Fresco Café goes dark in downtown Santa Barbara.
Fresco Café goes dark in downtown Santa Barbara. Credit: Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo

Whether the reasons are promise, hope, expectation, relief or — in some cases — disbelief, graduations are a time to celebrate.

Noozhawk reporters and photographers already have been out and about covering commencement ceremonies throughout Santa Barbara County, and they’re about to get even busier.

In the meantime, we’re again honoring the achievements of new graduates — of all ages — with our free graduation announcements. Click here to fill out our easy form to add your grad to our Class of 2023 section.

Congratulations to all the proud new alumni in our midst, including upcoming Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo graduates Rebecca Caraway and Diego Sandoval, who will be joining Team Noozhawk in the next several weeks.

Congratulations also are due the Westmont Warriors baseball team, which will be playing for the NAIA World Series championship June 2 in Lewiston, Idaho.

The night of June 1, the Warriors — the winningest baseball team in school history — knocked out defending champion Southeastern University, 6-4, to advance to the title game against Lewis-Clark State College.

Closer to home, Noozhawk had an audience of 97,931 readers this past week, according to our Google Analytics.

What follows is my own take on the Top 5 stories you were reading over the last seven days.

I must remind you that this is my opinion column, not a news story. Also, I’m Noozhawk’s publisher, not a reporter.

1. Fresco Café in Santa Barbara Abruptly Closes for Good

After Fresco Café was priced out of its decades-old outpost at Santa Barbara’s Five Points Shopping Center, I thought the relocation to the historic and freshly renovated El Centro Building downtown seemed like a good move.

The restaurant at 23 E. Canon Perdido is a half-block from State Street and next-door to the Lobero Theatre. It also boasts a full-sun outdoor patio that actually is off-the-street and not in it.

Shows you how much I know.

On May 30, owner Mark Brouillard texted our Josh Molina to say he was closing for good.

He told Josh that he needed time to digest his own news before he could talk further, but he later posted a more formal note.

“In the 28 years we have been in business, we have made many friends and served thousands of customers,” he said.

“We remain very grateful for the opportunity to serve Santa Barbara for these many years. We have been fortunate to work with the best group of people anyone could hope for.”

We’ll let you know if there’s more to this story but, for now, let’s not forget there is a team of dedicated Fresco Café workers looking for new jobs.

2. Design Proposals for Santa Barbara’s State Street Spark Heated Debate

State Street rendering.
Santa Barbara’s got a lot riding on State Street. Credit: City of Santa Barbara rendering

Not that long ago, downtown was Santa Barbara’s pride and joy. Now? It just seems like it was that long ago.

Although I fear we’ll still be discussing what to do about State Street a hundred years from now, the city’s State Street Advisory Committee has been holding meetings on that very question.

Bless their hearts.

On May 25, MIG, the City of Santa Barbara’s latest highly paid consultant, presented three conceptual plans for the downtown zone. The meeting was a doozy.

Our Josh Molina captured the growing frustration among the competing — and seemingly unreconcilable — factions, as well as an emerging suspicion that there may already be a master plan for State Street that just hasn’t been shared with the rest of us yet.

If any of this is going to work, the community at large needs to be vigilant and make sure it’s something we want and will use. And can afford.

Read Josh’s account. It’s well worth your time.

3. Pair Taken Into Custody After Standoff at Westside Santa Barbara Residence

Two people were arrested Saturday after a lengthy standoff with police at a home on Mountain Avenue on Santa Barbara’s Westside
Not the most welcome way to start a Saturday. Credit: Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo

A suspected domestic disturbance led to an hours-long standoff with Santa Barbara police in a quiet Westside neighborhood the morning of May 27.

After three children were safely evacuated from the house, two adults surrendered and were placed under arrest.

As our Tom Bolton was first to report, police were dispatched about 8:45 a.m. to the 2000 block of Mountain Avenue after a 9-1-1 call about a possible disturbance.

“The reporting party described hearing several loud ‘bangs’ and subjects screaming inside a residence,” Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale told Tom.

After the responding officers were refused entry, officers set up a perimeter and the impasse was on.

The children were later sent out, and the two adult occupants eventually surrendered.

Ragsdale said 32-year-old Isai Perez was arrested and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of delaying an investigation/resisting an officer and child endangerment, both misdemeanors.

He said 29-year-old Vanessa Ayala was cited for alleged misdemeanor delaying an investigation/resisting an officer and child endangerment.

There were no injuries in the incident.

4. Highway 101 Construction Starting Soon for Montecito Section

The Montecito segment of the Highway 101: Carpinteria to Santa Barbara project adding a third lane in each direction.
Construction disruption ahead. Credit: Santa Barbara County Association of Governments illustration

The slow roll of the Highway 101 widening project is about to accelerate for Montecito, a semi-rural community that — like Carpinteria before it — is ill-equipped to absorb increased traffic congestion on limited surface streets.

But the pain is a necessary inconvenience, and our Giana Magnoli outlines the timeline of the next phase of the nearly $1 billion project.

When completed, the joint venture of Caltrans and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments will have widened a 16-mile stretch of the freeway between Santa Barbara and the Ventura County line east of Carpinteria.

Two Montecito roundabouts — one at the intersection of Coast Village and Olive Mill roads and the other at San Ysidro Road and North Jameson Lane — are already under construction, with northbound freeway entrance and exit ramps offline for the foreseeable future.

The actual widening work starts later this month and will join the Summerland and Padaro Lane phases that are already in progress.

Click here for more information about the Highway 101: Carpinteria to Santa Barbara project.

5. BizHawk: Los Altos Mexican Restaurant Expands to Old Town Goleta

Los Altos Mexican Restaurant in Old Town Goleta.
Orange you glad Los Altos Mexican Restaurant has opened in Old Town Goleta? Credit: Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo

Los Altos Mexican Restaurant, a Milpas Street mainstay on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside, has opened a second location, this one at 5892 Hollister Ave. in Old Town Goleta.

As our Josh Molina reported, the restaurant reflects owner Albert Gonzalez’s roots in Jalisco, Mexico.

The menu includes menudo, barbacoa, tacos, burritos, tortas, sopes, pozole, fresh seafood and handmade tortillas.

Gonzalez and his family have owned and operated Los Altos at 318 N. Milpas St. for as long as I can remember so I suspect they’ll have far more success with their new place than the previous tenants, which have included Marisco Titas, Wingman Rodeo, Gimeal Café and Natural Café. Josh has written about all of them in past BizHawk columns.

The Old Town Los Altos is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and starts serving an hour earlier on Saturday and Sunday.

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Good Reads

Check out these six stories before you go:

» Community Comes Together to Rescue, Re-Nest Baby Hawk After 90-Foot Fall From Tree — Staff writer Serena Guentz shares the good news of a baby red-tailed hawk successfully reunited with its family after falling 90 feet from its nest atop a eucalyptus tree.

» City of Guadalupe, Victim’s Family Settle Lawsuit for $4 Million After Police Shooting Death — North County editor Janene Scully has the details of the financial settlement in the tragic case of Juan Luis Olvera-Preciado, an innocent bystander who was killed in a Guadalupe police shooting.

» More of Highway 1 Opens Along Big Sur Coast — Managing editor Giana Magnoli finds herself on the highway beat this week. In addition to her aforementioned Highway 101 widening project report, she has an update on Highway 1 repairs along the winter storm-battered Big Sur coast.

» Guadalupe Dunes Park Will Stay Closed for Months — Giana also has the latest news on storm-related park closures throughout Santa Barbara County.

» Memorial Day Speakers Focus on Plight of Military’s Missing in Action — Janene reports on the Santa Maria Memorial Day ceremony heralding the return of the remains of two soldiers who had been missing in action from the Korean War.

» Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Ready to Ride for Four-Day Run — Janene saddles up for the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, which is where you can find me this weekend. #itsrodeotimeamerica

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? 3 People Killed, 5 Injured in Multivehicle Collision in Isla Vista.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

I think many of us can relate: A Tale of Paradise, Parking Lots and My Mother’s Berkeley Backyard.

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Here’s What I’m Up To

  • June 2 — I’m honored to be participating again in the annual sixth-grade exit interviews at Mountain View School in Goleta. This is one of my favorite things I get to do as Noozhawk’s publisher, and the school’s Cougar cubs are always inspiring.
  • June 2 — Speaking to the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara. HT to my friend, Steve Baker, for the invitation.

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Best of Bill’s Instagram

Santa Cruz Island and my grandson, Nico, are the clear favorites in my Instagram feed this past week.

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Watch It

Class is in session. Turn up your sound. HT to Best of Bill reader Bella Hayes.

YouTube video
(RM Videos 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.