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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 9:04 am | Fair 42º


Bill Macfadyen: ‘Dead Body’ in the Street Turns Out to Be Dead Body in the Street

Among NoozWeek’s Top 5 are 2 motorcycle crashes, a house fire that displaces 3, David Lack’s going to prison, and Westlake Village, ‘the Santa Barbara to the east’

There were 74,991 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What’s my take on your top stories? I’m glad you asked.

1. Police Respond to Fatal Medical Emergency in Santa Barbara​​

Santa Barbara police and firefighters zipped over to East Victoria Street on the afternoon of Nov. 7, responding to a report of a man found lying unresponsive on the pavement near the Victoria Market at Olive Street.

“Fire and medics worked to revive the man for quite a while,” police Sgt. Brian Jensen told Noozhawk.

But it was not to be, and he was declared dead at the scene.

Police said the death did not appear to be suspicious. The man — whose identity was not immediately disclosed — appeared to have been working on his small recreational vehicle, which was parked where he was found.

The Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Bureau is investigating.

In one of Santa Barbara’s typical six degrees of separation, I learned later that a friend of mine had been driving past, thought he saw a dead body, stopped and discovered it was a dead body, and gamely administered CPR until emergency crews arrived.

I’m told the dead man was homeless and had been living in his vehicle, often at that location.

After my column was posted, Noozhawk reader Cheri Rae, who lives in the neighborhood, contacted me with more information. It turns out it’s more heart-breaking than even the bleak circumstances suggested.

Cheri said the dead man’s name was Richard Springer, he was 73 years old, and he had been quietly living in his minivan at that precise location for more than 15 years. The Ohio native with piercing blue eyes was well known to residents, who seemed to accept and respect the unusual living arrangement as part of the fabric of life in the eclectic neighborhood of neatly kept bungalows.

On Veterans Day, more than 30 of them gathered outside Victoria Market to share their memories of the former Army medic.

“His presence was very important; he bent, broke some stereotypes and provided us with a different perspective,” Cheri quoted one neighbor as saying. “We went way beyond tolerance into acceptance.”


Crash-landing scene. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)
Crash-landing scene. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

2. Motorcyclist Seriously Hurt in Crash Near Santa Barbara

A motorcycle and an SUV collided on Cathedral Oaks Road near Highway 154 on Nov. 10. The motorcyclist took the brunt of that hit.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the crash occurred around 3 p.m. when the motorcyclist, riding west on Cathedral Oaks, ran into a GMC SUV, which was coming off the southbound exit ramp from Highway 154.

The motorcyclist was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with moderate injuries. The SUV driver was not hurt.

Early the next morning, another motorcycle collided with a vehicle in front of the Goleta Public Library in the 400 block of North Fairview Avenue.

Two people were injured in that crash and, again, it was the motorcyclist who got the worst of it. He was taken by ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with serious injuries. 

Both incidents remain under investigation, the CHP said.

Burn notice. (Robert Mercado / Santa Barbara Fire Department photo)
Burn notice. (Robert Mercado / Santa Barbara Fire Department photo)

3. Residents Homeless After Blaze at Santa Barbara Home

Three Santa Barbara residents were displaced after a fire broke out at their Upper Chapala Street home the night of Nov. 6. There were no injuries in the blaze.

According to Fire Battalion Chief Robert Mercado, the fire was reported around 8:30 p.m. at the single-story house in the 2000 block of Chapala Street, between Mission and West Padre streets.

Firefighters quickly quelled the fire, which started in a back bedroom. Mercado said the blaze appeared to be accidental, and damages were estimated at $40,000.

The male resident of the unit was not home at the time of the fire, but a woman in an adjacent unit was able to escape with her dogs. Her husband also was not at home at the time.

The American Red Cross-Santa Barbara County Chapter helped find alternative lodging for the primary resident, who also received financial assistance through a new SBFD initiative, the Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency program.

The couple at the home planned to stay with neighbors.

4. Santa Barbara Contractor David Lack Sentenced to Prison

Disgraced Santa Barbara contractor David Lack has been sentenced to nearly 10 years in state prison after being found guilty of stealing more than $1.5 million from two Santa Barbara banks and a former friend.

Lack, president of Lack Construction Co., was convicted of three counts of grand theft in the case, which involved defaulting on more than $1.2 million in commercial loans — one from The Bank of Santa Barbara and the other from Rabobank — as well as a $300,000 personal loan from a woman who thought he was her friend.

The jury couldn’t agree on a fourth count of filing a false tax return, although I imagine the IRS has its own way of settling scores.

On Nov. 6, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Jean Dandona sentenced Lack to nine years and eight months in prison. She also ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $1.2 million to The Bank of Santa Barbara, $600,500 to Rabobank and $300,000 to his former friend, Mary Belle Snow. That’s a lot of license plates to make.

Earlier this year, Lack was charged separately with tax evasion, failure to pay unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation fraud, contracting while his contractor’s license was suspended, and grand theft. If convicted on those charges, he faces an additional 11 years and eight months in the slammer.

A preliminary hearing on the second case is set for Nov. 21.

With the presence of Jeannine’s Bakery and a half-dozen other Santa Barbara restaurants at The Shoppes at Westlake Village, locals from here may feel right at home among locals there. (Jeannine’s Bakery photo)
With the presence of Jeannine’s Bakery and a half-dozen other Santa Barbara restaurants at The Shoppes at Westlake Village, locals from here may feel right at home among locals there. (Jeannine’s Bakery photo)

5. Westlake Village Getting Big Taste of Santa Barbara​

A child of the 1960s, Westlake Village is not generally known as “the Santa Barbara to the east.” Sure, many of the demographics are similar. And, as a prototype of large-scale master planning, there’s no doubt our local busybodies salivate over that kind of code enforcement power.

But I suspect some Santa Barbarans look down on Westlake Village as nouveau riche. I also suspect that Westlake Village people could not care less, or, if they do, they console themselves by laughing all the way to their banks.

Entrepreneurial Santa Barbara restaurateurs are taking a much different view of Westlake Village these days; they see a bounty of opportunity.

At the relatively new shopping center, The Shoppes at Westlake Village (take the Lindero Canyon Road exit on Highway 101), Westlake Villagers are enjoying or soon-to-be enjoying such Santa Barbara staples as Figueroa Mountain Brewing CompanyJeannine’s Bakery, Los Agaves Restaurant, Olio e Limone Ristorante, Olio Pizzeria and Hook Burger, which is the brainchild of Santa Barbara’s Brent Reichard of The Habit fame so we’ll claim it, too.

“We’ve had Westlake Village on our radar for over eight years now,” my friend, Olio empire owner Elaine Andersen Morello, told our Gina Potthoff. “It’s a logical extension of our brand, without going deep into L.A.”

According to Dan Selleck, president of Selleck Development Group, Santa Barbara businesses account for almost 22 percent of his Shoppes shopping center at 30770 Russell Ranch Road.

And if that’s not enough reason for a road trip, The Shoppes also boasts In-N-Out Burger and a brand-spanking new Target.

                                                                 •        •        •

This animation depicts a robotic spacecraft landing on a comet traveling at 83,885 mph. Think it can’t happen in real life? It just did.

(European Space Agency 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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