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Bill Macfadyen: Storms Signal a Refreshing Change in the Weather — For Now

NoozWeek’s Top 5 finds no call for alcohol at Bo Henry’s; Helene Schneider goes it alone; R.I.P. Leni Fé Bland; Montecito micromanagement at the Miramar; and Kim Jong-un ... because

There were 81,008 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What’s my take on your top stories? I’m glad you asked, but I hope Kim Jong-un ​doesn’t take offense. (Speaking of that corpulent, commie crackpot with the Moe haircut, click here for a second-generation tribute to the Dork from Nork.)

Now back to Noozhawk’s news:

1. Gusty Winds, Torrential Rains Slam Santa Barbara County

After what seems like days weeks months years decades of going without an extended series of wet storms, Santa Barbara County has been getting pounded by an extended series of wet storms.

Few people seem to be complaining. Heck, I’m not even complaining, and my friends know how much I hate rain.

A major storm system blew in Dec. 11, accompanied by torrential rain, gusty winds and frigid temperatures. Power outages were widespread throughout the county, and localized flooding was a problem in Guadalupe and at many South Coast intersections.

The latest storm dropped more than 5 inches of rain on San Marcos Pass, more than 3 inches in Guadalupe and Santa Maria, and more than 2 inches in Goleta and Santa Barbara.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service said 76 mph winds were recorded at La Cumbre Peak, with 62 mph winds reported at the Santa Ynez Airport and wind in excess of 45 mph at the Lompoc Airport, the Santa Barbara Airport and in Santa Maria.

Unsettled conditions — and more rain — have persisted, but the forecast for Christmas week includes midweek temperatures in the upper 70s and clear skies all the way through Santa’s rounds. Once he’s back at the North Pole, it’s expected to cool down and cloud up.

Click here for the complete National Weather Service forecast.

2. Santa Barbara Bar’s Liquor License Briefly Suspended

Bo Henry’s Cocktail Lounge, 1431 San Andres St. in Santa Barbara, found its liquor license suspended after a minor was allegedly allowed inside the Westside bar.

Leslie Pond, supervising agent in charge at the Ventura office of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said an investigation concluded that the bar had allowed someone under the age of 21 to enter and remain there on Aug. 2.

The violation of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Act resulted in a five-day suspension of the bar’s permission to sell alcohol.

The license was reinstated Dec. 18, and Bo Henry’s owner Robert Henry Eringer told our Gina Potthoff that it won’t happen again.

3. Schneider Cuts Ties with Chamber of Commerce for Santa Barbara’s State of the City Breakfast

For the last 14 years, the City of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce have co-hosted a State of the City Breakfast, with the chamber doing most of the work and the mayor delivering the keynote address.

Starring as the Lone Ranger, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider.
Starring as the Lone Ranger, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider.

Although the 2015 breakfast already had been scheduled for March 20, Mayor Helene Schneider abruptly informed the Santa Barbara chamber that she’s terminating the long-standing partnership.

“We were ready to go with the event,” Ken Oplinger, chamber president and CEO, told our Gina Potthoff. “We were very excited to be able to do it for the 15th year. She was very clear this wasn’t up for discussion.”

Noozhawk left multiple messages for Schneider, who eventually responded by email — which seems to be her preferred method of communication these days. We read in her email that she wants to make the event free to increase public participation.

“The State of the City is the largest event the city has to inform the public about current municipal affairs, and there will not be a change in the actual presentation in 2015,” she had typed. “In prior years, participation at the event has been somewhat limited due to the cost associated with attending.

“The change the city is making is simply in production, and my goal is to increase participation by making admission free and open to the public.”

You know, kind of like those sparsely attended public meetings they hold every Tuesday in that big room on the second floor of City Hall.

Oplinger was diplomatic about it but, in an actual interview with Noozhawk, he noted that last year’s attendance topped 450 people, most of whom paid $60 to attend. That’s a tough act to follow, but Schneider and her strategist certainly have been adept at getting one or two people to show up for her news conferences over the last several years.

Meanwhile, it’s probably just coincidence that the business community has been outspoken in its opposition to Schneider’s​ obstinate stance against the Highway 101 widening project as it was approved.

Schneider increasingly is finding herself on the wrong side of the freeway, as was clearly evident at the Dec. 18 meeting of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments. As current vice chairwoman, she was in line to become next year’s leader at the SBCAG board’s final meeting of 2014.

In a major break with precedent, however, her colleagues voted almost unanimously to bypass her in favor of Solvang Mayor Jim Richardson as chairman, with Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf elected vice chairwoman. Schneider voted for herself but only drew the support of one other board member.

Even more telling was the parade of speakers who lined up to blast Schneider over her widening rift, many of them fellow Democrats and erstwhile allies like former county Supervisors Gail Marshall and Susan Rose; philanthropist Sara Miller McCune; activist Micky Flacks; and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, through her local representative.

“You must follow the wishes of the voters that you are pledged to serve and you must do it today,” McCune said to the board.

It’s not clear who has Schneider’s ear these days, but it sounds like she could use some fresh advice. 

4. Leni Fé Bland, Santa Barbara Arts Patron and Philanthropist, Dead at Age 99

Leni Fé Bland was less than a month away from her 100th birthday when she died Dec. 14. The near-milestone is fitting because the legacy she left in Santa Barbara is one for the ages.

Decades from now, generations of Santa Barbarans will know Leni Fe Bland’s name. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk file photo)
Decades from now, generations of Santa Barbarans will know Leni Fé Bland’s name. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk file photo)

The Montecito philanthropist, a baroness and native of England, gave away millions of dollars over the decades. Humble and petite, Fé​ Bland was an outsized powerhouse in the nonprofit community as she graciously and generously shared her wealth.

Music and the arts were near and dear to her heart, but not far behind were education, health care and help for the less fortunate in this life.

Fé Bland grew up in a family that cherished music, and she carried that commitment with her everywhere.

“A classically trained vocal artist, she was once invited to perform for a group of blind people,” according to a Santa Barbara Foundation biography. “Her performance was enthusiastically received, and thus was born a passion for helping others through music.”

Fé​ Bland single-handedly provided scholarships and financial support to hundreds of students pursuing their own musical passions.

“Leni Fé​ Bland was not only a generous patron of the arts, but also a kind, beautiful soul who loved nothing more than supporting and encouraging the next generation of talented and aspiring musicians,” Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, told Noozhawk.

“She was deservedly admired and loved by so many.”

R.I.P.

Think you’re gonna see the Miramar Beach Resort & Bungalows built in your lifetime? Not if the Montecito Planning Commission can help it. (Caruso Affiliated rendering)
Think you’re gonna see the Miramar Beach Resort & Bungalows built in your lifetime? Not if the Montecito Planning Commission can help it. (Caruso Affiliated rendering)

5. Montecito Planning Commission Delays Decision on Miramar Resort

After a 15-year odyssey, the latest would-be developer of the new Miramar Beach Resort & Bungalows in Montecito thought final approval was within his grasp.

Los Angeles-based Caruso Affiliated, which purchased the dilapidated 16-acre property in 2007, had repeatedly revised its $200 million proposal to meet the needs, expectations and demands of nearby residents, the community, Santa Barbara County and financial backers.

Rick Caruso, CEO of Caruso Affiliated, had gotten initial approval in 2008 and modified plans were OK’d in 2011. In August, the company introduced an even more scaled-down blueprint.

Professional staff with the county Planning and Development Department had signed off, as had local agencies. The hotel concept had passed muster with the not-so-easy-to-please Montecito Association. Even many of the property’s closest neighbors were now in favor.

None of that carried any weight at the Montecito Planning Commission, whose appointees voted unanimously Dec. 15 to postpone consideration of the project until late January — at the earliest. Apparently, according to our Gina Potthoff, the commissioners have a lot of questions.

By this point in the project’s lifespan, one would think they would know the proposal inside and out but, hey, it’s Christmas! There are holiday parties to attend. Who has time for homework?

Caruso Affiliated had hoped to begin construction in midsummer with completion two years later. That’s not going to happen.

“My choice would be to build the project you’ve already approved, which will have much more impact,” Caruso told the commissioners, referring to their earlier approval of a previous — and larger — iteration. “What I can’t afford to do is be in limbo.”

Like it or not, that’s exactly where he is. Maybe he should just sell the place to the Chumash. I’m sure they’d love a South Coast casino with such easy freeway access.

                                                                 •        •        •

Oh, deer. Last week, a cow got a little pushy. This week, nature and cycling collide near Sausalito — and it’s all captured on a helmet cam.

(Silas Patlove 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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