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Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Police Appear to be No Match for Drunken Cyclists

Best of Noozhawk 08.10.12 feasts on ABR's Chick-fil-A mess, pays its respects to Matt Sanchez, visits a stripper case and checks in with Willow Springs II

[Noozhawk’s note: Matt Sanchez did not graduate from Bishop Diego High School as had been reported previously. This article has been updated.]

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Motorists and Pedestrians Beware: Fiesta Bike Ride Gearing Up For Sunday

Santa Barbara police officials pride themselves on the efforts that SBPD puts into getting drunken motorists off the streets. Clearly, they’re less successful when it comes to drunken bicyclists. On Aug. 5, an estimated 1,400 of the latter embarked on the annual Fiesta Bike Ride, an alcohol-fueled, 30-mile excursion from the Dolphin Fountain at the foot of Stearns Wharf to Ellwood in western Goleta, and back.

Officially, no one takes responsibility for the ride, which often terrorizes unsuspecting motorists, pedestrians and fellow cyclists in its path, while snarling traffic all over town. Despite the lack of organization, someone managed to create a helpful map of the route, complete with refueling stops at various liquor stores along the way.

Evidently, it’s all too much for law enforcement to handle. Police Chief Cam Sanchez told the City Council on Aug. 7 that officers were outnumbered 100-to-1. Although numerous citations were handed out, few of the out-of-control riders were arrested, Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli reported.

“This is a mess, to say the least,” Sanchez told the council. “They refuse to play by the rules, and they do not take permits out. Basically, it’s a blog invitation; it’s put out to the world, they meet at the Dolphin Fountain and go.”

If only there were a way to find out when the next annual Fiesta Bike Ride will be held, and the route it will take ...

2. Chick-fil-A Controversy Heats Up in Santa Barbara Over Restaurant Plan

Chick-fil-A has found itself in a deep fryer of national controversy after company president and chief operating officer Dan Cathy explained in an interview that he was opposed to same-sex marriage. This being Santa Barbara, you knew it wouldn’t be long before the clucking started here.

As it happens, Chick-fil-A is moving into the old Burger King location at 3707 State St. and was awaiting the Architectural Board of Review’s sign-off on minor changes to its patio seating and landscaping proposal.

Apparently, that was too much for appointed ABR members Gary Mosel, who voted against the changes at the Aug. 6 meeting, and Chris Gilliland and Keith Rivera, who abstained. Although Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli reported that Gilliland and Rivera didn’t explain the reason for their cold feet, Mosel announced his decision was for “political reasons.” As a result, the measure was tabled by the advisory board’s bewildered professional staff.

Proving that the wheels of municipal government can move at lightning speed when a city needs to CYA, Mayor Helene Schneider and several council members immediately condemned the ABR’s actions. They assured the community that, in fact, review board decisions are supposed to be based on design merit and not personal political opinions. Councilman Randy Rowse called for the trio to resign. Schneider said City Attorney Steve Wiley would be sending a “legal communication” to ABR members, reminding them of what they were supposed to have learned during orientation and presumably explaining how they exposed the city to a mother of all lawsuits.

Meanwhile, Community Development staff evaluated the botched operation and determined that they had the authority to grant administrative approval instead of bringing it back to the ABR again.

“We decided that, rather than try and bring it back to the ABR, where maybe they would vote for it or maybe not, we had the authority to approve it, so we did,” city planner Bettie Weiss told Noozhawk.

3. Former Eastside Gang Member Turned Mentor Matt Sanchez Dies

Matt Sanchez
Matt Sanchez

As a teenager, Matt Sanchez established one of Santa Barbara’s first street gangs and headed toward a life of crime. He enlisted in the Marines to avoid a prison sentence, but later served time in a maximum-security penitentiary anyway. He also battled a heroin addiction.

Following his parole, Sanchez saw the light, got himself clean and dedicated the remainder of his life to helping at-risk youth stay off the road he had traveled. He founded the nonprofit All for One Youth & Mentoring Program, whose Hoods in the Woods program takes rival gang members on camping trips in the Sierra, giving them a chance to form friendships as well as get a glimpse of a life beyond the East or Westside.

When he was not working tirelessly in the community, Sanchez could be found at his family-owned Montecito Barbers on Coast Village Road.

Sanchez died Aug. 7 of complications from liver cancer.

Click here for more information about All for One Youth & Mentoring Program. Click here to make an online donation.

4. Man Found Guilty of ‘Pummeling’ Stripper in Carpinteria

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court jury wasted little time returning a guilty verdict against a Carpinteria man who bit and beat up a woman he had hired to strip for him, and then cheated her out of the money he owed her.

Nicholas Robert McCullough, 28, was convicted Aug. 2 of three felonies: battery causing serious bodily injury, a three-strikes offense; assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury plus the special allegation of personally inflicting great bodily injury; and false imprisonment by violence. At the time of the attack, Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli reported, McCullough was out on bail in felony case in Ventura County, which likely will add another two years to his sentence. Sentencing is set for Sept. 10 and the prosecutor says she will seek the maximum term of nine years and eight months.

The victim, who was left unconscious with broken cheekbones and permanent nerve damage, was able to testify in the case.

5. Goleta Planning Commission to Take Up Willow Springs Development Agreement

The Towbes Group’s Willow Springs II residential project will go before the Goleta Planning Commission on Aug. 13 as the agency takes up its development agreement. Last month, the Goleta City Council approved most of the development issues related to the 100-unit condominium project adjacent to the original Willow Springs complex at 60 Willow Springs Lane.

                                                                  •        •        •

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