Friday, October 19 , 2018, 8:32 pm | Fair 75º


Bill Macfadyen: Mysterious Death May Have Been Tragic Fallout from ‘Deltopia’ Madness

Labor union embezzlement, a 'lucky' freeway standoff, a soon-to-be-out-of-work county CEO, and a Bacara wedding blunder round out NoozWeek's Top 5

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Cal Poly Student Found Dead at UCSB Had Injuries ‘Consistent with Fall’

The Cal Poly student whose body was found floating in the surf at UC Santa Barbara’s Campus Point last weekend may have died from a fall from the Isla Vista bluffs, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department said April 9.

Giselle Ayala
Giselle Ayala

The body of Giselle Ayala, 18, of Santa Rosa, was discovered early April 6, about nine hours after friends last saw her at a party on Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista. The freshman sociology major and her friends had come down from Cal Poly for the annual spring break, brainless blowout known as “Deltopia.”

The exact cause of death is pending toxicology results but Sheriff Bill Brown said an autopsy revealed that Ayala “had injuries consistent with a fall.”

Cal Poly is planning a memorial and vigil for Ayala in the University Union Plaza on April 15.

2. Former County Fire Captain Under Investigation on Suspicion of Embezzling Union Funds

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A former Santa Barbara County firefighter is in the hot seat for allegedly embezzling funds from the local chapter of his own labor union, Santa Barbara County Firefighters Local 2046.

As our Lara Cooper first reported April 9, the suspect, a former firefighter and captain whose identity has not been released, recently was approached with the allegations ... and then promptly retired, preventing an internal investigation.

Local 2046 president Adam Estabrook said the union had discovered financial discrepancies while conducting an audit of its insurance programs, and the union’s insurance director was then removed from the position. A dollar figure was not disclosed.

For the last month, sheriff’s detectives have been conducting a criminal investigation for felony embezzlement of funds.

Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies wrestle a suspect to the ground along Highway 101 near Goleta after he allegedly threatened them with a knife. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)
Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies wrestle a suspect to the ground along Highway 101 near Goleta after he allegedly threatened them with a knife. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)

3. Man with Knife Arrested by Deputies on Highway 101

Highway 101 was shut down for a half-hour at midafternoon April 10 so Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies could subdue a man who had brandished a knife and allegedly threatened them while successfully running across both sides of the busy freeway.

Harley Kelly
Harley Kelly

The suspect, Harley Kelly, 62, of Goleta, reportedly called 9-1-1 from a Calle Real business and made threatening comments to the dispatcher. A sheriff’s deputy responded and held the man at gunpoint while awaiting backup near the northbound onramp from Patterson Avenue.

Rather than surrender, sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said, the man subsequently crossed the freeway’s northbound and southbound lanes to the southbound Patterson offramp — along with a cadre of law-enforcement officers. Hoover said deputies deployed Tasers, fired bean bag rounds and used a baton subdue and arrest him.

Kelly was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer. The freeway was reopened about 2 p.m.

4. Santa Barbara County Supervisors Vote Not to Renew Wallar’s Contract

Chandra Wallar
Chandra Wallar

Less than a month after Santa Barbara County CEO Chandra Wallar turned down a similar job elsewhere, the obviously miffed Board of Supervisors voted not to renew her contract when it expires Oct. 31.

News had leaked in February that Wallar was being considered for the CEO’s post in Orange County, but discussions broke down last month when the Board of Supervisors there balked at her salary proposal of $290,000 a year.

Wallar notified her own supervisors of her decision to decline the job, saying “it was never an issue of wanting to leave Santa Barbara, but more of a desire to end my career in a larger and challenging organization.”

She certainly has a challenge ahead of her now. In a closed session April 9, Santa Barbara County supervisors voted to show her the door.

“Due to the fact that it’s a personnel matter, I’d rather not comment more than what was reported out,” First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal told Noozhawk.

I don’t know about you, but I’d say he already did.

5. Wedding Site Lands Ex-Bacara Owner in Hot Water with Coastal Commission

You can’t blame Bacara Resort & Spa for wanting to enhance its attractiveness as a wedding destination. Unfortunately for the former ownership, in the rush to create a magical locale on a bluff overlooking the ocean, project managers apparently neglected to acquire crucial permits for the venue. Oops.

The California Coastal Commission has levied a $575,000 fine for the work, which included the new wedding venue above Haskell’s Beach, the removal of non-native eucalyptus trees, the addition of grass and wood chips, and the old locked-gate trick to prevent public access to the popular beach.

SB Luxury Resort, an affiliate of Ohana Real Estate Investors and Rockpoint Group, will foot the bill. Both SB Luxury Resort and Bacara’s new ownership, BRS Ventures LLC, acknowledge that the violations were known during the purchasing process.

“Bacara is committed to protecting our coastline and natural resources, and has pledged our full support to local nonprofits that further this mission,” Bacara Resort & Spa general manager Kathleen Cochran said in a statement.

“Bacara’s new ownership group takes this issue very seriously, and is committed to working amicably with the Coastal Commission on a beneficial resolution.”

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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