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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 1:08 pm | Fair 67º


Bill Macfadyen: Crushing Death at Construction Yard Starts a Long Day of Bad News

NoozWeek’s Top 5 also includes a fatal motorcycle collision, a ban on motorized scooters in Goleta, a cliff crash rescue and my take on ‘tiny homes’

Industrial accident Click to view larger
A tragic start to the day. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

Thank you to the nearly 100 people who turned out on a rainy afternoon for Noozhawk’s Public Newsroom to Reimagine: Santa Barbara. The Dec. 5 event at the new Youth Interactive space downtown was a wide-ranging and pretty entertaining conversation, and I think it was a good start at mobilizing the public to take a more active role in some of the exasperating issues affecting our community.

Sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation and Union Bank, along with our Reimagine: Santa Barbara project partners and DPNews, the forum tackled the idea of closing all or part of State Street downtown, all or part of the time; the “pop-up shops” fad; and last year’s State Street charrette created by the American Institute of Architects-Santa Barbara chapter.

The panelists were entrepreneur Rinaldo Brutoco, founder of the World Business Academy; architect Brian Cearnal, founding partner of the Cearnal Collective; Amy Cooper, owner of Plum Goods and a board member of Downtown Santa Barbara; Dave Davis, board chairman of the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District, retired Community Environmental Council CEO and executive director, and a former City of Santa Barbara community development director; Adam Geeb, asset management director at SIMA Management; Nina Johnson, senior assistant to the Santa Barbara city administrator; Tom Parker, businessman, philanthropist and president of the Hutton Parker Foundation; and Bob Perry, project manager/energy research director at the World Business Academy.

In spite of my inadequacies as a moderator, the panelists were terrific, but I thought the real stars were the audience members who stood up and asked questions and, in many cases, joined in the discussion with their own observations. No matter where the participants seemed to stand on the issues, the overwhelming frustration with the status quo was undeniable.

And that, I’m afraid, is on us. We have allowed the city’s leadership — elected and appointed — to create a culture of timidity and inertia, in which the automatic response is to hire a consultant to study something until a new crisis comes along, or to enable the bureaucracy to toss around an active verb like, say, the word “accelerate” to describe a new program that is supposed to expedite the permitting process but is an object of derision to almost anyone it’s supposedly helping.

That has got to change, and I hope our Public Newsroom will be a catalyst. The experience certainly has inspired my team and me. We’re already planning to hold more of these types of open community forums in 2019.

If you missed it, or our Brooke Holland and Giana Magnoli’s reporting on it, we’ll let you know when we’ve posted the videotape put together by the DP News crew from Dos Pueblos High School.

While you’re waiting, Noozhawk drew an audience of 148,349 readers this past week, according to our Google Analytics. What follows is my take on your Top 5 most-read stories of that seven-day period. Please remember that this is my opinion column, and not a news story.

1. Man Crushed to Death by Steel Beam at Santa Barbara Construction Yard

Dec. 3 was one of the more bizarre — and busiest — news days we’ve had in a while, and it started off in the worst way with a fatal accident at a Santa Barbara construction yard.

According to Santa Barbara police spokesman Anthony Wagner, a man was crushed to death by a 7,200-pound, 50-foot steel I-beam just before 7 a.m. at Kenney Construction, 619 E. Montecito St.

Santiago Perez Jr. Click to view larger
Santiago Perez Jr. and business partner Kristina Duckworth-Bailey appeared in Noozhawk’s Nov. 8 BizHawk column as the new co-owners of Thomas Towing. (Thomas Towing file photo)

The company specializes in concrete and structural steel foundations, footings and concrete walls.

Wagner said officials from Cal/OSHA and the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Bureau were investigating the circumstances of the accident, but no other details were released.

The victim was 35-year-old Santiago Perez Jr., a husband, dad, popular youth baseball and softball coach in Goleta, and former Marine.

Perez also was the new co-owner of Thomas Towing. In fact, less than a month ago, he and his business partner, Kristina Duckworth-Bailey, were the subject of a BizHawk column announcing that the two longtime managers had bought the company from their boss.

Perez is survived by his wife, Mayra, and children Santiago III and Bella.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Dec. 7 at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, 21 E. Sola St. in Santa Barbara, with burial to follow at Calvary Cemetery, 199 N. Hope Ave. A Rosary was held the night before.

The Dos Pueblos Sluggers, the baseball team Perez coached, established a GoFundMe account to benefit his family. As of Dec. 7, the site had raised nearly $54,000. Click here to make an online donation. Contributions also can be made to the Santiago Perez Jr. Memorial Account at any Community West Bank branch.

2. Motorcyclist Killed in Crash Near Santa Barbara City College

Motorcycle crash Click to view larger
String of bad news continues. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

A motorcyclist from Goleta died in a collision with a car near Santa Barbara City College’s main entrance Dec. 3. The circumstances of the crash are under investigation, but authorities say speed may have been a factor.

Santa Barbara police spokesman Anthony Wagner, the wreck occurred about 4 p.m. in the 700 block of Cliff Drive. He said the motorcyclist was riding a Yamaha R-1 eastbound in the right lane when a car pulled out of an SBCC driveway ahead of him, also traveling east.

Wagner said both drivers tried to avoid a collision, but, tragically, each made the instantaneous choice to move to the left lane.

The motorcyclist struck the back of the car, was thrown from the bike and slammed into the pavement quite a ways away. Wagner said he suffered major traumatic injuries and was declared dead at the scene.

Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said the Coroner’s Bureau identified the man as 24-year-old LeMar Young. He apparently was a former SBCC student.

The driver of the car, a BMW, was not injured.

Wagner said officers “are investigating speed as a possible factor in the crash,” but had not determined which driver was responsible for the collision.

Friends established a GoFundMe account to help Young’s family with funeral expenses. Click here to make an online donation.

3. Goleta City Council Votes Unanimously to Ban Motorized Scooters

Bird spokeswoman Lys Mendez Palomo Click to view larger
Goleta City Council to Bird spokeswoman Lys Mendez Palomo: Scoot. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Without permission or permits, hundreds of rentable motorized scooters suddenly appeared in Goleta in September, cluttering curbs and sidewalks wherever you looked — or tried to walk.

That invasion — by startups Bird and Lime, two darlings of the venture capital crowd — ran into an emphatic rebuke at the Dec. 4 meeting of the City Council, which voted unanimously for an emergency ordinance to ban the vehicles.

Under the ordinance, city enforcement officers will begin impounding the scooters immediately. To get them back, the companies must pay the city $196 per scooter.

Goleta’s 5-0 vote closely followed the route the City of Santa Barbara took when it faced a similar inundation earlier this year. UC Santa Barbara previously banned the scooters on campus.

“I am not happy that two companies decided that it was OK to dump over 400 scooters in our community without asking what the rules and regulations are ...,” Councilman Roger Aceves said. “What other business would we allow to do that?”

Bird spokeswoman Lys Mendez Palomo disputed the 400 figure but said her company identifies communities “where there is an interest for service.”

“We want to work with Goleta to find a productive way forward that doesn’t take these transportation options away from residents,” she said.

4. Pickup Truck Veers Off Highway 101, Plunges Over Cliff Near Summerland

Crash Click to view larger
Down scaling. (Ray Ford / Noozhawk photo)

A Santa Barbara man was seriously injured Dec. 3 when his pickup truck plunged down the cliff along Highway 101 atop Summerland’s Ortega Hill. The vehicle came to a precarious rest, right side up, about 250 feet down the steep slope.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the 72-year-old driver was headed south on the freeway about 7:30 a.m. when the truck went over the side.

Crews from the Montecito and Santa Barbara fire departments responded to the scene, where they conducted a “high-angle rescue” using a rope system to reach the driver and the pickup.

The CHP said the driver suffered major injuries and was transported by an American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Details of his condition were not available and his name was not disclosed.

The cause of the wreck is under investigation. As you probably guessed, the spectacle caused the already slow morning commute to back up even more.

5. Bill Macfadyen: Huge Controversy Erupts Over Santa Barbara’s ‘Tiny Homes’ for Homeless Maneuver

Last week’s top story was the public furor that greeted the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara’s half-baked plan to build “tiny homes” for the homeless at the gateway to downtown, the commuter parking lot at West Carrillo and Castillo streets.

This week, the Housing Authority shelved the idea, although executive director and CEO Rob Fredericks pointed to the lack of grant funding that would be coming from the State of California, not the controversy the agency generated all by itself.

The city had made a $6.5 million grant request for the project, but will only receive $2 million. Fredericks told our Josh Molina that the money would now be reallocated to restorative policing and outreach services, and not tiny homes.

It doesn’t sound as if the idea is entirely dead, however. I would hope city officials will remember that the opposition was as multifaceted as it was fierce. Regardless of whether the city acknowledges that right now, the community deserves a say should this action item resurface.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Did you have to ask? Thomas Fire Grows to 65,000 Acres Overnight, Burns Down to Highway 101 West of Ventura.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

For those of us who aren’t Westmont College Choir material: A No-Fail Christmas Caroling Guide for Even the Most Bashful Singers.

                                                                 •        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

My Instagram feed captures wind, rain, hail, lightning and thunder — all in the same post.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

In honor of this weekend’s NCAA College Cup at UCSB ...

(Animal Place video)

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— 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.

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