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Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Preventative Scare Tactics Turn Isla Vista into a Halloween Ghost Town

NoozWeek’s Top 5 starts with the Dodgers’ sorry ending, hunts for Batman, seeks damages in a paddleboard drowning, corners a couple of burglary suspects, but finds no reassurance with health insurance

Cujo? Click to view larger
Cujo? (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk)

Thirty. Freaking. Years.

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers on one of the best seasons in club history. How nice for you.

To quote the legendary and profanely prescient Tommy Lasorda: “You haven’t done shit until you win tomorrow.”

For Dodger Nation, this particular ending is bitter, not sweet, and I know I’m not alone in saying I’m really, really tired of a 30-year losing streak. After all these decades, the Fox and Frankrupt McCourt disasters, ceding a stretch of championship runs to the San Francisco giants(!), squandering the best years of Clayton Kershaw’s career and Vin Scully’s storytelling life, and the ongoing TV blackout, I’m not seeing much reward for long-suffering loyal Dodger fans.

We do an awful lot for you; second-best isn’t good enough.

Fortunately, I have Team Noozhawk I can rely on, and our heavy hitters always come through in the clutch. According to our Google Analytics, this past week’s lineup drew 112,549 readers.

The most-read stories were a little on the dark side this time, which seems somehow appropriate for my sour mood, the gloomy weather we’re having and the upcoming time change that always throws everyone off. I’ll try to be a little less sardonic with my take on your Top 5 stories of the week.

Batter up!

1. It Appears Isla Vista Halloween Celebration Has Given Up the Ghost

Suppose there was a Halloween in Isla Vista and nobody came. Such an outcome is impossible to contemplate, given the raucous bacchanalia of I.V. Halloweens past, or even on just a typical Saturday night.

But that’s what happened the night of Oct. 28, the closest Saturday to All Hallows’ Eve and the one authorities feared had the most potential for mischief.

“There’s nothing going on,” Santa Barbara County sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover told our Tom Bolton at 10:30 p.m.

Hoover even went so far as to speculate that activity on Del Playa Drive and environs, usually a sea of youthful revelers, actually was less than normal — not that she, or anyone else in law enforcement, was complaining.

In years past, Isla Vista’s Halloween scene was not to be missed, and wasn’t, by tens of thousands of party animals, many of whom traveled from afar to join in. Hundreds of citations, dozens of arrests and numerous medical calls were typical.

In the last few years, though, authorities and UC Santa Barbara officials have increased the law enforcement presence in Isla Vista while launching pretty effective social-media campaigns aimed at discouraging out-of-towners from making the trip.

The night of Oct. 28, several thousand students packed the Events Center on campus for a concert by Delirium. The annual concert, exclusively for UCSB students, is put on by the Associated Students Program Board with the intention of keeping people off the streets.

It worked.

2. 2 Men Stage Takeover Armed Robbery of Santa Barbara Verizon Wireless Store

Better matters. Click to view larger
Better matters. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)

Batman usually is the hero of the story, not the suspect. Well, unless The Joker or The Riddler tries to frame the Caped Crusader in a diabolical plot.

The jury is still out on that twist but, in the meantime, Santa Barbara police are investigating a takeover armed robbery at a Verizon Wireless store about 7 p.m. on Halloween.

According to Sgt. Riley Harwood, two men — one of whom was either Batman or disguised as Batman — strong-armed their way into the store at 2980 State St., on the corner of Calle Crespis across from CVS.

The dastardly duo brandished a handgun while ordering the four employees and two customers into a back room. They then proceeded to steal cash, cell phones and other merchandise before running off into the dark night, no doubt blending in with the mobs of trick-or-treaters who descend on the San Roque neighborhood every Halloween.

None of the victims was physically injured in the confrontation but, Holy Phone Chargers, what a story they have to tell!

3. Family of Drowned Paddleboarder Files Claims for Damages Against City of Santa Barbara

Prospective wrongful-death lawsuit casts a wide net. Click to view larger
Prospective wrongful-death lawsuit casts a wide net. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk file photo)

This being America, it’s customary to sue everyone in sight when bad things happen. While my heart goes out to the family of Davies Kabogoza, it seems more of a stretch than usual to name the City of Santa Barbara in a wrongful-death action over his drowning in the harbor earlier this year.

Kabogoza, 30, of Santa Barbara, died April 29 while stand-up paddleboarding with a companion west of Stearns Wharf. He fell off his rented board around 4 p.m. and went under almost immediately. About two hours later, divers located his body in about 30 feet of water.

An investigation by the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office determined that Kabogoza, a native of Uganda, did not know how to swim and that he had not inflated his belt-pack floatation device when he fell.

His death was ruled an accidental drowning.

On Nov. 1, however, Kabogoza’s mother and brother filed wrongful-death claims seeking unspecified damages from an armada of waterfront interests, among them Scott Riedman, the city’s harbor master and waterfront director, and other municipal staff, and Santa Barbara Sailing Center owner Skip Abed and a few of his employees.

Kabogoza rented his paddleboard from the sailing center, which is located on city property near the launch ramp by Sea Landing. The sailing center has been a harbor mainstay since 1966.

According to the claims filed by attorney Barry Cappello on behalf of Kabogoza’s family, Santa Barbara Sailing Center employees did not inquire about Kabogoza’s swimming skills, did not help him select an appropriate life vest and did not advise him on how to wear it or inflate it.

Further, the claims say sailing center employees rented to Kabogoza a stand-up paddleboard that was not appropriate for a nonswimmer, and did not require or recommend that he use a leash to tether himself to the board in case he fell.

“The city has a duty to ensure that special care is given when one of its tenants rents equipment for water activities,” Cappello said.

“We understand that city employees were aware of the Sailing Center’s negligence when it came to safety yet did nothing to remedy the problem.”

There’s little to no wiggle room in that accusation, so it’ll be interesting to learn if there’s actually something to it, or if it’s trial lawyer bluster from a master caster.

The parties on the other end of the claim all declined immediate comment.

Kabogoza’s move to the United States was sponsored by a member of Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara in 2010. He attended Santa Barbara City College and graduated from Westmont College in 2016 with a degree in kinesiology.

He played soccer for both schools, was a volunteer soccer coach at SBCC and Laguna Blanca School, and was training to be a physical therapist.

A GoFundMe page is still active for Kabogoza. Click here to make an online donation.

4. Burglary Suspects Arrested After Standoff at Storke Ranch in Goleta

“We’re seriously waiting around for these two punks? Send in the dog and let’s get out of here.” Click to view larger
“We’re seriously waiting around for these two punks? Send in the dog and let’s get out of here.” (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

An Isla Vista burglary suspect was tracked to a nearby townhouse in Goleta, where he and a crony were arrested after about an hour-long standoff with authorities Oct. 30.

UC Santa Barbara police Sgt. Rob Romero said officers had been tipped that the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Anthony McAllister, lived at the Storke Ranch townhouse in the shadow of Santa Catalina Residence Hall in Isla Vista.

Just before 3 p.m., UCSB police, sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers converged on the Poppyfield Place residence off Storke Road. They set up a perimeter, blocked off streets and used a reverse notification system to alert neighbors to shelter in place during the operation.

Romero said McAllister had been identified as the suspect in an Isla Vista burglary and confrontation earlier that morning, as well as a second break-in last week at the Tropicana Apartments in the 6500 block of El Colegio Road.

After being warned over a loudspeaker that a police K-9 would be coming in to get him if he didn’t give up, McAllister surrendered around 4:15 p.m.

Romero said McAllister was booked into County Jail on suspicion of burglary, attempted burglary, conspiracy and making criminal threats. A narcotics-related arrest warrant out of Wisconsin was icing on the cake, he added.

A second alleged ne’er-do-well also was arrested in the incident. Romero said McAllister’s roommate, 19-year-old Cameron Lawson, was booked on suspicion of attempted burglary and conspiracy.

5. Sansum Clinic Has No Contract for Covered California Blue Shield Patients as Open Enrollment Starts

Some Sansum Clinic patients are under separate cover. Click to view larger
Some Sansum Clinic patients are under separate cover. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

With the open enrollment period underway for health insurance customers, talks between Sansum Clinic and Blue Shield of California show no sign of going anywhere.

Sansum does not have a contract with Blue Shield to cover patients of Covered California, the state-run health insurance exchange established by Obamacare — or patients insured individually under Blue Shield, for that matter. Sansum and Blue Shield do have a contract for Blue Shield patients covered by group policies, however.

Anthem Blue Cross had a Covered California contract with Sansum, but Anthem has since pulled out of California, the latest insurer to abandon the field amid skyrocketing costs.

Former Anthem clients will need to find a replacement plan ASAP, but Blue Shield is not likely an option if they wish to avail themselves of Sansum’s 23 primary, specialty and urgent care clinics on the South Coast.

“We know people are frustrated with the uncertainty — and we share that frustration,” Sansum spokeswoman Jill Fonte told our Giana Magnoli.

“We know how important it is to our community and our patients to resolve this, and we are doing everything we can to secure a contract to cover individual patients who will have Blue Shield through Covered California.”

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Driver Taken to Hospital After Van Lands on Car in Santa Barbara.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

You never know what you’ll find lying around The Last Frontier: Seal of Approval Needed at Alaska Airport Runway.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

Batman may have gotten a bad rap the other dark night. I’m giving Bruce Wayne the last words of wisdom.

(pitcherst video)

                                                                 •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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