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Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Plea Deal in DUI Case Has Paula Lopez Facing a Dry Run

NoozWeek’s Top 5 logs a Montecito freeway pileup, runs into permit problems on the Mesa, welcomes Jane at the Marketplace, and keeps up my appearances

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[Noozhawk’s note: I’ve ruled myself out of order and rewritten the part about the specific Paula Lopez sentencing terms — to be more precise.]

Welcome to the Rams, Jared Goff. The Los Angeles Rams.

While NFL teams are putting together their futures, Noozhawk drafted 100,754​ readers this past week. This is my take on your top five stories, as determined by our Google Analytics:

1. Paula Lopez Given Jail Time in Goleta DUI Case Plea Deal

Something tells me we’re not yet finished with Paula Lopez. (Noozhawk file photo)
Something tells me we’re not yet finished with Paula Lopez. (Noozhawk file photo)

At long last, the DUI case involving former television news anchor Paula Lopez Ochoa appears to be reaching a conclusion.

As our Giana Magnoli first reported April 22, a settlement agreement has been reached involving her Sept. 6 arrest in Goleta on suspicion of driving under the influence and several other misdemeanors.

According to the terms of the deal, the 51-year-old Lopez will plead no contest to DUI; the special allegation of refusing a chemical test; resisting, obstructing or delaying a peace officer; and battery.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office will dismiss the other charges, including driving with a blood-alcohol content over .08 and an additional count of battery.

Lopez is to appear in Superior Court on July 22, when she will be sentenced to 120 days in jail and a three-year probation term, Deputy District Attorney Megan Chanda said.

Among the conditions of Lopez’s probation, Chanda checked off zero alcohol use for three years, taking the anti-alcohol drug Antabuse for three years, required attendance at three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week for three years, nine months of DUI school, and counseling.

If she violates any of her probation terms, however, she could find herself back in County Jail for up to three years.

Law enforcement sources tell me the Department of Motor Vehicles previously suspended Lopez’s driver’s license, but DMV officials have not confirmed any details for Noozhawk.

Lopez, a former KEYT and KCOY TV anchor, was arrested late on the night of Sept. 8 in the parking lot of Sandpiper Golf Club, 7925 Hollister Ave., after law enforcement responded to the scene, following up on reports of a woman lying in the road.

Earlier, the California Highway Patrol had received multiple 9-1-1 calls about a silver Toyota Prius driving the wrong way on northbound Highway 101 near El Capitán State Beach west of Goleta.

A vehicle matching that description — Lopez’s car — was found in the Sandpiper parking lot, too. Authorities believe it was no coincidence.

2. Bill Macfadyen: Mother-Daughter Confrontation Ends Tragically in Parking Lot

Was it the Santa Maria parking lot parting that had my column keeping pace with our latest Paula Lopez story, or was it the presence of Paula Lopez in my column? I think we all know that answer.

Montecito crawling. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)
Montecito crawling. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)

3. Multivehicle Crash Snarls Highway 101 Traffic in Montecito

The dreaded Montecito Crawl came to a complete stop just as the afternoon commute was getting started April 27 on southbound Highway 101.

Five vehicles were involved in the 4 p.m. chain-reaction, rear-end collision on the freeway just west of the Hot Springs Road exit ramp, across the railroad tracks from the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge.

Three people were taken by American Medical Response ambulances to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, according to Santa Barbara Fire Battalion Chief Mike de Ponce.

SBFD was joined at the scene by Montecito Fire Protection District crews. The cause of the crash is under investigation by the CHP.

What do you think you’re doing? (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)
What do you think you’re doing? (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

4. Santa Barbara Planners Decline to Pardon Unpermitted Work at Mesa Apartment Complex

A Santa Barbara property owner is going to have to do things the hard way after the Planning Commission turned down his request to correct extensive unpermitted landscaping and remodeling at his Mesa apartment complex.

The project, at 801-803 Cliff Drive adjacent to Santa Barbara City College, is intended to fix and remove some of the unpermitted work, and begin a habitat-restoration plan to conform to the city’s zoning ordinance, its Local Coastal Plan and the California Coastal Act.

Based on a 2014 complaint, municipal inspectors uncovered a long list of violations, including the unsanctioned remodeling work and the removal of trees and other vegetation.

Developer Ed St. George and Unknown Dream LLC acquired the 97-unit, nearly seven-acre site that same year and began making sustainability-oriented changes, according to the project description letter written by applicant Laurel Perez, vice president and principal planner at Suzanne Elledge Planning & Permitting Services Inc.

The property is located between SBCC’s East and West campuses near Honda Valley Creek. City officials say it flanks one of the largest monarch butterfly winter aggregation sites this side of Goleta.

As it turns out, nearly three dozen eucalyptus trees — a favorite of the monarchs — were removed as part of the unpermitted work. That’s a problem, but far from the only one.

“The reality is that we need to get a really good habitat restoration plan in place because that is the closest thing we can get to basically righting the wrongs,” Commissioner June Pujo said.

Commissioner Deborah Schwartz was equally blunt.

“I don’t like the process or practice of approving (a project) on an ask-for-forgiveness versus permission basis,” she said.

After a lengthy hearing, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to continue to evaluate the proposal and work with the applicant to align the work with proper city and coastal regulations.

Come on in. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Come on in. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

5. BizHawk: Jane at the Marketplace Rounds Out Tenants at Goleta’s Camino Real

Margaret and Mark Huston, owners of the popular Jane Restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara and the always-busy Montecito Café, have opened a new restaurant, Jane at the Marketplace, in Goleta’s Camino Real Marketplace.

“We love it out here,” Margaret Huston told our Gina Potthoff.

With a menu similar to the Hustons’ signature restaurant at 1311 State St., Jane at the Marketplace is adjacent to Pascucci Restaurant in space formerly occupied by Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood.

The move to Goleta comes in the wake of the announcement that the Montecito Café, a Coast Village Road mainstay since 1986, has lost its lease at the Montecito Inn.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Elderly Woman Dies in Montecito House Fire.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

In other words, a broken heart: Dog Dies from Exhaustion after Rescuing 7 People from Ecuador Earthquake.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

Which is more impressive: the domino effect or the patience required to set up the thousands of tiles required?

(Hevesh5 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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