Meh. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk file photo)
Meh. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk file photo)

Viva la Fiesta!

Santa Barbara’s 99th Old Spanish Days celebration is in full swing and I want to give a special olé to my friend, El Presidente David Bolton, for the energy and innovation he’s brought to the festivities.

It’s quite the party he’s pulled off, and he’s opened so much more of it to the community.

I still wish El Desfile Histórico would return to its historical parade route on State Street downtown, but Santa Barbara wasn’t built in a day. Or a century. Maybe next year.

According to our Google Analytics tracking, Noozhawk had an audience of 85,528 readers this past week.

What you are about to read is my recap of the Top Five most-read stories over the past week. As always, this is my opinion column and not a news story.

1. Bill Macfadyen: After 155 Years, Santa Barbara News-Press Leaves Without Saying a Word

I want to thank the scores of readers who thanked me for my comments and observations about Santa Barbara’s late newspaper. And by “late,” I don’t mean tardy.

It’s still hard to believe that it’s really gone but, if we’re all being honest, the newspaper died back in 2000 when its last owner bought it and immediately changed the culture.

It also would become the opening for Noozhawk, though. For that, I am eternally grateful.

2. Injuries Reported in Multivehicle Crash on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara

At least one person was injured Tuesday afternoon in a multi-vehicle collision on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara.
Caught in the middle on Highway 101. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

A three-vehicle collision on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara put one woman in the hospital and shut down the southbound freeway for about a half-hour the afternoon of Aug. 1.

As our Tom Bolton was first to report, the California Highway Patrol said the crash happened just before 2:30 p.m. near the southbound State Street exit ramp.

Santa Barbara fire Capt. Matt Wilson told Tom that the female driver was injured when her car was rear-ended at a high rate of speed.

The woman was taken by an American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Her identity and medical condition were not disclosed.

CHP Officer Michael Fabila said all three freeway lanes were shut down until about 2:50 p.m., when two of the lanes were reopened.

The CHP is investigating the circumstances of the collision.

3. New Lights, Art, Sidewalks Part of Approved $11 Million Transformation of State Street Undercrossing

As part of an $11 million renovation proposed for the 300 block of State Street that the Santa Barbara City Council is expected to approve Tuesday, the street will be narrowed to one vehicle lane in both directions while the sidewalks and bike lanes will be widened. (City of Santa Barbara rendering)
Don’t look at it as a very long walk, but as an $11 million public art experience. (City of Santa Barbara rendering)

Who among us hasn’t dreamed of hanging out under a freeway bridge?

Can there be anything more idyllic than cars and semi trucks whizzing past overhead while you chill in the shade with some weed and a 40-ounce Bud Light the liquor store was practically giving away?

Well, the Santa Barbara City Council is about to make that fantasy a reality, thanks to an $11 million commitment to transform the State Street underpass at Highway 101 into a “gateway” to downtown.

As our Josh Molina reported, the council on Aug. 1 unanimously approved a batch of construction contracts to narrow the four-lane 300 block of the street to one vehicle lane in each direction, widen the sidewalks and bike lanes, add public art and new lighting, replace the wall plantings, and other stuff.

The project is to begin this fall and take 18 months to complete — at which point tourists will be lured through the magic portal into the mishmash of downtown’s identity crisis from the bustling waterfront and Funk Zone.

“This is really exciting,” Councilwoman Alejandra Gutierrez gushed. “A lot of locals are really going to be excited about it, but the tourists will, too.”

Mm-hmm. I can’t wait.

4. Carpinteria Rolls Out Ready-to-Go Prototypes of Accessory Dwelling Units for Homeowners

George Manuras, center, was the first contractor to get an ADU permit in Carpinteria.
The City of Carpinteria has taken the first step on its innovative approach to accessory dwelling units. (City of Carpinteria photo)

Like every other community in Santa Barbara County, Carpinteria has a housing shortage.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved an accessory dwelling unit ordinance so homeowners could build ADUs on their properties.

In an innovative twist, the city unveiled ready-to-go prototypes to make the process easier.

As our Rebecca Caraway reported, Carpinteria’s program offers two user-friendly plans, one for 400 square feet and the other for 480 square feet, each in either a coastal cottage or California ranch style.

Created in collaboration with RRM Design Group, the plans are pre-approved by the city’s Building and Safety Division. Coastal development and building permits are still required, however.

George Manuras, a contractor with Seascape Realty, is the first contractor to get an ADU permit from the city and says he hopes to complete the project in the next few months.

“The people who were wanting to do it now … are really receptive of the city’s plans because it’s already done for them and it’s a nice-sized unit,” he told Rebecca.

He said he plans to use the prototypes for three upcoming ADU projects.

Architect Dylan Chappell of Chappell Architects says he’s cautiously optimistic about the prototypes but noted several challenges with one-size-fits-all solutions.

“Every property is different, every location, the access to the views, the yard, and every homeowner is different,” he told Rebecca. “So to try and have one plan that works for everybody can be difficult.”

The ADUs are not permitted for use as short-term vacation rentals, and the ordinance requires a minimum 31-day lease. 

“The intention is to provide long-term housing for Californians,” said Syndi Souter, an associate planner for the City of Carpinteria.

5. BizHawk: Santa Barbara Public Market Booming with New Restaurants, Art Exhibits

Santa Barbara Public Market art gallery.
The Santa Barbara Public Market has taken art to heart. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

While downtown Santa Barbara has been struggling to create a community on State Street, at least until that cool new underpass is completed, the Santa Barbara Public Market has emerged as one.

Bursting with energy, the privately owned public marketplace — at 38 W. Victoria St. at the corner of Chapala Street — features a beer garden, an array of restaurants, and indoor and outdoor dining.

It recently added an exhibit of local artists with plans to make it permanent.

As our Josh Molina reported, Three Monkeys restaurant opened inside the market a few months ago and an authentic Jewish deli will be opening soon.

Three Monkeys is a spinoff of market mate Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, both of which are owned by Nui Pannak, Empty Bowl’s chef.

Pannak’s newest creation is said to be “inspired by street food favorites from her native Thailand as well as Vietnam” and features skewered meats, chicken satay, Bangkok grilled beef (neua ping) and Thai-style grilled pork (moo ping).

Public Market owner Travis Twining says a top-quality Jewish deli is on the way, too.

“We have taken our time finding the right operator …,” he said. “There’s nothing quite like it in the Santa Barbara area, let alone downtown.”

As for the art on the walls, the market is temporarily displaying works by Chadillac, Delmar León, Johnny Onionseed and Kelly Clause. It expects to create a permanent gallery space featuring rotations of local artists.

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Good Reads

Here are six other stories you should not miss:

» Mark Patton: Remembering the Unfulfilled Destiny of Local Legend Craig Gilbert — As only he can do, sports columnist Mark Patton tells the story of a Santa Barbara legend who experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and yet never lost hope or his identity.

» Coroner Identifies Person Struck, Killed by Train Near Santa Barbara — Executive editor Tom Bolton has an update on the 56-year-old Santa Barbara man who was struck and killed by a freight train on Aug. 1.

» Cuyama Valley Residents Call for Boycott of Carrots After Two Growers Sue Landowners Over Water Rights — North County editor Janene Scully digs into the fierce battle over water rights in the Cuyama Valley, with the plucky Cuyamans standing up to two giant produce growers that are throwing their weight around.

» County Planning Commission Hears Dispute Over Summerland Home’s Landscaping Plan — Managing editor Giana Magnoli sits in as Summerland neighbors take their land dispute to the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission.

» Inmates Stopped After Attempting Escape from Santa Barbara County Jail — Tom also tells the tale of the five-inmate jailbreak attempt that was thwarted at the Santa Barbara County main jail on July 31.

» Dancers Take Center Stage as La Fiesta Pequeña Kicks Off Old Spanish Days — Our newest staff writer, Rebecca Caraway, is covering her first Old Spanish Days celebration. I don’t remember if we warned her about cascarónes and “La Bamba.” Viva la Fiesta!

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Stabbing on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara Sends Man to Hospital.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

This is alarming: Wildfires Were Rare in the Mojave Desert, But Record-Breaking Fire Shows Why That’s Changing.

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Here’s What I’m Up To

  • Aug. 31 — I’ll be speaking to Dan Lane’s “News, Politics & Democracy” class at UCSB. We’ll be discussing Noozhawk’s origins, evolution and future, as well as journalism’s overall role in our country and culture.

Also, as I noted last week, Noozhawk is no longer a sponsor of the Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo so there won’t be a drawing for a mutton bustin’ rider this year.

There’s more than one rodeo in Santa Barbara County, however, and we’ve already been in touch with the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo about next year.

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Best of Bill’s Instagram

My Instagram feed has had a quiet week, but I’ll get busy for next time.

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Watch It

Teamwork makes the dream work — with or without water. HT to Best of Bill reader Hank Shaw.

YouTube video
(Sam video)

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