What’s ahead for Bed Bath & Beyond? (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
What’s ahead for Bed Bath & Beyond? (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Earlier this month, Noozhawk welcomed two fledgling hawks to our nest: news staff writer Rebecca Caraway and sports staff writer Diego Sandoval.

Rebecca Caraway
Rebecca Caraway
Diego Sandoval
Diego Sandoval

The pair graduated in June from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where they earned journalism degrees and both held leadership roles with the school’s powerhouse Mustang News.

Rebecca, who grew up in Corona before moving to San Luis Obispo for school, worked in features and opinions at the Mustang News, and spent her senior year as opinion editor.

She had an interesting, year-long internship with Daily Dot, an innovative Austin, Texas-based digital media company that had her focusing on public records and investigative reporting. Our managing editor, Giana Magnoli, is eager to have her put that experience to use for us.

Rebecca joins our news team as a general assignment reporter, and her enthusiasm and curiosity have already had an impact. You can reach her at rcaraway@noozhawk.com.

Diego was an ubiquitous presence covering Cal Poly sports, with two years as a sports reporter before serving as the Mustang News’ sports editor his junior and senior years.

The previous two summers he was a stalwart freelancer for Noozhawk, working for our sports editor, Barry Punzal.

Of course, before Diego started covering sports for us, we were covering … him. The fifth-generation Santa Barbaran is a 2019 graduate of San Marcos High School, where he starred for the Royals’ baseball team and made plenty of plate appearances in Noozhawk stories.

Diego was already in midseason form when he arrived here after graduation, and the excitement he brings to his reporting is infectious.

The rookie is fitting in seamlessly with Barry and sports columnist Mark Patton, two local sports legends who recognize talent when they see it. You can reach Diego at dsandoval@noozhawk.com.

Not only are we grateful to have Rebecca and Diego on our team, I’m thrilled to have two more Cal Poly Mustangs join Giana (Class of 2009) and online advertising consultant Lauren Hodgins (’22) in the family.

Cal Poly’s Journalism Department is strong, energetic and imaginative, and its leadership also had the good sense to recruit Giana to the program’s advisory board earlier this year.

I’m looking forward to strengthening a mutually beneficial, “Learn by Doing” relationship with Cal Poly, as well as the opportunity to identify and hire the Gianas, Laurens, Rebeccas and Diegos of tomorrow.

But that’s all in our future. Looking back on our past, albeit from the last seven days, Noozhawk had an audience of 91,790 readers, according to our Google Analytics.

What follows is my own take on the Top 5 stories you were reading over the past week. And, by “my take,” I mean my opinion column.

That’s what this is — my opinion. It is not a news story.

1. BizHawk: Bed Bath & Beyond Nears Closure Amid Other Changes at Fairview Shopping Center

Time is short for Goleta’s Bed Bath & Beyond, but thrifty customers are able to get 50% to 75% off on the remaining inventory at the home furnishings store.

As our Josh Molina reported, the store — at 189 N. Fairview Ave. in the Fairview Shopping Center — is expected to close for good in the next month or so.

Although Bed Bath & Beyond previously filed for bankruptcy, online furniture and home furnishings retailer Overstock.com just acquired its assets in a $21.5 million deal and will rebrand itself as … Bed Bath & Beyond.

2. Board of Supervisors Approves Montecito Coral Casino Club Operations Changes

I vaguely remember the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club, back when it was open in 2019. (Bill Macfadyen / Noozhawk file photo)
I vaguely remember the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club, back when it was open in 2019. (Bill Macfadyen / Noozhawk file photo)

The long-shuttered Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club is one day closer to reopening after the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors formally denied an appeal of the private club’s change in its conditional use permit.

The historic club at 1281 Channel Drive is owned by Beanie Baby mogul Ty Warner, who also owns the Four Seasons Resort-The Biltmore Santa Barbara across the street.

Both properties are, or were, managed by the Four Seasons, which had all but eliminated the distinctions of a private social club — to the irritation of longtime members who found themselves increasingly sharing the place with hotel guests.

Warner took back control of the club in 2021 and applied for approval to open the Tydes restaurant to the public while restricting the rest of the complex to members and their guests.

The Montecito Planning Commission gave its consent but, as our Giana Magnoli reported, five club members subsequently filed an appeal.

According to Kim Seefeld, one of the appellants, the dissidents were concerned that the deal did not provide members with “reasonable protections” for the privacy of the club.

They later reached an agreement with Warner’s representatives, however.

As our Giana Magnoli reported, the supervisors voted 3-0 on July 11 to approve the amended application and officially deny the appeals.

Supervisors Das Williams, Steve Lavagnino and Bob Nelson voted for the project, while Supervisors Laura Capps and Joan Hartmann were absent.

As a 30-year Coral Casino member myself, I’ve all but forgotten when and why the club closed this latest time. The bigger mystery is when it will reopen.

I’m not holding my breath.

3. Lompoc Valley Residents Lament Loss of Landmark Walnut Orchard

Thousands of walnut trees have been cut down at the Hibbits Ranch on Highway 246 east of Lompoc, in a move the family says is necessary to save the fourth-generation ranch’s financial viability as an agricultural operation. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
Nuts. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Hibbits Ranch — a longtime landmark along Highway 246 east of Lompoc — is in the midst of a transformation that has left its familiar walnut orchard just a shell of its former self.

Locals who have driven past the property for decades don’t like the new look, but it’s been no less jarring for the family that owns it — a family that is now in its fourth generation of stewardship of the land.

Grower Art Hibbits told our Janene Scully that the walnut operation has been bleeding money for several years.

An even bigger threat is China, which has put down its own roots in the walnut market and has been aggressive in its attempts to corner it.

“They went from zero walnuts exported to the biggest exporter in the world so they wiped us out,” Hibbits said.

The clan made the painful decision to essentially clear the field, removing about 3,000 walnut trees and replacing them with vegetable crops.

Social media platforms have been abuzz with speculation about the property.

“I actually cried this morning when I passed by,” one poster wrote. “I didn’t know they tore them ALL out. Born and raised here. I loved seeing those perfect rows of trees, sun filtering in patterns on the ground below. They were beautiful.”

Hibbits can appreciate the sentiments.

“I understand,” he said. “A lot of wedding pictures and graduation pictures have been taken there.”

4. Restoration Hardware’s Move into Montecito May Spell Trouble for Future Big Retailers

The old fire station at 1486 East Valley Road in Montecito.
RH rn at 1486 East Valley Road in Montecito, but with plans to re-energize The Old Firehouse. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Restoration Hardware, the upscale furniture and home décor retailer now marketing itself as simply RH, has purchased a landmark Montecito building but its plans for the property have encountered more resistance than expected.

As our Josh Molina reported, RH brought its proposal to the Montecito Board of Architectural Review for conceptual scrutiny of the project at The Old Firehouse, the former Montecito fire station at 1486 East Valley Road.

The June 29 discussion centered on architectural elements at the historic building, a café and wine bar inside the showroom, and parking at the Upper Village property.

The initial plan would use about 5,064 square feet for RH, another 1,352 square feet for a café and bar, and 612 square feet for an outdoor dining patio on the east side of the building.

Steve Sebastian, construction director for the Corte Madera company, assured the board that RH values architectural integrity and respects its surroundings.

“We believe in finding great architecture or building it,” he said, adding that the goal is to blend home, hospitality, retail and residential features.

A number of residents objected to various aspects — and perceived aspects — of the project, and turned to the Montecito Association for help.

In response, the association — on whose board I serve, I must disclose — is exploring how best to request that guardrails be erected to ensure that future commercial developments are compatible with the Montecito Community Plan and the community’s semi-rural character.

Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Das Williams has indicated he would be open to bringing forward an ordinance specifically addressing the presence of national chains in Montecito, but making sausage is not as swift or as smooth as it sounds.

5. Lompoc Teen Killed in Santa Maria Shooting Had Been Wounded in June Incident

A Lompoc teenager was shot and killed in Santa Maria the night of July 7 in an incident that Santa Maria police suspect was gang-related.

14-year-old Monte Tagalu was in between his freshman and sophomore years at Lompoc’s Cabrillo High School. (Tagalu family photo)

In a twist to the tragedy, the victim — identified by his family as 14-year-old Monte Tagalu — had been wounded in another shooting a few weeks before in Lompoc.

As our Janene Scully reported, the Santa Maria shooting occurred about 10 p.m. in a clandestine car and truck meetup in the parking lot of a former Costco at 1335 S. Bradley Road.

Police Lt. Daniel Rios said Tagalu was killed and a 21-year-old Guadalupe man was wounded in the altercation.

The second victim, whose name was not released, was taken to a hospital but his wounds were not thought to be life-threatening.

Rios said Santa Maria and Lompoc police are collaborating on the investigation, and trying to determine if the two incidents are connected.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Santa Maria police via the department’s anonymous tip line.

Tagalu was about to start his sophomore year at Lompoc’s Cabrillo High School, and was remembered for his “beautiful smile and a laugh that made everyone else laugh.”

Details about the earlier Lompoc shooting were scarce but, sadly, Tagalu’s killing in Santa Maria wasn’t the family’s only heartbreak in the last few weeks. His sister’s fiancé died June 19 when his pickup truck slammed into a tree on Highway 246 east of Buellton.

GoFundMe account has been established to assist Tagalu’s family with funeral expenses. As of July 14, the site had raised more than $9,500. Click here to make an online donation.

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Good Reads

Here are a half-dozen other stories that are worth your time:

» City of Santa Barbara Employee Engagement Survey Finds Room for Improvement — Don’t look for Santa Barbara City Hall on any lists of great places to work. Staff writer Josh Molina shares what a 2022 employee survey says, or at least the sanitized version that city officials would let him see after Noozhawk had to file a California Public Records Act request to get even that.

» Yardi Systems Wants to Build 374 Apartments at Goleta Headquarters — Josh takes a closer look at a major Goleta employer’s blueprint to help ease the shortage of workforce housing.

» Heat Wave Arrives in Santa Barbara County — It’s gonna be hot this weekend. Staff writer Serena Guentz has some tips on how to stay cool(er).

» Santa Barbara Man Will Face Trial on Murder Charge in Stearns Wharf Shooting — The wheels of justice are moving, barely, in the alleged gang shootout at Stearns Wharf that killed an innocent bystander, Camarillo resident Rob Gutierrez. Staff writer Rebecca Caraway has an update on the case that City of Santa Barbara officials would just as soon go away.

» Plenty of Free Movies, Film Festivals to Check Out This Summer — It’s summertime and the living — and entertainment — is easy and often free. Rebecca has a roundup of ideas to fill your bill.

» Cole Schoenwetter Drafted No. 105 Overall by Cincinnati Reds in 2023 MLB Draft — Sports writer Diego Sandoval has the scouting report on former San Marcos High star pitcher Cole Schoenwetter, who likely will be trading his Royal blue for Cincinnati red. Diego also has reports on other local standouts whose names were called in the Major League Baseball draft earlier this week.

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Missile Test Ends in Explosion Seconds After Launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Food for thought: Empty Office Buildings Are Being Turned Into Vertical Farms.

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Best of Bill’s Instagram

#myfavoritepalmtree, @thirdwindowbrewing smashburgers, vintage #mailboxesofmontecito2013 and an old diorama that is more frozen in time than first thought. It’s all in my Instagram feed.

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Watch It

Bronco the Bernadoodle’s surfing technique is as smooth as they come. HT to my friend, Brad Frohling, and his daughter, Madeline, the vide-dog-rapher.

YouTube video
(Madeline Frohling video)

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.