Saturday, August 18 , 2018, 2:36 am | A Few Clouds 68º


Local News

Bill Macfadyen: After Years of Futility, Does Goleta Finally Have Its Target Acquired?

NoozWeek’s Top 5 uncovers an accused scam artist in Montecito, pulls the plug on a fleet of E-scooters, and wraps up with two wrecks — including one involving an alleged wrong-way drunken driver

Kmart Click to view larger
Is Kmart opening the door for a moving Target? (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

In a week that saw the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup, a geriatric jockey ride Justify to the Triple Crown, the leader of the free world lavish praise on a genocidal dictator, and the FBI’s inspector general expose the law-enforcement agency’s top brass as manipulative political hacks, who had money on Target coming to Goleta in the never-gonna-happen pool?

Me either.

While we all wait for a red bullseye to be painted on Kmart, however, Noozhawk readers were akin to a herd of shoppers stampeding after an old blue-light special. According to our Google Analytics, we had an audience of 125,323 of you over the last seven days.

What follows is my take on the Top 5 stories you were reading. This is an opinion column, and I have a few.

1. Target Submits Preliminary Proposal to Take Over Kmart’s Goleta Location

Fueling wary excitement among shoppers throughout Santa Barbara County’s South Coast, the long-elusive Target has plans to take over and remodel what is currently a Kmart store in Goleta.

After years of dashing the hopes of local Target fans, the Minneapolis-based retailer suddenly could have not one, but two stores within a few miles of each other. Later this year, a small-format Target is expected to open in Santa Barbara’s old Galleria at 3891 State St.

But that’s not what’s important now.

On June 11, our Josh Molina broke the story that Target had submitted to the City of Goleta a preliminary application stating its intentions for the Kmart site at 6865 Hollister Ave., just east of Storke Road and Camino Real Marketplace.

Kmart, a unit of Sears, has been steadily shrinking over the last several years. The discount retailer apparently will be surrendering the Goleta building, although calls to Sears were not returned.

According to documents presented to Goleta’s Building and Planning Department, Target wants to redesign the Storke Plaza Retail Center, with itself as the anchor tenant in a 116,578-square-foot store, new signage and a façade makeover for the nearby row of businesses, which include Cajun Kitchen, Indo China Market and Subway.

“We were informed last week that Target will be replacing Kmart,” Councilman Roger Aceves confirmed for Josh. “They have submitted a preliminary application for interior and façade improvements.

“I am very excited, as our community has been begging Target to find a location in our city.”

Goleta will evaluate the proposal and respond.

Target confirmed its interest in the Goleta site.

“We are certainly looking for opportunities in the Santa Barbara and Goleta area,” said Jacqueline DeBuse, a company spokeswoman. “Filing an application is just one of the many steps in the process.

“We are interested in the area, and we believe there is an opportunity to serve guests in that area.”

2. SEC Accuses Montecito Man, Leasing Company of Defrauding Investors

Montecito resident Ralph Iannelli and his equipment leasing company have been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with defrauding dozens of investors as he sought to raise millions of dollars to save the struggling business.

Ralph Iannelli Click to view larger
Ralph (almost) Breaks the Internet. (Noozhawk file photo)

According to a complaint the SEC filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Iannelli and his company, Essex Capital Corp., were charged with making “a series of false and misleading statements and illusory personal guarantees to registered investment advisers to induce them to invest millions of dollars of their clients’ money in Essex’s failing equipment leasing business.”

As our Tom Bolton was first to report, the SEC said some 70 investors were hoodwinked by the alleged scam through the sale of promissory notes with a high interest rate of around 8.5 percent.

Among other examples, the complaint states, “Essex and Iannelli provided one investment adviser with fake financial statements that overstated Essex’s assets by more than $20 million.”

The SEC says Essex piled up $32 million in operating losses between 2014 and 2016. With the company tanking, the complaint alleges, it used “frequent Ponzi-like” payments, paying interest and principal to existing investors with funds raised from newer investors.

“At the same time,” the SEC alleged, “Iannelli allegedly paid himself millions of dollars in bonuses and siphoned millions of dollars out of Essex through interest-free loans with no maturity date.”

The SEC wants a return of the allegedly ill-gotten gains, along with interest, monetary penalties, and permanent injunctions against Iannelli and Essex. It also has asked for an asset freeze.

Iannelli did not return Noozhawk’s call for comment.

3. Electric Scooter Company Hits Speed Bump in Downtown Santa Barbara

Scooters Click to view larger
Unplugged. (City of Santa Barbara photo)

The electric scooter-sharing craze sweeping the country is drawing as much controversy as it is startup capital for the rental companies that hope to make a pretty penny off the vehicles — for the good of the environment, of course.

Santa Barbara became the latest community to confront the fad when it discovered as many as 100 of the E-scooters placed all over downtown State Street sidewalks on June 8.

The scooters were dropped off by San Mateo-based LimeBike, which aims to provide sustainable first- and last-mile transportation that is affordable, convenient and carbon footprint-friendly. Users locate a scooter and pay for the ride via a phone app, which then logs the drop-off location for the next customer.

That’s all fine and dandy but city officials say the company illegally placed the E-scooters in public areas after being explicity told that it was not proper to do so without going through the regular approval process. You know, like the rest of us.

As a result, Public Works crews rounded up and impounded 100 of the scooters.

“While clear benefits exist, scooters are causing controversy and safety issues,” said Rob Dayton, the city’s transportation and parking manager. “Scooters can be left in the travel path of the sidewalk and become a trip hazard to pedestrians.

“Many are ridden on the sidewalk. Although riding an electric scooter by state law requires a helmet, the companies typically do not provide them.”

As a result of the incident, the City Council will consider an emergency ordinance at its June 19 meeting.

“The city is responsible for the safety of our sidewalks, streets and public spaces,” Mayor Cathy Murillo told our Josh Molina. “These areas belong to the people, to all of us, and for-profit entities must work with the city before using them.”

LimeBike officials could not be reached for comment.

Backed by major Silicon Valley venture capital firms, the company currently is raising $250 million in new funding at a $750 million valuation, according to Axios.

4. Injuries Reported in Multivehicle Crash on Highway 101 in Montecito

Crash Click to view larger
Or as we call it, “Sunday in Montecito.” (Diego Topete / Noozhawk photo)

Details were scant, but a June 10 Highway 101 collision among a half-dozen vehicles injured five people and backed up traffic through Montecito for miles — and hours.

According to the Montecito Fire Protection District, the wreck occurred just before 4 p.m. on the northbound side of the freeway near San Ysidro Road.

Two people suffered moderate injuries and three others had minor injuries.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

5. 2 People Critically Injured in Wrong-Way Crash on Highway 217 in Goleta

Crash Click to view larger
Somebody was going the wrong way. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

An alleged wrong-way driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after a head-on collision on Highway 217 near Goleta. Two people suffered major injuries in the wreck, which occurred well after midnight June 8.

David Cruz Click to view larger
Clue to the nearby photo caption: It wasn’t David Cruz. He was headed in the right direction on Highway 217 near Goleta when a wrong-way driver crashed into him, leaving him with severe injuries. (GoFundMe photo)

According to California Highway Patrol Sgt. James Richards, 21-year-old Grady James Hocking of Goleta had been driving north in Highway 101’s southbound lanes before he turned onto Highway 217, also known as Ward Memorial Drive, and begain heading west in the eastbound lanes.

Unfortunately, David Cruz, a 53-year-old Uber driver from Oxnard, was in those eastbound lanes, coming around the curve as he descended toward the freeway just before 1:30 a.m. Richards said Hocking’s 2018 Mazda sedan slammed head-on into Cruz’s 2012 Dodge, critically injuring both men, the only occupants.

Cruz and the dumbass in the other car were rushed by American Medical Response ambulances to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, although Richards said Hocking was arrested first.

The CHP is investigating the crash.

Cruz’s daughter, Cynthia, has established a GoFundMe page to help the family with his medical expenses, which already are extensive. They could really use some help. Click here to make on online donation.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Both Drivers Seriously Injured in 2-Vehicle Collision in Goleta.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

From the Miracle in the Desert to a nightmarish dust-up: As California’s Largest Lake Dries Up, It Threatens Nearby Communities with Clouds of Toxic Dust.

                                                                 •        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

Have you ever seen a mobile traffic signal? There’s one in my Instagram feed, if you want to stop before you go.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

You can’t expect stamina from a puppy doing a Genesis drum solo. But, as Mr. Santa Barbara Larry Crandell often advised: Always leave ’em wanting more.

(The Best Song video)

                                                                 •        •        •

How You Can Help Noozhawk

Talk is cheap. Professional news gathering is not. If you like what you’re reading on Noozhawk and think our reporting is essential to the community, please support our work by becoming a member of our Hawks Club.

While most of Noozhawk’s revenue comes from advertising and sponsorships, we believe that reader contributions are a vital source of support — financially and fundamentally.

Your loyalty membership helps us continue to provide you with unmatched local news and in-depth reporting on the issues that you care about.

Please note that personal contributions to Noozhawk are not deductible as charitable donations.

Thank you for your support.

— 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >