Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Officials Hosting Meeting on Zaca Fire Wednesday

KEYT (Video)

Zaca Fire Officials are holding a town hall meeting for residents affected by evacuation orders and warnings Wednesday night. Officials say they want to inform the public of the current status of the fire and evacuation plans, in case the fire threats more areas.

All residents are asked to attend, especially those of Paradise, Camino Cielo, Stagecoach, Painted Cave, Rosario Park, Hidden Valley and Trout Club areas.

The meeting will be held at the County Schools Administration Auditorium at 4400 Cathedral Oaks Road at 6pm Wednesday.

Attendees can expect all questions in regards to the Zaca Fire to be addressed.

Supervisor Bearman?

SB Independent/Barney Brantingham:

Supervisor Bearman?: Dr. Bearman, by the way, says he’s thinking of running for the 3rd District county supervisorial seat now held by Brooks Firestone of the Santa Ynez Valley. Other names are being mentioned in Goleta to oppose Firestone, who gives every impression of seeking re-election next year. This will be a hot one.

[Hmm, wonder who else is thinking of opposing Brooks Firestone next year. –Goleta Observer]

Monday, July 30, 2007

Goleta man killed when SUV slams into tree

KCOY (Video)

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY - A Goleta man is dead after his SUV slammed into a tree Monday in Santa Barbara County.

The crash happened just before 1:00 p.m. along Highway 101, about eight miles north of Buellton.

Officers say the 49-year-old man was traveling about 70 miles-per-hour, when the SUV drifted into the center divider.

The vehicle then crashed into an oak tree.

Officers say the unidentified man was wearing a seat belt.

The CHP does not suspect drugs or alcohol played a role in the wreck.

The crash remains under investigation.

Morale at the SB News-Press Goleta Printing Plant

Craig Smith is reporting that "Word is that out at the News-Press' state of the art printing plant in Goleta morale is low. It's July and the employees are still waiting to receive their annual raises."

Goleta Valley Voice Roundup - 7/27

Front Page:
A dream come true
Virgil Elings was first in the water at the Elings Aquatic Center last week, surprising the crowd gathered to celebrate the completion of the project on the Dos Pueblos High School campus.

News Briefs:
City gears up to tackle future
City staff will take another stab at the nearly 200 goals and objectives on its to-do list as it pushes forward with the Strategic Plan the council adopted at the City Council meeting on July 16.

UCSB shops its growth plans
UCSB’s Long Range Development Plan, a strategy that encompasses the next 25 years of the university’s anticipated growth, is in its early stages of review and revision and has been making the rounds in the Goleta community.

In Brief

  • UCSB researcher awarded Fullbright
  • Klein is Rotary president
  • SB accounting firm buys Goleta office building

Sheriff's Blotter
  • Side job pays for bad habit
  • I always go out looking like this
  • Would-be escape artist caught in act
  • Man vs. wild
  • You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here
  • Getting her kicks behind bars
  • Burgled in the 'burbs

Economic forecast sees uptick in valley
The Goleta Valley’s economic growth was slow in the years since incorporation, but there are signs that it’s picking up, according to the 12th Annual Goleta Valley Economic Forecast.

Mayor's report: City gets in the spirit of Fiesta
Your City Council had a very long meeting last week, but monotony was avoided by the absolutely charming Marissa Cordero, Junior Spirit of Fiesta, leading us all in the Pledge of Allegiance and then performing one of her beautiful dances. What a pleasure that was! We have so much talent in the city of Goleta that we are happy to share some of it with Santa Barbara and the gigantic Fiesta celebration.

Sierra Club: The threat to Naples
The development proposal at Naples threatens to overwhelm the rural character of the Gaviota Coast. Naples is a 485-acre ranch two miles west of the urban limit line at Cathedral Oaks that has historically been used for grazing and orchards. It sits astride the railroad and Highway 101 and has about one mile of ocean bluff-top frontage. The developer, Vintage Communities of Orange County, proposes to build either 54 luxury houses on the property or, in another alternative, 72 houses utilizing portions of the adjoining Dos Pueblos Ranch. The total build-out of the larger project is approximately 600,000 square feet.

Letters to the Editor
  • Eyesore in paradise
  • Kudos for water board

Surfing Goleta with a keyboard
Goleta has been known largely for its dirt-side products — walnuts, lemons and the like — but Tom Modugno wants you to know that it’s grown some pretty good surfers, too.

Goleta Scrapbook: The Irvines, from Scotland to the valley
Several members of the Irvine family were prominent in Goleta Valley in the early to mid-20th century.

Strictly Local: It was just what the doctor ordered
When Dr. Lexi Rudd bought Valley Animal Hospital in March, she knew it wasn’t going to be easy. She’d never owned a business before and the hospital had been through some difficult times with the illness and eventual death of its beloved former owner, Dr. Eric Westheimer.

Other articles at at the Goleta Valley Voice website.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Old Spanish Days Fiesta Preview

Its about that time of year when locals head out of town, and out of towners take over Santa Barbara.

For those that are interested, the Santa Barbara Independent has the "Fiesta Preview 2007" for your reading pleasure.

Isla Vista Stabbing Suspect Arrested

SB Sheriff's Department

On Saturday, July 21st 2007, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputies in Isla Vista responded to a report of a stabbing at 6651 Sabado Tarde Rd. When they arrived they found 22 year old Paul Ozhekh, who had been stabbed several times in the back. Witnesses to the attack said the victim and a friend were skateboarding down the street, when they engaged in a verbal altercation with another individual. The victim and the suspect ultimately stood face to face arguing, when the suspect stabbed the victim, and then fled on foot.

The victim was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with two stab wounds, one which had punctured his lung. He was taken into emergency surgery for his injuries.

Sheriff’s Detectives following up on the stabbing were able to obtain the name of a possible suspect, 20 year old David Hartsock of Santa Maria. While conducting a records check of Hartsock, Detectives learned that he was in custody in the Santa Barbara County Jail. Hartsock was arrested by the California Highway Patrol for Driving under the Influence after he crashed his car on the 101 freeway shortly after the time of the stabbing on July 21st.

On Tuesday July 24th, after speaking with the suspect, examining all of the evidence and circumstances surrounding the stabbing, Detectives arrested 20 year old David Hartsock on suspicion of attempted murder. Hartsock is currently being held in Santa Barbara County Jail.

The victim is currently recovering from his wounds. This incident is not considered to be gang related.

Mom Accused of Leaving Kids in Car Says She's Not Guilty

KCOY (Video)

The Santa Barbara woman accused of leaving her twin children in a hot car says she's not guilty. Pamela Dillman pleaded not guilty to two charges of child endangerment. Dillman is accused of leaving her twin boys in her SUV for 45 minutes while she shopped at the Calle Real Shopping Center last month.

MTD Governing Board Gets Two New Members

SB Independent

The cities of Goleta and Carpinteria will each appoint a member to the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District’s governing board, which will increase to seven members from its current five, thanks to a bill introduced by Assemblymember Pedro Nava and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger on 7/20.

County Issues Stop-Work Order on McCaw’s Beachfront Project

SB Independent

County zoning enforcement officers issued a stop-work order on Craig McCaw, ex-husband of embattled News-Press owner Wendy McCaw, to prevent any further vegetation removal from the 60 acres of beach front land just west of the Bacara Resort & Spa, which he recently purchased for $20 million. In addition, McCaw reportedly had dozens of eucalyptus trees — home to monarch butterflies — removed. County inspectors responded to a complaint forwarded to them by the California Coastal Commission, whose enforcement officer contends that McCaw should have first obtained the necessary permits. The inquiry originated with Mark Masara of the Sierra Club, who charged that McCaw’s property is home to such endangered species as the red legged frog. He also charged that McCaw should have applied for a permit before posting “No Trespassing” signs and a guard on the property. County Enforcement Officer Kimberley McCarthy said she’s still investigating whether McCaw needed the permits, and if so, what kind of remediation program, if any, would be required. McCaw bought the property with the intent of building a home there for his current wife and their two children.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Worker Housing Idea

SB Independent

The idea of building new homes that could be sold in perpetuity only to Goleta workers was raised at the 12th Annual Goleta Economic Forecast as an alternative to more traditional affordable housing schemes, which provide housing at below-market rates to low to moderate income buyers. Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Kristen Amyx said the scheme's legality has yet to be explored, and a developer found who is willing to try it out, but she praised its simplicity as a potential solution to the workforce housing shortage.

Freebirds World Burrito Has Been Acquired

SB Independent

Freebirds World Burrito Chain Sold
Original Isla Vista Store Not Part of Deal

While Mark Orfalea, who operates the original Freebirds World Burrito in Isla Vista, continues to run the store he founded in 1987 while he was a student at UCSB, his co-founder Pierre Dube has just sold the chain that he founded after buying the rights from Orfalea. Freebirds World Burrito, the chain of 19 Texas restaurants, which is separate from the Isla Vista shop, has been acquired by Tavistock Restaurants LLC (a subsidiary of Orlando, Florida-based Travistock Group) which plans to add another 40 locations in the southwest. Freebirds features huge burritos built Cafeteria-style using fresh vegetables, black beans, and grilled meats.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

SBNP Opinion: Who will watch the watchers?

Hersel Mikaelian has a letter to the esteemed City Council of Goleta in today's SB News-Press opinion section. (Subscription required to view.)

Congratulations on the good work you already have done. However, many of your supporters are curious about changes that are not being brought about...

Goleta Valley Voice Roundup - 7/20

News Briefs:
City faces $22 million in new suits
The owners of Rancho Mobile Home Park plan to launch several new legal actions against the city of Goleta that could total nearly $22 million in claims.

In Brief

  • Fire on More Mesa
  • E-waste recycling
  • Suicide barrier meeting
Water for new connections reduced
The board of the Goleta Water District rescinded an ordinance Monday permitting the carry over of unused water allocations for new hookups from one year to the next. The decision resulted in a substantial reduction of water available for new connections and development this year and in future years. Following the board’s action, an estimated 160 acre feet of water is available for new connections this calendar year, according to board member Bert Bertrando.

District raises sewer rates
Sewer rates for customers of the Goleta Sanitary District increased nearly 20 percent beginning this month, following action taken by the district’s board.

Sheriff's Blotter

  • Intentional cliff dive could hit student in wallet
  • Oh, that thing
  • Next presidential hopeful
  • Up in smoke
  • Bruised ego, too
  • Cash-filled briefcase stolen in 'smash-and-grab'
  • Scooby snacks
  • So close, yet so far away
  • Garage grenade
  • Midnight mass?
Letter to the Editor: Cooperation worked for San Jose Creek
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper commends the city of Goleta and the county Board of Supervisors, led by Supervisor Janet Wolf, for their recent decision to work with local stakeholders and agencies to incorporate fish passage into the San Jose Creek Flood Control Improvement Project.

Fire danger at eucalyptus grove
There is an area within Goleta city limits that appears to pose a very significant fire risk: the western section of the Santa Barbara Shores eucalyptus grove. My concern is that a fire there could rapidly escalate into a fire storm, which, depending on the wind direction, could result in a conflagration in the adjacent Santa Barbara Shores neighborhood, as well as the Ellwood neighborhood beyond to the east. If winds were blowing from the east, the new Bluffs neighborhood development might be showered with burning eucalyptus leaves.

Goleta Scrapbook: Boom times and land scams
After the second World War, Goleta, sleepy town that it was, awoke to find itself the site of massive amounts of development. The influx of newcomers made it necessary for more schools, roads, and other public services. UCSB was also busy transforming itself from a military base of operations to university campus.

Other articles at at the Goleta Valley Voice website.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ain't No Fleas on Nick Welsh

SB Independent: Once upon a time, Goleta Water District meetings offered the best show in town. That’s if your idea of a good time is watching roosters claw one another to death or pit bulls chomp each others’ necks. Otherwise staid, sensible, middle-aged, propertied, and very white boardmembers could be counted on to lose their collective cool and throw a punch or two. Or perhaps hurl a nameplate at each other. Always there was a free and frank exchange of bodily fluids flying back and forth.

Lawsuit filed in drowning death at Cathedral Oaks

Santa Barbara Daily Sound
By Eric Lindberg
July 19, 2007

A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club in Goleta involving the drowning death of a 4-year-old boy at the club’s pool alleges negligence, wrongful death and willful misconduct on the part of the club’s owners and lifeguards.Jonathan “Yoni” Gottesman drowned on August 15, 2005 while at the club for the first day of a summer camp. Lawyers for the Gottesman family said lifeguards and counselors did not receive proper training and did not watch the camp participants closely enough.

“Cathedral Oaks falsely advertised itself as a safe and secure environment for kids,” said Barry Cappello, attorney for the Gottesmans. “The Gottesmans relied on these misleading assurances, and now their young boy is dead.”

Attorney John Levitt, representing the athletic club, told the Daily Sound he has not seen a copy of the complaint and is not prepared to comment on the case. Cathedral Oaks management also did not have a copy as of yesterday evening.

“I think it would be inappropriate for me to respond to the lawsuit before I see it,” said Julie Main, owner of West Coast Athletic Clubs, which manages Cathedral Oaks and several other clubs in the Santa Barbara area.

According to the complaint filed Wednesday in Santa Barbara Superior Court, surveillance video shows Gottesman being dunked by a camp counselor before struggling and sinking under the water.

“The facts that we allege are true are extraordinarily strong,” Cappello told the Daily Sound. “The video clearly shows the camp counselor aggressively dunking this 4-year-old kid who just barely passed his swimming test a few hours earlier.”

The lawsuit alleges that Gottesman floated face-down in the pool for eight minutes with a lifeguard no more than six feet away and a camp counselor in the water continuing to dunk other kids. Another camp participant noticed his submerged body and called it to the attention of the counselor.

“It was only then that any action was taken to rescue Yoni,” Cappello said. “Improper resuscitation and CPR techniques and equipment were used after Yoni was pulled from the water and there was a lengthy delay in calling 911.”

Gottesman barely passed a swim test earlier that day and the instructor determined he should remain in the shallow end on the wall, according to court documents. However, the lawsuit contends that information did not reach the camp counselors and Gottesman drowned near the middle of the pool.

Two lifeguards, three camp counselors and a swim instructor were on duty during the incident, Cappello said, adding that one of those lifeguards had been fired from another local country club a week prior to Gottesman’s death for being inattentive.

Cappello said he is ready to move forward with the case and will continue to gather evidence in the coming months.

“We feel we have a very strong case,” Cappello said. “...We intend to aggressively uncover evidence by taking depositions. We intend to bring the case back to the District Attorney to review it with the new evidence.”

The District Attorney’s Office declined to pursue criminal charges following a lengthy investigation into Gottesman’s death.

“We have concluded there is insufficient basis in fact or law for criminal prosecution of any single person or of an entity,” District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon, Jr., said in a July 2006 press release.

Investigations into the athletic club by California’s Department of Social Services determined that it did not have a license to provide childcare, according to court documents. The department notified Cathedral Oaks that it was operating a childcare facility without a license in violation of California Health and Safety Code. The club appealed that ruling three times and was denied each time, according to the lawsuit.

Named in the complain are West Coast Athletic Clubs, owners Richard Berti, Richard Ortale, Julie Main and Jim Knell, and camp personnel on duty at the time of the drowning. Cappello said he expects the case to head to trial within a year.

Mobile Home Owners Pay Landlord’s Court Costs

SB Independent
By Martha Sadler
July 19, 2007

Battle was joined in the Goleta City Council chambers over who must pay the landlord’s court costs in a rent-controlled park. When the smoke cleared, residents of the Rancho Mobile Estates each received a bill for $803.72 to cover the $94,000 that landlord Daniel Guggenheim spent fighting a suit in which a tenant alleged pain and suffering from an eviction attempt. The residents, who own and maintain their mobile homes but not the land on which the homes sit, objected that they should not have to pay the costs because the lawsuit had nothing to do with them. Goleta’s mobile home rent control ordinance allows the landowner to raise rents only to reflect actual increases in the Consumer Price Index and operating costs, plus capital expenses.

In a unanimous vote, the council affirmed Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle’s ruling that lawyers’ fees and other legal expenses were a normal operating cost of doing business as a mobile home park landlord. Residents may pay the $803.79 up front or pay $20.38 monthly for the next five years, for a total of $120,000 including 10 percent interest.

At the meeting, Guggenheim’s attorney, Mark Alpert, aggressively tried to convince the council that the rent increase due to court costs should be permanent and not sunsetted once the costs are paid. “We are happy to file a lawsuit in Santa Barbara Superior Court and tell Judge Anderle just what I’m telling you,” he warned. “I want to tell you about the consequences of the decision you are making tonight,” Alpert continued. “Every year you’re going to have a fight and every year you are going to have litigation.” (Alpert also petitioned the court to pass on to tenants the cost of Guggenheim’s unsuccessful federal lawsuit, which challenged the constitutionality of the city’s mobile home rent control ordinance. Anderle rejected that request.)

Clarke Fairbrother — a principal with Newport Pacific Capital Company, Inc., which manages Rancho — claimed rent control resulted in a collective $500,000 annual windfall for Guggenheim’s tenants last year and contended that money should have been Guggenheim’s. Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Goleta is $1,100, Fairbrother said, yet Guggenheim currently receives an average of only $365 from each tenant monthly, plus payments for capital improvements and utilities. Counting court costs as an operating expense “brings rents up to a level a little more fair to the property owner,” Fairbrother said.

Adding court costs to residents’ rent is only one strategy that Guggenheim and his representatives are pursuing in order to, as they see it, reclaim the equity that is rightfully his. In early June, Guggenheim applied to the city to subdivide the park into privately owned plots, with each current resident getting first dibs on buying the space they now rent. Fairbrother said Guggenheim will fight the city’s resolution to first determine via Environmental Impact Report the effect on the city’s affordable housing supply of subdividing mobile home parks. However, Guggenheim’s team has taken no such action yet.

Meanwhile, Newport Pacific has been trying to chip away at the solid wall of resistance to the subdivision plan they have encountered from the homeowners’ association. The management company has set up an “executive board” of six residents willing to explore with Newport Pacific the option of buying their own land, and Fairbrother claimed that 20 additional residents of the park’s 150 spaces have expressed interest. Although Newport Pacific has publicly predicted that virtually everybody in the park will qualify for some kind of financing enabling them to buy their lots, questions about specific numbers remain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Local Fire in County Contained

KEYT (Video)

Firefighters are on the scene of a fire in Santa Barbara which broke out around 2pm today. The fire made a big scare for local residents who identified the smoke in the local area but the fire has been contained after a few hours.

The fire was at 1500 More Mesa near Hope Ranch and has burned 5 acres, according to County Fire Officials. The fire burned in an open field of about 40 acres between Goleta Beach and Hope Ranch.

Fire crew[s] from Zaca fire responded, along with air and hand crew.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Teacher in Court for Sharing Marijuana with Students


A local teacher pleaded not guilty to smoking marijuana with her students. Melissa Dunning appeared in court this morning for her arraignment.

The former teacher is accused of smoking pot with two 14-year-old boys during a tutoring session at her Santa Barbara home. Police say there may have been three different occasions when she did this with students.

Dunning worked at Goleta Valley Junior High School as a temporary teacher.

She faces three felony counts including contributing to the delinquency of minors. She will be back in court next month for her preliminary.


SANTA BARBARA - A former Santa Barbara County teacher accused of smoking marijuana with a couple of her students says she didn't do it.

Melissa Dunning Monday pleaded not guilty to a felony county of furnishing pot to a minor and two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Dunning worked as a temporary teacher at Goleta Valley Junior High School.

Investigators say she smoked marijuana with a 14-year-old student a few times, while tutoring him at her home.

On one occasion, deputies say another student smoked with them.

Judge lowers bail for cheerleader charged with vehicular manslaughter


SANTA BARBARA - A Santa Barbara college cheerleader accused of killing a prominent doctor in a hit-and-run collision could be getting out of jail after a judge lowered her bail.

A judge Monday approved a defense motion and reduced Heather Hulsey's bail.

The amount dropped from $250,000 to $50,000.

Hulsey is awaiting trial on vehicular manslaughter charges in the death of Doctor Ronald Schlensky last year in Montecito.

A couple of months ago, officers arrrested Hulsey at UC Santa Barbara, where she was suspected of being drunk in public.

Hulsey is expected back in court next month.


Bail Reduced for Student in Manslaughter Case
Heather Hulsey to be moved to sober-living facility

Under very strict conditions a Santa Barbara Judge reduced bail for local college student accused of killing a doctor while driving drunk.

Judge Frank Ochoa reduced the bail for Heather Hulsey from $250,000 to $50,000. Bail was increased just last month when the defense convinced the Judge that Hulsey was a threat to society while facing other charges on public intoxication.

Today's bail agreement was under conditions that Hulsey resides in a sober-living arrangement and follow their guidelines.

She has to test daily for alcohol use and surrender her driver's license.

Hulsey, who used to attend Santa Barbara City College, allegedly struck and killed her neighbor, Dr. Ronald Schlensky last July while driving drunk. She will appear back in court next month.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Goleta Valley Voice Roundup - 7/13

Front Page:
Party central, in its dotage
Traditionally a farming town, Goleta has always been the less glamorous sister to Santa Barbara. This was true even in the earliest days of the community, when well-heeled Goletans would take the hour trip south in their horses and buggies or Model Ts to attend some swanky event in SB.

News Briefs:
Organic solar cells, the next frontier
With a discovery made at UCSB’s Center for Polymers and Organic Solids, we’re going to have less and less of an excuse not to go green.

In this plan, locals rules
As part of a “toolbox” of methods for providing much-needed workforce housing in the area, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce is kicking around the idea of a local preference policy whereby local workers would receive priority for housing in Goleta.

Planners get primer in housing
The Planning Commission, minus an absent Ken Knight, got an education in Goleta’s complicated housing situation Monday evening. Advance Planning Manager Anne Wells and Planning and Environmental Services Director Steve Chase gave the Commission the rundown.

Finishing the job
Demolition crews Wednesday took down what's left of a building at Rutherford Street and Dawson Avenue in Old Town that was destroyed by fire in March. The spectacular blaze gutted two businesses, Moore machining and Legend Eyewear.

Sheriff's Blotter

  • Wish fulfillment
  • Almost caught red-handed
  • Feisty female settles civilly
  • Young neighbor glimpses burglars
  • Crackin' wise
  • Heavy handed
  • Sucker punched
  • Another money-saving technique
  • Early bird vandal

Time to trade pints
The local blood supply has again dropped to critical levels for some blood types, and is seriously low for others according to United Blood Services, which serves the Central Coast.

Water board OKs billing changes
Water bills will be higher for about 70 percent of Goleta Water District’s customers from now on following the board members’ approval Monday of a resolution to change the billing structure. The approval came on a 4-0-1 vote with Harry DeWitt abstaining.

Mayor's Report: A time of celebrations
What a show we experienced at Girsh Park on the Fourth of July! The entertainment and food were excellent and the fireworks were superb. Thank you Rotary Clubs of Goleta for a great community service.

A tour of Goleta the Green Land
There’ve been plenty of garden tours on the South Coast over the years, but not in Goleta — until now. Bonnie Freeman, a More Mesa resident, is heading up Goleta Valley’s first Garden Party Tour and Bazaar on Saturday from 12:30-5:30 p.m. It includes six award-winning gardens and landscapes, a green urban farm, and demonstrations of composting, vermiculture, tree planting and water-saving irrigation techniques.

Goleta Scrapbook: Good Land made for hiding
Judge Edward “Ned” McGowan, a portly fugitive from San Francisco vigilantes of the 1850s, reportedly fled south through the Good Land to Santa Barbara disguised as a Franciscan priest to avoid being captured and punished as an accessory to murder.

Strictly Local: He sees product as breath of fresh air
Goleta is home to a variety of entrepreneurs, and Steve Baker has joined the ranks with a practical patented invention: the Dus-T, a T-shirt with a built-in mask that can be tucked away in the neck of it when not in use.
Other articles at at the Goleta Valley Voice website.

Friday, July 13, 2007

SB Newsroom is Signing Off, But Their Fight Goes On

According to a post on their website, Santa Barbara Newsroom will be shutting down its website and calling it quits on reporting online today.

We wish them all the best.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Man Pleads Not Guilty in Fatal Hit-and-Run

SB Independent

A hit-and-run near the Los Carneros exit off Highway 101 on 7/3 killed Miguel Cabrera, a 23-year-old truck driver from Lompoc. Cabrera was standing outside his truck when a vehicle driven by Andrew Swanson struck him, according to authorities. Swanson allegedly fled the scene, but police found and arrested him for felony hit-and-run and for driving under the influence. Swanson, currently being held on $200,000 bail, appeared in court on 7/10 and pleaded not guilty.

For the longer version of this story, see here.

Goleta Water District Votes to Raise Meter Rates

SB Independent

The Goleta Water District decided at a 7/9 meeting to dramatically increase meter rates for many customers, especially those with larger meters. (Customers using less than 800 cubic meters of water per month, however, will pay the same or less.) About 60 residents of the Encina Royale retirement community showed up to advocate payment based on how much customers use per month, but staff and the board insisted that the district's fixed costs made charges based on meter size preferable because the district's income would be less variable.

Goleta Valley Voice Ushers Advertising Sales Rep Out The Door

Craig Smith is reporting that Cristina Wilson, who sells advertising for the Goleta Valley Voice, a Wendy McCaw owned publication, was let go. A part-time employee and the mother of three kids, she is a long-time resident of Goleta.

Wilson actually use to be one of four owners of the Valley Voice. That group sold the paper to Jim Farr who ran it for awhile then ultimately sold it to McCaw's Ampersand Publishing.

Yardi Acquires Sitestuff

SB Independent

Yardi Systems, a global leader in property management software with its headquarters in Goleta, announced on 7/9/07 its acquisition of Austin-based SiteStuff, described as the nation's leading procurement company in the commercial real estate industry.

McCaw Buys Near Bacara... Craig McCaw that is...

SB Independent / Barney Brantingham are reporting that the former husband of News-Press owner Wendy McCaw has purchased 60 acres of coastal land next to the Bacara for $20 million.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Goleta goes back for more - City to seek less money from county in second bid

Santa Barbara Daily Sound
By Colby Frazier
July 9, 2007

Nearly two months after being denied $350,000 in Coastal Resource Enhancement Funds by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, the city of Goleta is set to ask for a slightly less amount at Tuesday's board meeting in Santa Maria.

If the money is approved by the board, Goleta plans to purchase a one acre parcel of land on the Ellwood Mesa known as the Doty property, which city officials say is integral to complete the Ellwood Mesa Preserve.

"I feel very confident that on Tuesday they will approve most of the money we're asking for to purchase this property, which is the last of the parcels needed to complete the reserve," said Goleta City Councilman Roger Aceves.

The city's original request for CREF money was based on a $475,000 purchase agreement with the city negotiated with the property owner. Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone argued this total was too high because the property was appraised at $400,000.

The board voted 4-1 at that meeting to temporarily deny the allocation until further information was available.

Aceves said the city has worked closely with the county since then in order to come to a suitable compromise.

In order to quell concerns that the purchase agreement was too high, the city renegotiated it with the property owner, who agreed to lower the price to $400,000.

As a result of the lower asking price, the city lowered its CREF request to $300,000. The remaining $100,000 will have to be funded by the city.

First [sic] District Supervisor Janet Wolf was the lone dissenting vote in May, and made a motion at that time to give Goleta $250,000, but it failed with a 3-2 vote.

Wolf said she was happy to see the issue back on the agenda.

"I'm glad that they've been working on it and let's hope it passes," Wolf said.

CREF funds are paid out by oil and gas companies as a condition of being issued offshore oil and gas permits. The money is offered as a mitigation effort for impacts to coastal resources.

At the May meeting, the board approved funding for Rincon Park, Franklin Trail, Lookout Park, the Surf Exhibit at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, the Sea Center, Walter Capps Park, the Tide & Seek and Belly of the Whale exhibits at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum and the Seabird Care Compound. The money allocated to these projects totaled $405,305.

Aceves said the Doty property is the missing link of the Ellwood Mesa, at which most of the trails and pathways meet.

"It's a really beautiful area," Aceves said. "It's really used a lot."

The Board of Supervisors meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the Betteravia Government Center in Santa Maria.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Zaca Wildland Fire Information

Zaca Wildland Fire information and updates are available at InciWeb.

Goleta Valley Voice Roundup - 7/6

Front Page:
A question of cash flow
A hearing Monday will be the last chance for members of the public to have their say about propsed rate increases in the Goleta Water District and to deliver written protests.

News Briefs:
Gas Co. looks deep for storage
Southern California Gas Co., in search of storage space for natural gas, has been in our neighborhood, and they’ve been shaking things up.

Sheriff's Blotter

  • It all adds up
  • The water fairies did it
  • 'Blood in, blood out'
  • Nice try, dude
  • Their luck runneth out
  • A compassionate landlord
  • For mega-margaritas?
  • Things that go bump in the night
  • Well, duh
  • The pride of UCSB

In Brief:
  • Total burning ban in place
  • Wanted: cell phone photos
  • New class graduates from Firefighter Academy
  • Low-cost insurance info

Schools of Thought: Water safety is as important as ever
Our county’s beautiful beaches allow families to enjoy boating, swimming, fishing, water-skiing and many other forms of water recreation. Summertime usually involves even higher levels of water recreation, and can be a source of great family fun.

Letter to the editor: A Goleta tea party
At a community meeting on May 22, rate-payers vigorously responded to the Goleta Water District’s recently proposed plan to change its rates. Speaker after speaker demanded that the board rescind its new idea. From across the political spectrum, all were opposed to the concept. An ex-member of the district’s Board of Directors eloquently informed the members that they’d failed to act as proper stewards of the public’s resource. It was a beautiful example of the power of democracy!

An unforgivable act
One day in 1975 my father took me to lunch at the old Pancho Villa on Calle Real and made a painful confession.

A fine 4th
The Good Land celebrated Independence Day with a bang Wednesday, starting with the annual Old Fashioned Fourth of July at Stow House.

‘King John’ More, no prince among men
The man who was known as “the Monarch of More Mesa” was different things to different people. Unpopular with his neighbors, but adored by the local kids, John Finley More arrived in the Good Land shortly after his brother T. Wallace’s gruesome murder in 1877.

Other articles at at the Goleta Valley Voice website.

Checking Local Homes For Dog Licenses

KEYT (Video)

Santa Barbara Animal Control is trying to put a "paw-sitive" spin on getting your dogs licensed and vaccinated against rabies.

KEY News reporter Martha Bull has the details on the door-to-door canvassing program.

Ex-wife released from prison after killing her UCSB graduate student husband

KCOY (Video)

Friday, July 06, 2007
Reported by: Leana Orsua

The ex-wife of a UCSB graduate student who was killed in front of his apartment has been released from prison.

Jerrod Davidson was killed in Goleta nearly three years ago by his father-in-law, Philip Jones.

Jones's daughter Kelee Davidson plead guilty to two counts of perjury and accessory to murder and was sentenced to four years in prison.

She served less than two years.

"Today marks another chapter in the story of Jarod Davidson's murder because as of Monday July 11 that is the anniversary date of Jarrod's senseless and despicable murder," said Senior Deputy District Attorney Darryl Perlin.

Davidson has been ordered not to have any contact with her young daughter.

She maintains that her daughter was being molested by her ex-husband.

A charge his family adamantly denies.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hulsey's manslaugther trial date set

Santa Barbara Daily Sound
By Colby Frazier
July 3, 2007

After nearly a year of court hearings and several delays, a trial date for Heather Lea Hulsey, who is facing numerous felony counts of vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol and hit-and-run, was scheduled yesterday to begin on September 24.

Hulsey has been held in Santa Barbara County Jail since June 4, when her bail was increased from $50,000 to $250,000. The decision to raise Hulsey's bail came after the prosecutor in the case, Senior Deputy District Attorney Arnis Tolks, told the court the defendant was arrested by UC Santa Barbara Police two weeks prior to the hearing for public intoxication.

At that hearing, Tolks told Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa "[Hulsey's] not someone who should be allowed in the community... She's got a severe, severe alcohol problem. I believe she needs to be locked up. I believe she needs no temptation with alcohol whatsoever."

At yesterday's hearing, Mindy Boulet, Hulsey's public defender, requested a bail hearing -- called an OR/BR (own recognizance, bail reduction hearing) -- be held.

Ochoa denied Boulet's request for the bail hearing, saying the request was filed incorrectly.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer, who sat in for Tolks, agreed with Ochoa and called such a hearing a "stall" tactic.

"There are rules and I think those rules need to be complied with," Dozer said. "I think frankly it's an effort to just stall the case, not an effort to settle it, it's a sham."

Boulet called Dozer's statement "completely inappropriate."

"I really take offense to what Mr. Dozer is saying," Boulet said.

Dozer said Boulet could file another motion for a bail hearing, but would have to file additional paperwork stating why the court should overturn its prior decision to raise Hulsey's bail.

After Ochoa set the trial date, Dozer told the court that any prior offers by the prosecution for a plea on the behalf of Hulsey would not be off the table -- a technicality he said was previously discussed by Tolks and Boulet.

Boulet denied any such discussion and acted surprised by Dozer's request to expel any former plea agreements.

But Ochoa said he recalled a conversation with Tolks and Boulet to that effect and agreed with Dozer's statement.

"Whatever understandings that might be out there are off the table," Dozer said.

Boulet was able to get Ochoa to schedule a restitution and settlement hearing for August 20.

Hulsey, who entered the courtroom in a dress and high heels, shackled between two other female prisoners in jumpsuits, will remain behind bars unless someone posts her quarter-of-a-million-dollar bill.

The charges against Hulsey stem from the death of her neighbor, Dr. Ronald Shlensky, who was struck by Hulsey's Toyota 4Runner last July 27 while walking his dog in the 700 block of Knapp Drive in Montecito.

Shlensky died the next day in Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital from what an autopsy report called "blunt force type injuries consistent with being struck by a vehicle."

Hulsey pled not guilty to the charges and told police she hit Shlensky when she reached down to retrieve her cellular phone from the floor of her SUV.

Neighbors found Shlensky bleeding in the street.

During Hulsey's preliminary hearing in March, two of Hulsey's friends said they were drinking vodka with Hulsey at the Montecito Country Club pool in the hours leading up to the incident.

Evely Laser Shlensky, Shlensky's widow, declined to comment on the possibility of a trial.

Dozer told Ochoa the trial will likely run for three weeks.

Rancho Wildland Fire 100% contained


Tuesday, July 3, 6:00 p.m.
The Rancho fire was declared fully contained today at 6:00 p.m., after having burned 482 acres since it started on Saturday, June 30, at 5:56 p.m. Steep terrain, wind, and hot dry weather were all challenges that fire fighters faced, as they battled the blaze. No structures were damaged or lost, and no injuries were reported.

127 individuals remain assigned, who will continue to monitor and patrol the fire. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but is believed to have been either human or mechanically caused.

Anonymous tip hotline: Citizens can submit anonymous tips regarding wildfire starts to sbsheriff.org. Tips can also be submitted by phone to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Detective Bureau at 805-681-4150.

Page Youth Center gets turned around

Pacific Coast Business Times

Five years ago the Page Youth Center in Goleta was in dire straights. The center, at 4540 Hollister Ave., was hobbled with $500,000 in accumulated debt, vendors were anxious about getting paid and few donors wanted to bail out a perceived sinking ship.

Kelee Davidson to get out of prison on Friday

KCOY (Video)

SANTA BARBARA - The ex-wife of a UCSB grad student murdered by his in-laws is expected to be released from prison this week.

Kelee Davidson was sentenced to four years behind bars for being an accessory to the crime and for lying to investigators.

Her father, Phillip Jones, admitted to shooting and killing his former son-in-law, Jarrod Davidson, in Santa Barbara during the summer of 2004.

Jones died of lung cancer in May.

His wife, Malinda Jones, is serving life in prison without parole for her role in the murder.

Woman charged with smoking pot with student makes court appearance

KCOY (Video)

SANTA BARBARA - A judge ordered the teacher accused of smoking marijuana with a couple of her students to stay away from them and their families.

Investigators say 31-year-old Melissa Dunning, a temporary teacher at Goleta Valley Junior High, smoked marijuana with a 14-year-old student three different times in recent months.

They say one time another student was there.

The district attorney's office has charged Dunning with furnishing a student with marijuana and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.


A teacher accused of smoking marijuana with her students appeared in court. Goleta Junior High School Teacher Melissa Dunning was arraigned on three different felony counts including smoking marijuana with two fourteen year old boys and contributing to the delinquency of minors.

Dunning worked at the Middle School as a temporary teacher for about since March of this year.

Authorities say one of the victim's parents suspected her son had be smoking pot when she picked him up after a tutoring session at Dunning's home.

Investigators say this same incident happened on three separate occasions.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley says the parents of both boys believe justice will be served.

Dunning was ordered to avoid all contact with the boys and their families. She will make another court appearance later this month to face charges.

Driver Arrested for Fatal Hit and Run


Police have arrested a man suspected of killing a truck driver a hit and run in Goleta early Tuesday morning.

The drive of the truck pulled over onto the right shoulder on the 101 northbound and Los Carneros. He was outside of the vehicle when struck by a car. He was taken to the hospital after suffering major injuries in the collision and then pronounced dead.

The driver, Andrew Swanson, fled the scene but was later located at a residence and taken into custody for DUI, Felony Hit and Run and Gross Vehicular Manslaughter. His passenger was also taken into custody for not reporting the incident to police.

KCOY (Video)

LOMPOC - 38-year-old Andrew Swanson, of Goleta is in county jail on charges of felony DUI, felony hit and run, and gross vehicular manslaughter.

CHP investigators say he was driving drunk when he hit a man on the shoulder of Highway 101.

The CHP says 45-year-old Miguel Cabrera, of Lompoc, pulled his tractor-trailer onto the shoulder just south of Los Carneros Road around 12:30 Tuesday morning.

They believe he was having mechanical problems.

They say Cabrera was standing near his big-rig when Swanson, in this pick-up truck, hit him.

Swanson didn't stop, but officers tracked him down at his house a few hours later, and arrested him.

Cabrera died at the hospital.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Rancho Wildland Fire

For updated information on the fire that is currently burning on Paradise Road, east of the Ranger Station, visit http://www.inciweb.org/incident/747

Goleta Valley Voice Roundup - 6/29

Front Page:
A hometown 4th
The skies above Goleta will once again be ablaze in honor of Independence Day, this coming Wednesday.

News Briefs:
Council OKs first two-year budget
The City Council voted to adopt its first two-year budget Monday evening, 4-0, with council member Eric Onnen absent.

Midnight fire destroys Goleta mobile home
Several fire crews knocked down a two-alarm fire just after midnight last Tuesday, June 26, at a doublewide mobile home at Rancho Santa Barbara, 333 Old Mill Road. The occupants, two women, were thought to have been trapped inside by neighbors who called 911. The women escaped the blaze, which had engulfed the structure by the time the firefighters arrived. One of the them had a minor injury, which was treated by paramedics at the scene.

GVJH teacher accused of giving pot to student
A temporary teacher at Goleta Valley Junior High School was charged Wednesday with allegedly furnishing marijuana to a student and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Following a nearly month-long investigation, detectives from the Sheriff’s Department presented their findings to Deputy District Attorney Joyce Dudley who filed the two counts against 32-year-old Melissa Dunning after reviewing the complaint.

I.V. apartments to become affordable housing
Two 10-unit apartment buildings in Isla Vista have been acquired by the county to create 20 units of affordable housing.

Sheriff's Blotter

  • It's all a blur
  • Perseverating, '80s style
  • Dehydrated stage fright
  • The devil made him do it
  • Dumb luck
  • On a mission
  • An adventure he'll never remember
  • Class uninterrupted
  • Slim pickins
  • Such poor taste

In Brief
  • Mother arrested on child endangerment charges
  • Driver survives trapped overnight in vehicle
  • Sobriety checkpoint tonight [Friday 6/29]
  • Free hoops clinics offered

Mayor's Report: Budget in, busy times ahead
Another big milestone for your city was reached this week as the City Council adopted its first ever, two-year budget. This year’s budget is balanced with little to spare.

Letter to the Editor: Scale back monster house
We live in an age of extremes, and there is no better example than the monstrosity planned for the top of Farren Road hill. No wonder county Supervisors are having difficulty. Having biked up the hill many times, I have come to appreciate the rolling, sloping nature of the area. The sketch you show is that of a structure so out of tune with the “sense” of the land that it represents an ugly intruder. I can only wonder if the initial approval took place at a wild party with no one knowing this area.

DP grad honored for service
Fatima Mendez, who graduated from Dos Pueblos High School this year, was the recipient of the top honor as a youth leader at the recent Teen Programs annual Youth Leadership Awards banquet.

The Day Tripper: From an egg collection springs a natural treasure
Santa Barbara’s Museum of Natural History has a colorful past that includes several name changes throughout the years. In 1890 professional and amateur naturalists formed the Santa Barbara Natural History Society and opened a museum at 1226 State St. Since those early days much has happened in the area of natural history.

Goleta Scrapbook: Good Land always up for a good time
Celebrations and social occasions were popular in the Goleta Valley from its earliest days, and one of the most popular sites for getting together was Tucker’s Grove, owned first by Capt. Reason P. Tucker and later his son Charlie.

Strictly Local: A career tailor-made to make you look good
Out here in the Good Land we’re known largely as a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops crowd. But sometimes even in Goleta a man’s gotta step out. And that’s where Jorge Larin steps in.

Other articles at at the Goleta Valley Voice website.

Lowest Gas Prices in Goleta
Goleta Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com

Twitters from Goleta