necessary preparations to house any displaced Cal Poly students. This action highlights close cooperation between Cal Poly University Housing and the City of San Luis Obispo.  Cal Poly and City of San Luis Obispo place the safety of students and residents as a number one priority.

Cal Poly and City Staff are making every effort to help the transition of all affected Cal Poly students to be as smooth as possible since the impacted students will have to relocate immediately from the loft space.  Fortunately, all Cal Poly students affected by this off-campus apartment situation can be safely and comfortably accommodated in one of Cal Poly’s on-campus residence halls.  

Residents in the City of San Luis Obispo who need to report or have questions regarding unsafe housing conditions are requested to contact the Community Development Department at (805) 781-7180.