Dominic Shiach and his wife, Daisy DeForest, own The Daisy restaurant at 1221 State St. in Santa Barbara, and are learning the hard way about the cost of doing business here. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
Dominic Shiach and his wife, Daisy DeForest, own The Daisy restaurant at 1221 State St. in Santa Barbara, and are learning the hard way about the cost of doing business here. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Longtime Noozhawk fans and readers of these Best of Bill columns are well aware that I’m always thinking about fundraising.

But I have to. As a local independent professional news organization, it’s how we power and pay for our in-depth journalism that is making a real difference in Santa Barbara County.

Next week, we’re kicking off our year-end fundraising campaign, and I’m asking you to be a part of it.

You can help us by making a new monthly donation or one-time gift to help support our small team of reporters and editors — the hardest working such team around.

Our journalism has had a big impact in our community in 2023, and we have plans to keep the momentum going and growing in 2024. I’ll be sharing more about it in the coming weeks, including an exciting new initiative on housing.

As a Noozhawk and a Best of Bill reader, will you help us get off to a strong start by making a donation today?

Every contribution, no matter the size, makes a big difference in our company. And nearly every dollar is plowed right back into the indispensable local news and information that we bring you and that is available, 24/7.

Thank you in advance for your support!

•        •        •

Noozhawk had an audience of 151,149 readers this past week, according to our WordPress analytics.

What follows is my recap of the Top Five stories you were reading during that period. After last week’s deluge of bad news, I promised that this week would be better but I’m not sure we — you and I — delivered.

Before you read my first item, I must remind you that this is not a news story. It’s my opinion column, which I write in my civic capacity as Noozhawk’s publisher.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Santa Barbara Restaurant Faces Abrupt Parklet Removal Order for State Street Restriping

I often say that California is a hostile work environment for business.

The government’s prevailing attitude is that business can absorb any cockamamie idea with no negative consequence to the operation, or the bottom line.

As bad as the heavy-handed disdain from Sacramento is, the City of Santa Barbara more than holds its own.

Dominic Shiach and his wife, Daisy DeForest, are the latest to experience the full bureaucratic indifference.

As our Josh Molina was first to report, the owners of The Daisy restaurant received an official notification from the city — at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 9, the day before the official Veterans Day holiday — to remove their parklet at 1221 State St.

Beneath a heading of “REMOVAL NOTICE” in all-capital, red letters, the decree gave them a deadline of Nov. 12, all of two days.

You may recall that the City Council previously had authorized bike lanes on State Street and one-way traffic going north in the 1200 block to allow for passenger drop-offs and pick-ups in front of the nearby Granada Theatre.

Apparently, the city decided to commence work on Nov. 13, which was dictated by the availability of the contractor hired by the city to do the work the city was paying for, according to Sarah Clark, the downtown parking and plaza manager.

Shiach was stunned.

“It’s just simply, clearly, on the face of it, not fair,” he told Josh. “It is an unreasonable request.”

The Daisy parklet had seating for about 30 people, and Shiach explained that he would have to move the tables, benches, chairs and plants; secure the labor and a truck to haul everything away; and find a place to store it all.

Easy peasy on a holiday weekend.

“There’s not even an opportunity to speak to anyone about this,” Shiach complained. “It probably isn’t nefarious, but it felt like it might be.”

To no one’s surprise, this story blew up.

As of Nov. 14, The Daisy had crammed its tables and chairs into a corner next to Arigato Sushi’s parklet while Shiach holds out for a reprieve of some kind.

He told Josh that City Councilmen Eric Friedman and Oscar Gutierrez have given him hope that he may be able to keep the relocated parklet or move onto the sidewalk, if the overgrown shrubbery is removed.

“I felt I was being heard by the City Council,” Shiach said. “I hope it wasn’t merely lip service.”

There are so many infuriating aspects to The Daisy’s chain of events, but the episode highlights the inherent unfairness of the city’s arbitrary parklet experiment; the slapdash handling of State Street that has reached institutionalized chaos after 3½ years; and the sheer arrogance of an unaccountable city administration that doesn’t have the slightest clue or care about the concept of customer service.

It’s also yet one more argument for architect Cass Ensberg’s free proposal to improve State Street, but why fix a problem when you can perpetuate it? From the City of Santa Barbara’s point of view, that would be bad for business.

2. Bill Macfadyen: Teenager’s Death on Train Tracks Leads an Awful Run of Bad News

Shylah Alexander
Shylah Alexander died Nov. 6 at age 16. (Alexander family photo)

The Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Bureau is still investigating the circumstances of the heartbreaking death of 16-year-old Shylah Alexander.

The San Marcos High School student from Goleta was struck by an Amtrak train and killed around 9 a.m. Nov. 6, about a mile east of campus.

A celebration of her life is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 1 at McDermott-Crockett Mortuary Chapel, 2020 Chapala St. in Santa Barbara.

A GoFundMe account established to assist the family with funeral expenses had raised more than $21,000 as of Nov. 17. Click here to make an online donation.

3. Santa Ynez Collision Sends 4 Women to Hospital, One with Major Injuries

Four people were injured, one critically, in a collision on Highway 246 Monday afternoon in Santa Ynez. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
Cleaning up Highway 246. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

A two-car collision on Highway 246 in Santa Ynez sent four women to two hospitals the afternoon of Nov. 13.

One of the women suffered critical injuries, and authorities say she had to be extricated from the wreckage at the Cuesta Street intersection across from the Chumash Casino Resort.

As our Tom Bolton reported, Santa Barbara County fire Capt. Scott Safechuck said one woman in a Lexus sedan suffered major injuries and was airlifted by a Calstar medical helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

He said three women in a second Lexus were transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital with minor and moderate injuries.

No identities were disclosed.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the circumstances of the wreck.

4. Pedestrian Struck, Killed by Train in Santa Barbara

A 65-year-old Santa Barbara woman was struck by an Amtrak train and killed the morning of Nov. 11 on the Lower Eastside.

As our Tom Bolton reported, emergency personnel were dispatched around 10 a.m. to the Union Pacific tracks near the intersection of Cacique and South Quarantina streets, three blocks west of South Milpas Street.

Santa Barbara fire Capt. Joe Tieso said the dead woman — later identified as Eileen Pearl DuMong by Santa Barbara County sheriff’s spokeswoman Raquel Zick — had been hit by a northbound Pacific Surfliner as she apparently walked on the tracks.

The circumstances of her death are under investigation.

5. Bankruptcy Court OKs Terminating Santa Barbara News-Press Employee Retirement Plan

-30- (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk illustration)
Nothing should surprise you anymore. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk file illustration)

Just in time for the holidays, former employees of the hapless and now-defunct Santa Barbara News-Press are facing yet more financial distress after the parent company’s bankruptcy trustee terminated the 401(k) retirement plan.

As our Giana Magnoli reported, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Ronald Clifford III approved terminating the Nationwide Financial 401(k) employee benefit plan because Ampersand Publishing, the last owner of the 155-year-old daily newspaper, no longer exists.

As a cruel bonus for the 31 former employees banking on their retirement plan, the termination and IRS filing fees — totaling $13,884 — will be deducted from their accounts.

At the time of Ampersand Publishing’s bankruptcy filing in July, billionaire owner Wendy McCaw claimed in court documents that her company had about $5 million in debts, including payments owed to jilted ex-employees and vendors, and even less in assets.

This being Santa Barbara, of course, real estate is always an asset. But not in this case.

With remarkable foresight, McCaw several years ago had transferred ownership of the News-Press’ historic downtown building and its Goleta printing plant to another of her limited liability companies.

As a result, the two buildings — at 715 Anacapa St. and 725 S. Kellogg Ave., respectively — evidently are off-limits to her Ampersand Publishing creditors.

•        •        •

Good Reads

Check out these six stories before you go:

» Santa Barbara Teachers Blast School Board, District on Eve of Salary Negotiations — Staff writer Josh Molina has been doing his homework on Santa Barbara Unified School District contract negotiations with its teachers. He even has some extra credit this week.

» Orcutt Couple Plead ‘Bring Our Girls Home’ as Huskies Remain Missing — Ours is an Alaskan malamute family but I share the anxiety of the owners of a pair of Siberian huskies missing for more than two weeks. North County editor Janene Scully is on the trail, too.

» Nine Months After Damaging Storms, Goleta Beach County Park Still Awaits Repairs — What’s going on with the sad state of repairs at Goleta Beach Park? Staff writer Rebecca Caraway has the very disappointing answers.

» Ceremonies Across Santa Barbara County Salute Service of Veterans — Janene helps commemorate Veterans Day with her report on observances throughout Santa Barbara County.

» Judy Foreman: Rose Story Farm Makes Room for Blooms in Floral Benefit Gala — Lifestyle columnist Judy Foreman visits our friend, Dani Hahn, at Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria for a fresh floral fundraiser for Casa del Herrero in Montecito.

» Mark Patton: A Coach Named Alice Gave UC Santa Barbara Its Start in Men’s Basketball — Who is Alice Bradley and did the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos ever play basketball at the Santa Barbara YMCA? Sports columnist Mark Patton is glad you asked.

•        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Santa Barbara County Planners Propose Major Rezoning to Build Thousands of Housing Units.

•        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Oops: Lost in Space, an Astronaut’s Tool Bag Can be Seen Orbiting Earth.

•        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

Golden Hour and plenty of gray are in my Instagram feed this past week.

•        •        •

Watch It

The vest is yet to come.

YouTube video
(Holderness Family Music 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.