News that lofts in the Pine Creek condominiums were declared a “fire hazard” left 25 Cal Poly students in a state of uncertainty, and a difficult financial situation, as they struggled to figure out new living situations this past week.
The San Luis Obispo Fire Department’s Prevention Bureau first inspected the condemned condominiums after receiving a call from a student who noted that her clothes were hot in her closet, San Luis Obispo Fire Marshal Rodger Maggio said.
Upon inspection, the department realized the apartment’s water heater was hidden in the closet, and the condominium’s loft sleeping area was only accessible by ladder. There was also no “escape window” in the loft area, which is required by law in the event that a firetruck ladder needs access to a room.
After discovering these fire hazards, the bureau inspected the rest of the complex and found similar living situations among the converted-loft condominiums, Maggio said. The department then issued a condemnation, meaning the lofts must be evacuated until the fire hazards are removed or fixed.
This will force 25 Cal Poly students out of the complex, most of whom are now attempting to find separate lodging, though several still remain uncertain about whether they must leave the premises. The displaced students were offered on-campus housing as soon as news of the condemnation was released, but not all of the students desire to live on campus.
Cal Poly graduate student Jeff Massman, who lived on campus for three years, said he does not want to live there again. Instead, he plans to find a place close to campus.
“The whole situation really sucks because I’m four months from graduation,” Massman said.
A large part of Massman’s desire to stay off campus is because of the “steep rent” housing charges, he said. Like many displaced students, Massman was unsure whether or not he would be financially responsible for lodging on campus, or if it would be the responsibility of the condominium’s landlord.
According to Madgio, the question of financial responsibility for the impromptu housing is between the tenants and landlords. Because each condominium is individually owned, the various leases have different regulations when it comes to who will have to pay.
Massman’s landlord is giving him two months’ rent, a small amount of money for utilities, as well as his deposit back to pay for new housing. Massman said he thinks this is a fair deal.
But other tenants have not been so lucky.
Industrial ngineering junior and Pine Creek resident Raana Radfar said her only information on the condemnation has come from the fire department’s notices.
“We talked to our landlord when the signs were put up but she didn’t know very much at the time and she hasn’t gotten back to us,” Radfar said. “Since then it has mostly been rumors from other residents.”
Radfar has not been informed when she has to move out, how long she would have to vacate her room or the financial details of the situation. She also remains uncertain about where she will live during the renovation period.
Her decision varies depending on how long she would have to vacate her room and whether or not her landlord will reimburse her rent, Radfar said. If the renovations would take less than a month, she would try to live in her living room and share her roommates’ rooms, she said. Moving out would be a last resort.
“It’s not something I want to deal with,” she said. “I don’t have time to move out and pack my stuff and I definitely don’t have time to look for a new place to live.”
Despite the inconvenience, Radfar said she does think the condominiums can easily be put back up to par with some quick fixes.
“I can see how some people would think it’s unsafe,” she said. “I chose to live up here, so I knew what I was getting into as far as the ladder (in the loft). The water heater is a little sketchy and I feel like there could be some modifications to make this room a little more safe.”