Noozhawk has reported extensively on the revolting scourge of sex trafficking, which is a larger problem in Santa Barbara County than most of us realize.
My friends in the Junior League of Santa Barbara have done heroic heavy lifting on the subject, opening a residential therapeutic program for underage survivors, S.A.F.E. House Santa Barbara, in what seemed like the blink of an eye.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley has developed a multiagency strategy that is not just making an impact locally, but throughout California as other midsize counties follow her leadership.
I’m excited to announce that, for the third year now, Noozhawk will be helping to host Pedal the Pacific as its team of college-age women cyclists rides through Santa Barbara County in mid-July.
Their 1,700-mile trek — to raise awareness of sex trafficking and funding for The Refuge Ranch outside Austin, Texas — gets underway in Seattle on June 8 with an expected finish in San Diego on July 22. You’ll be reading more about their adventure in the coming weeks.
Next week, however, you can do your part to help by participating in, or donating to, the 20th annual State Street Mile. The June 2 run down State Street between Pedregosa and De la Guerra streets is a benefit for the District Attorney’s Office’s Victim Witness Assistance Program, which includes survivors of trafficking.
The run is fun for the whole family — including dogs — and is an entertaining spectacle for spectators. Click here to register.
Speaking of spectacles, this week’s Best of Bill column is more of a “Best of Josh” column as our Josh Molina was the reporter for the first four items. I expect he’ll be asking me for a raise or a bonus or something, but I’ll see if I can get him to bite on a lunch date instead.
According to our Google Analytics, Noozhawk had an audience of 124,061 readers this past week, and what follows is my take on your Top 5 stories. Please note that this is an opinion column, not a news story, and, boy, do I have a few opinions this time.
“Everybody” seems to have a beef with Chick-fil-A, but the fact remains that it’s consistently rated as the top fast-food restaurant in America, as well as one of the best places to work.
What’s its secret?
A menu loaded with #bestofbillrecommendation chicken choices dipped in Sweet & Spicy Sriracha or Honey Roasted BBQ sauces.
Quite a few Santa Barbarans agree, which is why — several times a day — the Chick-fil-A at 3707 State St. has a line of cars backed up into the street from its parking lot.
A handful of people have complained — but for the right reasons, of course. Nothing to do with company policies, oh no.
Rob Dayton, the City of Santa Barbara’s transportation planning and parking manager, agrees the traffic backup is a “longstanding” congestion and safety issue, but acknowledges “there isn’t much we can do.”
In fact, “congestion” was a concern when the restaurant finally opened in 2013, but city staff figured the Chick-fil-A novelty would wear off. Besides, cars are driving on borrowed time anyway, right?
Wrong on both counts.
City Councilman Eric Friedman was more blunt about the city’s situation.
“We are in an unfortunate predicament because it is a legal nonconforming use,” he told our Josh Molina. “If it were permitted today, we wouldn’t have permitted a drive-through.”
Chick-fil-A isn’t standing idly by. In a statement, franchise operator Carol Ruiz noted that “we frequently implement ‘face-to-face’ ordering in the drive-through to help move guests through more quickly and efficiently, and we recently installed and implemented curb-side delivery to expedite this process.”
Noozhawk World HQ is now, literally, right around the corner and I drive past Chick-fil-A a couple of times a day. The backup is not a lengthy inconvenience, at least no more so than a Santa Barbara MTD bus sloppily stopping in the turnout in front of the nearby Jack in the Box or in the actual street as buses must do at the next stop, just east of Ontare Road.
As I see it, the city miscalculated the width of Outer State Street, probably long before the reign of Burger King, the previous occupant of the Chick-fil-A roost. The vehicle lanes are narrow, and are the bike lanes really as broad as they should be?
No doubt, the city’s “solution” will be making State Street one lane in each direction and flanked with the idiotic “buffered” bike lanes that have made a mess of East Cota Street. Anyone want to bet me a dozen Chick-fil-A Nuggets on it?
Miner’s Ace Hardware nails down a deal for the old Orchard Supply Hardware store in Goleta. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
Late last year, Lowe’s Home Improvement closed its Orchard Supply Hardware stores at 125 N. Fairview Ave. in Goleta and 1950 S. Broadway in Santa Maria.
After months of not that much speculation, our Josh Molina has reported that Grover Beach-based Miner’s Ace Hardware is moving in to the vacated building in Goleta’s Fairview Shopping Center.
Founded in 1956, the family-owned Central Coast chain operates stores in Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Los Osos, Morro Bay, Nipomo, San Luis Obispo and Santa Paula.
And not only will one hardware outfit follow another, customers will see some familiar faces when the store opens next month. Among the new employees is former OSH store manager Serena Hollingsworth.
“I am beyond excited to be a part of what Miner’s has to offer, which goes far beyond the other places I have worked when it comes to helpfulness,” she said. “It is like being helpful is part of Miner’s DNA.”
I see you. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
Some of the most enviable ocean views in Santa Barbara can be found on the Mesa, which is why it sometimes seems rife with strife among neighbors.
One such case involves a renovation project at 1199 Harbor Hills Drive, which initially was denied by the Single-Family Design Review Board because of a deck that was proposed within 15 feet of the front yard setback.
The deck would provide the homeowner with sweeping views of the ocean and harbor, but would be about eight feet from the setback and would overlook the neighbor’s front yard.
The denial was appealed to the City Council, which on May 14 reversed the rejection on a 5-2 vote. Mayor Cathy Murillo and Council members Eric Friedman, Oscar Gutierrez, Meagan Harmon and Randy Rowse voted for the reversal, with Council members Jason Dominguez and Kristen Sneddon dissenting.
Project architect Paul Zink said the deck impacts are minimal for the neighboring front yard, which already is visible from the street and in public view. He also noted that the renovation would be reducing the overall mass of the corner house off La Coronilla Drive above Cliff Drive.
Next-door neighbor Jeanne West was not buying it.
“The side and front does come very close to my property and it does concern me, not just now but for resale in the future,” said West, who is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
Zink maintained that the circumstances would be different if the setback intrusion overlooked a private backyard.
“The owner has expressed a desire to be outside, have orange juice, drink coffee, watch the morning sunrise, look at the water,” he said. “That is what we are trying to create.”
At least for now, owner Ben Howland would only be doing that part time since he’s currently the head basketball coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs — 2,061 miles away in Starkville, Miss.
Howland, who coached the UCLA Bruins to Final Four appearances in 2007 and 2008, was an assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara early in his career and was a star player for Santa Barbara City College in the mid-1970s.
Aside from the hoops-la, I know Howland as the childhood running buddy of my close friend, Paul Yarbrough, who ceaselessly reminds me that they were inseparable at the Goleta Boys & Girls Club and, later, at Dos Pueblos High School.
The point being it’s a small world after all.
Signing off. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk file photo)
After nearly seven years as principal at San Marcos High School, Ed Behrens was unceremoniously dumped last year by the Santa Barbara Unified School District. Many parents rallied to his defense, but the district stood firm on his demotion and reassigned him to teaching social studies at Santa Barbara Junior High.
Not surprisingly, Behrens sued the district for reinstatement and back pay, claiming he was terminated illegally.
Also not surprisingly, a judge ruled against him.
“The procedure for removing a principal is simple; it does not require a finding of cause and may be based upon no more than a personality conflict, and does not entitle the affected administrator to a hearing,” Superior Court Judge Pauline Maxwell wrote in her May 9 ruling, explaining the very nature of an “at-will” employment contract that had covered Behrens.
Also also not surprisingly, Behrens’ attorney — Leila Noël, a partner at Cappello & Noël LLP — disagrees. She says an appeal will be filed.
Interim Principal Richard Rundhaug is wrapping up his time on the San Marcos High campus, and a permanent principal, Kip Glazer, starts July 1.
But not all the way there.
We’re no further along than we were this time last week when it comes to prying useful information out of authorities about the late Francisco Anthony Alcaraz Jr. and the circumstances of his demise. Of course, Santa Barbara police Chief Lori Luhnow and Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown still aren’t talking either.
Team Noozhawk is diligently working the story and should have an update next week.
The reasons I care about this are the same reasons you should. As I stated last week:
» Backed by an armored Bearcat, Santa Barbara police SWAT swarmed into a densely populated, low-income apartment complex in broad daylight May 7 to serve search and felony arrest warrants authorities acknowledged were “high risk.”
» Alcaraz, a convicted felon wanted as a suspect in an attempted murder, opened fire on police officers and died in the subsequent shootout.
» 2,100-student San Marcos High School, directly across South Turnpike Road from the Positano Apartments, at 11 Camino De Vida, was placed on lockdown for three hours.
» Authorities shut down Highway 101 in both directions between Santa Barbara and Goleta, causing a massive traffic jam for tens of thousands of people well into the evening commute — even though the apartment complex is below the crest of the hill separating the neighborhood from the freeway.
The fact that Alcaraz is dead is all on him. His final choice, like so many others in his 32 years, was the wrong one.
But the rest of this? We — meaning the public — deserve to know why these choices were made. And the public — including elected representatives like Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart and the Santa Barbara Unified School District trustees — should be demanding those answers.
Something about this operation was ill-conceived, and shame on us if accountability is allowed to escape.
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Last Year on Noozhawk
What was our most-read story this time last year? UCSB Student Found Dead in Cold Spring Canyon, an Apparent Suicide.
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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week
Why do we forget what we’re doing the minute we enter a room? Why Do We Forget What We’re Doing the Minute We Enter a Room?
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Best of Bill’s Instagram
You know I’ve been obsessed with the #bigbeareaglecam, but keeping an eye on the bald eaglets in not one but two late-season snowstorms has been must-watch webcam video for me this past week. It’s in my Instagram feed.
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Is destroying stress balls just as satisfying as squeezing them? Uh, yeaaaah.
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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk and Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.