Amid COVID-19 pandemic concerns, Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County is doing what it can to remain open and actively serving the local community. Legal services are now being offered by phone.
The nonprofit law firm provides free legal assistance to low-income and disadvantaged residents in both north and south counties.
Michael St. Denis, a staff attorney at the Lompoc office, says due to precautions taken to stop the spread of the virus, courts are closed except for emergencies situations.
And legal issues are still abound in the region, some related to the fallout of the pandemic.
"For example, today I have been helping two different sets of clients addressing housing issues: one in Solvang and one in Santa Ynez," St. Denis said, adding that a colleague was at the same time in Lompoc helping clients. "...some people need legal advice [regarding] housing issues; others are dealing with domestic violence; some are losing benefits such as Section 8 housing vouchers, or having problems with employment/unemployment issues."
St. Denis said that seniors also are experiencing their own set of issues.
"Sometimes people just need general personal legal advice while they are trying to navigate the new normal in the Valley," said St. Denis, a newer resident of the Santa Ynez Valley who has practiced law for nearly 30 years in the LA area. "Our office is open and working hard to help as many people as possible. If for any reason we can't help a person out, we can at least put them in touch with someone who can."
The Santa Barbara office serves South County residents, while the Lompoc Legal Aid office serves Mid-County residents who reside in the Santa Ynez and Lompoc valleys. A third office in Santa Maria office serves northern Santa Barbara County clientele.
For more information and a list of Legal Aid offices in Santa Barbara County, visit lafsbc.org or contact the mid-county office at 805-736-6582.
Corornavirus Photos: Life on the Central Coast during Covid-19 pandemic
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Santa Maria economic impacts
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A hydrogeologist who was laid off last summer from a Santa Ynez water district has filed suit against her former employers, alleging that her boss misused public resources, made her his personal secretary, physically threatened her when she objected, then conspired to force her out after she reported him.
A large adult California Black Bear, estimated to be approximately 400 pounds, wandered into town on Saturday evening.
The following is taken from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department media report for the Santa Ynez Valley patrol.
Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News.
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