Downtown Santa Barbara fight
Fight Clubbin’ in downtown Santa Barbara. Credit: John Palminteri / KEYT News photo

So that break in Santa Barbara County’s squally weather lasted for all of a week. By the time you read this, we could be riding an atmospheric river for the weekend. Let’s hope it’s a smooth one.

Team Noozhawk has our rain gear ready and will keep you updated throughout the day and night as the latest wet winter storm system slides down the coast.

According to our Google Analytics, we had an audience of 105,258 readers over the last week.

What follows is my recap of the Top 5 stories you were reading over that period. And by “my recap,” I mean my opinion column. That’s what this is.

1. 2 Men Hospitalized After Fight on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara

Downtown Santa Barbara was hopping the night of March 4 when an altercation escalated into a stabbing and two men were taken to the hospital.

Santa Barbara police Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale told our Tom Bolton that officers arrived in the 500 block of State Street, between Cota and Haley streets, just before 10 p.m.

“Officers determined there was a physical altercation between several individuals that started inside a local business and spilled out onto the street,” he said.

One man had been stabbed in the abdomen and the other had facial injuries, Ragsdale said.

He said their injuries were not considered to be life-threatening, but both were taken by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

No arrests were made and no identities were disclosed. Ragsdale said the men did not know each other and one of them was not a local.

And I know what everyone is thinking — unless you’re a Santa Barbara city official:

“This incident was not gang related,” Ragsdale added.

2. Under Pressure from Goleta, Santa Barbara County Now Considering Montecito Housing Site

While no Montecito locations were identified for possible housing in Santa Barbara County’s proposed new Housing Element, a Montecito company reportedly has stepped forward with an expressed interest in building on-site employee housing.
Montecito’s stated population of 10,000 is a nice, round number, but Goleta thinks it’s not enough. Credit: Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo

G0leta’s full-court press on Santa Barbara County’s controversial Housing Element proposal may have paid off in the short term.

After the county released its draft Housing Element that placed most of the new 4,500 potential South Coast housing unit sites in and around Goleta, the City Council blasted the the move as unfair.

In a bluntly worded letter to the Board of Supervisors, the council called out the absence of “more affluent, white and larger-lot/underutilized” neighborhoods from the rezoned areas, pointing directly at Hope Ranch, Montecito and Summerland.

As our Josh Molina reported March 5, at least one Montecito site has since been added to the allotment, which is required by the State of California to “solve” the chronic housing crisis.

“There were no sites in Montecito that conformed to the state’s guidelines,” Lisa Plowman, the county’s director of planning and development, told Josh in an email.

“However, since we released the draft document we have been contacted by an employer in Montecito that is interested in building employee housing on their site.”

Plowman didn’t identify that employer, but Josh had the scoop in a Noozhawk exclusive the next day: the Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort at 1759 S. Jameson Lane.

“We felt it was prudent to raise our potential need for future additional employee housing units at the Miramar, adding to the four units we currently have,” a spokesman for Caruso, the company that owns the luxury resort, told Josh.

Caruso didn’t mention a number, although I’ve heard the figure is 12 — hardly enough to make a dent but not nothing to those hotel employees lucky enough to score on-site housing.

For the record, Josh’s Miramar story actually was the No. 4 most-read story of the week.

3. Motorcyclist Killed in Collision on Foxen Canyon Road Near Sisquoc

A blue car and a blue motorcycle involved in a fatal crash on Foxen Canyon Road near Sisquoc on Sunday.
A tragic meeting on Foxen Canyon Road led to the death of a Righetti High School student near Foxen Vineyard & Winery. Credit: Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo

A Righetti High School senior was killed the morning of March 5 when the motorcycle he was riding crossed into the oncoming lane and collided head-on with a car on Foxen Canyon Road near Sisquoc.

As our Tom Bolton and Janene Scully reported, the collision between a Honda Accord and a Yamaha R6 motorcycle occurred about 10 a.m. in the 7600 block of Foxen Canyon Road, near Foxen Vineyard & Winery about 10 miles east of Orcutt.

The motorcyclist — identified as 18-year-old Nathan Johnson of Santa Maria — was ejected in the crash.

Passers-by performed CPR on him before first responders arrived, but Santa Barbara County fire Capt. Scott Safechuck said he was declared dead at the scene.

The Honda driver, identified as 42-year-old Bobbie Dowdy of Arroyo Grande, and her passenger were not hurt in the wreck. Physically anyway.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision, but officials said alcohol, drugs and weather were not factors.

4. Amtrak Train Collides with Wood-Chipper Along Gaviota Coast

Emergency personnel responded Friday to a collision between an Amtrak train and a wood-chipper along the Gaviota Coast.
A train and a wood-chipper collide. Which one wins? Credit: Santa Barbara County Fire Department photos

To paraphrase Marge Gunderson, “I guess that was your train in the wood-chipper?”

As our Tom Bolton reported, a northbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner collided with a wood-chipper the morning of March 3 just south of El Capitán State Beach.

Santa Barbara County fire Capt. Scott Safechuck said there were no injuries on the passenger train, and the driver of the truck towing the wood-chipper declined medical treatment.

The wood-chipper was a goner, however, and the Amtrak train had significant damage.

The train was delayed for about 90 minutes before it was able to limp on its way.

5. Man Seriously Hurt in Altercation Near Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara

An altercation near Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf left one man with serious injuries in the early morning hours of March 4.

Police Cmdr. Kasi Corbett told our Tom Bolton that the victim flagged down passing officers about 1 a.m. near Cabrillo Boulevard and State Street.

“Preliminary investigation indicates that this may have been a dispute between two individuals who may be unhoused,” she said. “However, that has yet to be confirmed.”

Corbett said the victim suffered a major facial laceration and was taken by an American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The man, whose identity was not disclosed, was reported in critical but stable condition.

No arrests had been made, but Corbett said the incident was under investigation.

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Good Reads

Here are six more stories you should read before you go:

» La Cumbre Plaza Housing Project Exceeds Height Limit and Needs Environmental Review, City Says — Staff writer Josh Molina tells the tall tale of the 685-unit housing development proposed at Santa Barbara’s La Cumbre Plaza.

» Santa Barbara County Planning Commission Agrees to Accept Solomon Hills Project Application — North County editor Janene Scully begins reporting on what promises to be a long-term project: A new community proposed for Solomon Hills south of Orcutt.

» City of Solvang Falls Victim to Phishing Scam, Loses $538,000 — Something phishy victimizes Solvang, and Janene has the receipts.

» Storm-Related Repairs Continue at Goleta Beach Park; Some Areas Remain Closed — Staff writer Serena Guentz stops by storm-battered Goleta Beach Park to provide an update for readers eager to get back to the beach, and the pier.

» Grace Fisher Foundation’s Inclusive Arts Clubhouse Gives People of All Abilities a Place to Connect — Staff writer Grace Kitayama checks in with the Grace Fisher Foundation and its mission to connect children with disabilities to music, art and dance.

» Defense, Bailey Fong Step Up to Send Westmont Women to NAIA Round of 16 — For the third year in a row, and for the last time, the Westmont College women’s basketball team is headed to the NAIA National Tournament. Sports editor Barry Punzal has the score and more.

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Teen Sentenced to 7 Years After Admitting Killing 2 Local College Students in Goleta.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Lake Huron gives up a ghost: 129-Year-Old Vessel Still Tethered to Lifeboat Found on Floor of Lake Huron. HT to retired merchant mariner Drew Renfrow, a loyal Best of Bill reader with a passion for shipwreck stories.

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Best of Bill’s Instagram

Sunset skies give my Instagram feed a pastel look this past week.

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Watch It

Thank you to Best of Bill reader Marjorie Weir for this stress relief. I feel better already.

(El Burro Grande video)
A dark-haired man in glasses with a beard and a mustache smiles at the camera

William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher

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