Monday, March 19 , 2018, 4:23 pm | Fair 67º


Local News

Bill Macfadyen: Slippery Sea Lion’s Great Escape Lands with a Thud But Has a Happier Ending

NoozWeek’s Top 5 hangs out with the Shalhoobs, makes a Stand in the Sand, investigates a suspicious fire, and splashes through a soggy underpass

There were 83,878 people who read​ Noozhawk this past week, and no metric system was needed. Here are your top stories:

1. Oil-Coated Sea Lion Makes Escape from Truck on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara

A sea lion caught up in the Refugio Beach oil spill was rescued, and authorities decided the animal would be better off being transported to Sea World in San Diego for treatment of oil exposure.

The sea lion had other ideas, however. It hit the road — literally — while being driven through Santa Barbara on the afternoon of May 29.

As our Tom Bolton first reported, the wily mammal managed to escape from its cage and jump out of the back of a truck on southbound Highway 101 just west of the Highway 154 exit.

“They’re very clever animals,” explained Alexia Retallack, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.​

9-1-1 callers first reported the unusual sight as an injured dog on the freeway.

Retallack said the sea lion was rescued — again — by Santa Barbara County Animal Services officers, and was checked out by personnel from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network from UC Davis.

“It turns out it was OK,” she said.

The escape artist was loaded back on the truck and sent on its way. For the sea lion’s own good, I hope its handlers double-checked the locks the second time. 

L.J. Shalhoob believes his family’s Shalhoob Meat Co. will add some authentic local flavor to the Funk Zone foodie scene. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
L.J. Shalhoob believes his family’s Shalhoob Meat Co. will add some authentic local flavor to the Funk Zone foodie scene. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

2. BizHawk: Family Behind Shalhoob Meat Co. Plans to Open Funk Zone Patio Deli

With all the food and drinking establishments sprouting up in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, it was just a matter of time before one of the neighborhood’s venerable occupants —which just happens to be a mainstay purveyor of local meat — would see an opportunity of its own.

Shalhoob Meat Co. — which has been in the Funk Zone since long before the Funk Zone was cool — is awaiting the city’s all-clear to open a dining patio at 220 Gray Ave.

The concept, to be called Shalhoob’s Funk Zone Patio, includes a comfortable outdoor space for hanging out along with a deli serving variations of the custom-cut meats and poultry the butcher shop is known for — including tri-tip sandwiches. Local beer and wine are on the horizon, as well.

The idea is the brainchild of L.J. Shalhoob, who, with his sister, Leeandra, manages the company. They’re the third generation to be involved in the family-owned and operated business their grandfather, Jerry, founded in 1973 and relocated to its present location four years later.

The family constellation also includes one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Jill’s Place, run by their aunt, Jill Shalhoob, at 632 Santa Barbara St. My Instagram feed contains ample evidence of my fondness for Jill’s steaks, buttermilk fried chicken and the best turkey cranberry sandwich ever. But I digress.

Shalhoob Meat Co.​ traditionally has been a wholesale vendor for restaurants and hotels, but has expanded into off-site catering and corporate lunch services. Cooking classes are in the works.

“Now we’re catering to the public,” Shalhoob told our Gina Potthoff. “This is our vision. It really got us excited.”

Anti-oil protesters in Santa Barbara pipe up over a pipe down. (Urban Hikers photo)
Anti-oil protesters in Santa Barbara pipe up over a pipe down. (Urban Hikers photo)

3. In Response to Oil Spill, Demonstrators Make Stand in the Sand for Alternative Energy

Carting a giant, symbolic pipeline on their shoulders and waving colorful signs, an estimated 500 demonstrators marched to West Beach from De la Guerra Plaza on May 31, protesting against the Refugio Beach oil spill and what they consider to be other fossil fuel failings.

As our Ana Mezic reported from the scene, the anti-oil rally featured guest speakers, a panoply of local politicians, creative chants and a restless audience upset about the May 19 breach along the Gaviota coast, the environmental impacts, and the extent of the response and cleanup operations.

Once at the beach, the crowd formed a single-file line to take a “Stand in the Sand.”

While the frustration was evident, many of the day’s speakers confidently vowed to use the crisis as a catalyst for new laws, more clean energy opportunities, and support for the green cause and its aftereffects. 

“We need to protect and preserve our life support system,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. “We are the only species on the planet that has the choice and the privilege not to disappear.”

Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.

(Noozhawk and Urban Hikers video)

4. ‘Suspicious’ Fire Damages 3 Trucks, Business in Santa Barbara

An early morning fire badly damaged a trio of trucks at a business on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside on May 30. Authorities are calling the circumstances “suspicious.”

According to Santa Barbara fire Battalion Chief Robert Mercado, firefighters responded to a 2:30 a.m. alarm at Insulate SB, an insulation company at 130 N. Calle Cesar Chavez behind 101 Deli.

He said crews could see the flames and smoke as soon as they arrived, but they had to first cut their way through a metal driveway gate. Once inside the parking lot, they quickly put out the fire.

Three box trucks were badly burned and a nearby building had minor damage. The total damage estimate was $125,000.

Mercado said an arson investigator was summoned, and the fire was labeled as “suspicious.”

There were no injuries in the incident.

Caltrans is still looking for a dry run with the Castillo Street underpass at Highway 101. Good luck with that. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
Caltrans is still looking for a dry run with the Castillo Street underpass at Highway 101. Good luck with that. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

5. Caltrans Making Another Effort to Mop Up Soggy Castillo Underpass

Every few years, Caltrans engineers announce a new and improved tactic to keep the roadway dry through the Castillo Street underpass at Highway 101.

You have to admire the optimism ... because it never stays fixed. When the street is 10 feet below the water table, why would it?

If you’ve driven through the area recently, you know it’s time for the next new idea. Right on cue, Caltrans has its traffic cones at the ready.

This time, Caltrans project manager David Beard told our Lara Cooper, the plan is to install interlocking concrete pavers on the street itself as well as on the surface of the freeway entrance and exit ramps.

Although interlocking pavers were among the many previous failures, engineers are going to try placing them in sections bordered by concrete curbs.

“They won’t have as much room to move around,” Beard said, adding that future repairs could be handled one section at a time, cutting down on the inconvenience for motorists.

The $800,000-plus project is expected to begin this summer. Traffic will be disrupted for about two months, but Beard said one lane of traffic will be open in each direction at all times.

Officials are reluctant to dig into a permanent fix because of the cost and accompanying congestion at the intersection, which is a primary gateway to both the harbor and Santa Barbara City College.

These are valid considerations to be sure, but when you’re spending north of a half-million dollars every several years and expecting a different result, at some point ... you’re insane.

I’m no engineer, but if there’s a 3½-mile-long BART tunnel running under San Francisco Bay, why can’t a half-tunnel be constructed under 50-something yards of bridge work? You can add your comments below.

                                                                 •        •        •

Congratulations to Noozhawk intern Allison Wright on her upcoming graduation from UC Santa Barbara.

Allison spent the last few months with us as a copy-editing intern, and did a terrific job. We’re going to miss her, but we look forward to following what no doubt will be a successful career as an editor.

From all of your fans and friends on Team Noozhawk, thank you, Allison. Best wishes with your next adventure!

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web: How to Ship a Beluga Whale via UPS. The next time I need to air mail a 3,300-pound sea creature, or an oiled-up sea lion, Bland Matthews is my guy.

                                                                 •        •        •

Man, why didn’t I think of this when my boys were that age?

(Ashley Whitman 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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