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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 7:28 pm | Fair 50º


Bill Macfadyen: Montecito Keeps a Weather Eye Out, But This Time the Storm Blinks

NoozWeek’s Top 5 also overdoes it with overdoses, remembers Jack Cantin, takes another swipe at the Tesla-hating Hatchet Man, and finds a Royal mess at San Marcos High School

San Ysidro Creek stayed in its lane March 2. Click to view larger
San Ysidro Creek stayed in its lane March 2. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)

With the ghosts of Smoot and Hawley stirring in the grave and a few glimpses of Santa Barbara County’s looming post-disaster economic disaster, an upcoming UCSB Economic Forecast Project forum could not be more fitting.

The discussion of the economic impact from the Thomas Fire and the Montecito flash flooding is scheduled for March 28, and will include panelists Peter Rupert, the EFP’s executive director; Joe Holland, Santa Barbara County’s clerk-recorder-assessor; Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of Visit Santa Barbara; Nina Johnson, senior assistant to Santa Barbara City Administrator Paul Casey; Betsy Schaffer, the county’s assistant auditor-controller; and state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

My friends, Janet Garufis, chairwoman and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, and Ed Edick, co-owner and co-founder of Village Properties Realtors, will be moderating the discussion.

Check back with Noozhawk for more details, but the Economic Forecast Project could really use your help in advance via its Countywide Small Business Survey about the wildfire and flooding effects.

If you are a business owner, click here to participate. In addition to the EFP, the survey is sponsored by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, Visit Santa Barbara and Women’s Economic Ventures.

While the Economic Forecast Project is compiling those results, I have the results of our Google Analytics for the past week — 139,918 readers — as well as the Top Five stories you were reading.

What follows is my opinion column about that list. This is not a news story.

1. No Major Incidents Reported in First Major Storm Following Montecito Debris Flows

Well, that passed.

The first storm to roll into Montecito since the massive January flash flooding and mudflows was way less than forecast — not that anyone was complaining.

According to the National Weather Service, the March 2 storm had the potential to reach debris-flow-causing rainfall rates. As a result, Santa Barbara County officials utilized their new Point A-to-Point B method of scientific projection, and just declared a mandatory evacuation for almost all of Montecito and Carpinteria.

Early that morning, a flash flood warning was issued for neighborhoods below the wildfire burn areas, with the heaviest rain expected between 3 and 4 a.m.

Although minor flooding was reported here and there, county Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said there were no real problems, and certainly none on the scale of Jan. 8, when the destruction included 23 dead, more than two dozen seriously injured, and hundreds of houses destroyed or damaged.

By 9 a.m., all evacuation orders had been lifted.

The weather service said the Thomas Fire burn area did record 3.31 inches of rain from the March 2 storm, but it was spread out enough to keep unstable mountainsides largely intact.

Another storm is forecast to hit the South Coast the afternoon of March 10, but — as of now — the intensity of the rain is expected to be relatively minor and no evacuation orders have been issued.

Click here to sign up for Noozhawk’s free breaking news text alerts to your cell phone.

2. 9 People Treated for Apparent Opioid Overdoses in Isla Vista Incident

March 1 may not have the notoriety of April Fools’ Day, but Isla Vista sure had its share of dope dupes that night.

Just after 10 p.m., public safety personnel were dispatched to a medical emergency in the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive.

Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said first-responders found an unconscious young man “lying in the backseat of a vehicle.”

“The subject’s housemates claimed he had ingested an unknown amount of alcohol and a prescription pain reliever, Oxycontin,” she told our Tom Bolton.

Just as he was rushed to the hospital, deputies — who I trust were investigating the far-too-convenient “backseat” story, among other things — learned there was a second possible overdose.

“This male was carried out from the residence and had stopped breathing,” Hoover said. “A sheriff’s deputy administered ... his department-issued naloxone nasal spray.”

No. 2, too, was carted off to the hospital.

After that, deputies and UC Santa Barbara police conducted a full welfare check of the residence. Hoover said they found a “social gathering” of nearly two dozen guys, with seven of them showing signs and symptoms consistent with a drug overdose.

“All of them reportedly ingested a ‘blue pill,’” she said.

More ambulances and medical personnel were dispatched, and Hoover said a total of nine males, most of them UC Santa Barbara students, were transported to the hospital.

All of the fools were expected to survive.

3. Jack Cantin of Montecito, 2000-2018

Jack Cantin with members of his Cleveland School Fan Club in 2016. Click to view larger
Jack Cantin with members of his Cleveland School Fan Club in 2016. (Cantin family photo)

It was nearly two weeks after the deadly Jan. 8 flash flooding in Montecito before searchers located the remains of the 21st victim, 28-year-old Faviola Benitez Calderon. The Jan. 20 discovery left two people — two children — unaccounted for: 2-year-old Lydia Sutthithepa and 17-year-old John “Jack” Cantin.

It has now been two months since the disaster, with no additional news. On March 7, Jack’s heartbroken mom, Kim, shared with Noozhawk her son’s obituary. Her tender, heartfelt and deservedly proud tribute was just as powerful as the one she had to write for her husband, Dave, who also perished that fateful night.

Jack Cantin, 2000-2018. Click to view larger
Jack Cantin, 2000-2018. (Cantin family photo)

The wall of water and debris that hit the Cantins’ home near what is now known as “Devil’s Triangle,” at the intersection of Hot Springs and Olive Mill roads, ripped the house apart.

Dave and Jack were swept away, while Kim was trapped in a section of the structure that somehow ended up downstream at Casa Dorinda, at 300 Hot Springs Road. Jack’s 14-year-old sister, Lauren, was later found buried up to her neck in mud in the ruins of the house.

Both Kim and Lauren suffered serious injuries in the catastrophe, but were released from the hospital after a couple of weeks. Lauren has since earned rave reviews for her singing at the Feb. 25 One805 Kick Ash Bash benefit concert.

The Cantins moved to Montecito in 2010, and Jack quickly settled in at Montecito Union School. He went on to Santa Barbara Middle School, where he took full advantage of the school’s educational enthusiasm for cycling. At Santa Barbara High School, he was a popular junior in the Multimedia Arts & Design (MAD) Academy with an aptitude for computers and gaming.

Jack was a co-founder of Teens on the Scene, a youth-led community service and leadership group with chapters at four local high schools, and he was active at his church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, up the street.

The Cantin family, Kim and Dave and their children, Jack and Lauren. Click to view larger
The Cantin family, Kim and Dave and their children, Jack and Lauren. (Cantin family photo)

He also thrived as a Boy Scout, earning the rank of Eagle, Scouting’s highest honor, in a troop whose scoutmaster was his dad. For his Eagle project in 2016, Jack and a team of volunteers renovated the basketball courts at Cleveland School on the Riviera. Grateful students later invited him back to campus for an awards ceremony of their own.

A celebration of Jack’s life is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 17 at the Santa Barbara Mission, 2201 Laguna St., where his father’s service was held earlier.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

Eagle to Eagle, Jack, may you and your dad rest in peace, and may the inspiration of your young life continue to light the way for your mom, your sister and all those in your vast constellation of friends and acquaintances.

4. Hatchet-Wielding Man Allegedly Driven to Crime by Hatred of Teslas

Chop star. Click to view larger
Chop star. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

Hatchet Man sure clicked with Noozhawk readers.

The alleged hatchet attack on a passing Teslalast week’s top story — has lost surprisingly little traffic juice since we first reported the apparently unprovoked Feb. 28 incident. Not only is our Tom Bolton’s story still getting reads, it’s been one of the most forwarded stories we’ve had this year.

Santa Barbara police say the suspect was driven to tomahawk the car because he hates Teslas. Prius owners are no doubt relieved the axhole wasn’t simply electric profiling.

5. San Marcos High Principal Ed Behrens Reportedly May Be Reassigned; Parents Rally to Defend Him

Ed Behrens has his back against the wall at San Marcos High School. Click to view larger
Ed Behrens has his back against the wall at San Marcos High School. (Noozhawk file photo)

What the hell is going on at San Marcos High School?

First, sheriff’s detectives were investigating misogynistic chat room posts allegedly made by pimply faced idiots with teenage boy B.O. channeling their inner Harvey Weinsteins. Search warrants were served and authorities say some of the vulgar comments may rise to the level of criminal threats.

Another Royal dumbass allegedly posted a threatening video, which also drew detectives’ attention. Both cases are under review by the District Attorney’s Office.

On Feb. 5, Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Cary Matsuoka ran into a buzz saw of criticism when he met with about 200 parents at the school’s auditorium, at 4750 Hollister Ave.

As reported then by our Josh Molina, it certainly wasn’t Matsuoka’s finest hour. Just spitballing here, but I suspect parents these days expect school superintendents to be a bit more prepared for questions and policies involving school violence, bullying and social media.

On Feb. 27, school district trustees may or may not have discussed in closed session whether to dump longtime Principal Ed Behrens. The district would neither confirm nor deny such a move, and said in a statement to our Giana Magnoli that “the staff recommendation concerning the San Marcos High School principal is a personnel item that limits our ability to comment.”

Many San Marcos High parents are calling B.S. on that. Turning up the pressure to save Behrens’ job, they’ve mobilized a growing group called SMHS Supporters of Ed. Among its own boosters are members of powerhouse campus organizations like the Royal Pride Foundation and the PTSA, as well as alumni of Royal Nation.

A change.org petition backing Behrens has drawn more than 2,200 signatures since it was launched March 8. The petition — directed at the SBUSD school board — outlines a long list of his accomplishments at, and on behalf of, the school.

According to PTSA president Marcy Wimbish, Matsuoka has told Behrens he will be relieved of his principal duties at the end of the school year and given the option of accepting a teaching position with a dramatic pay cut or tendering his resignation. Behrens and SBUSD officials declined to comment.

“Supporters of Mr. Behrens believe that he has been made the scapegoat for the embarrassment brought upon the school district when concerned parents raised important questions regarding the district’s lack of a well-defined threat management and communication plan to handle cyber threats,” said a statement emailed by the San Marcos parent group.

Amid the debate over Behrens’ future, the threats go on. On March 7, graffiti warning of a March 9 school shooting was discovered in a girls’ restroom on campus. Sheriff’s deputies will have a presence at the school all day March 9.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Family of Lompoc Couple Killed in Crash Near Federal Prisons Files Lawsuit.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Here’s a plot twist you won’t see coming (and I have not said too much already): When You Grow Up Never Realizing You’re On the Run from the Mob. And then things get really weird.

                                                                 •        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

It appears my Instagram feed has made it out of Montecito. Way out of Montecito.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

As far as I know, no videos exist of the deadly Jan. 9 flash flooding and mudflows in Montecito. This footage of a 2017 debris flow in Switzerland will give you a sense of the power and violence, however. Your imagination will take it from there, and it’s terrifying.

(Pierre Zufferey 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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