In a season of remarkable team records and personal milestones, the Los Angeles Dodgers compiled an astonishing 111 wins against just 51 losses, leaving the second-place San Diego Padres a distant 22 games behind. And the Padres are also playoff-bound.

But speaking for Dodger Nation, the franchise record for season victories means nothing without 11 more wins. We expect that, and we deserve it.

Aside from that — and a casual revelation about nuclear Armageddon — an audience of 89,001 readers clicked with Noozhawk this past week, according to our Google Analytics. What follows is my recap of the Top 5 stories you were reading over that period.

I must remind you that this is my opinion column, not a news story. And I must warn you that you’re going to run into some.

1. Woman Killed by Vehicle in Montecito in Apparent Homicide

Montecito has been abuzz with questions, rumors and concerns since a woman was run down — allegedly on purpose — on East Mountain Drive before dawn on Sept. 29.

Authorities say the victim died of her injuries that night. Information on a suspect has not been released, but friends of the woman have hinted at domestic violence.

Blanca Aguilera and family

Blanca Aguilera and her three sons, Juan Carlos, Michael and Manuel. (GoFundMe photo)

As our Giana Magnoli reported, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s spokeswoman Raquel Zick said deputies were dispatched at 5:35 a.m. to the 800 block of East Mountain Drive, a secluded, winding and precipitous stretch of roadway just west and above the one-lane bridge near the Cold Spring Trailhead.

She said neighbors heard a woman screaming and called 9-1-1.

“When deputies arrived, they found a woman who was seriously injured, lying in the roadway,” Zick said. “The vehicle that struck the woman had fled the area prior to deputies’ arrival.”

The woman was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she died around 7:45 p.m.

On Oct. 4, our Tom Bolton broke the story that the victim had been identifed by the sheriff’s Coroner’s Bureau as 32-year-old Blanca Aguilera of Oxnard. Aguilera also went by the last name of Espinoza, authorities said.

Friends of Aguilera established a GoFundMe account to assist the single mother’s three sons — 16-year-old Juan Carlos, 12-year-old Michael and 8-year-old Manuel — and to help the family pay for her pending funeral.

“Sadly and tragically, she was kidnapped by her ex while she was leaving work late at night on 9/28/2022,” Blanca Velasquez and Rosario Arteagae posted on the site. “She was found by police on 9/29/2022, severely injured, and unfortunately passed away at the hospital due to her injuries.”

As of Oct. 7, the account had raised nearly $11,000. Click here to make an online donation.

Zick said detectives believe Aguilera was hit intentionally and the case is being investigated as a homicide. The victim and suspect apparently knew each other, she added, declining to describe the relationship.

The Sheriff’s Department is not disclosing the identity of the suspect or a vehicle description, Zick said.

Which reminds me: It’s been 2½ months since the Sheriff’s Department had any update at all in the last apparent murder in Montecito — the year’s first.

In that case, 96-year-old Evelyn Alberts was found dead in her Park Lane home on May 27, also under “suspicious circumstances.”

2. Leslie Ridley-Tree, Venerated Santa Barbara Philanthropist, Dies After Illness

Leslie Ridley-Tree

In Santa Barbara’s rich history of philanthropy, few made more of an impact than Leslie Ridley-Tree. (Noozhawk file photo)

The news that Leslie Ridley-Tree had died — early on Oct. 3 after battling an undisclosed illness for several months — reverberated through Santa Barbara County, sparking a vast reflection on the impacts she had on the community as well as what the void from her passing means for the future.

Ridley-Tree, who was in her 90s, was the personification of philanthropy, an ever-energetic, shrewd and present patron of a phenomenally broad spectrum of causes.

Thanks to the legacy of her generosity, the community she loved will continue to benefit from her giving for generations to come.

Over the years, Ridley-Tree and her late husband, Paul, made significant gifts to All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, Cottage Health, the Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, the Dream Foundation, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, the Music Academy of the West, Sansum Clinic, Santa Barbara City College, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Santa Barbara Zoo, UC Santa Barbara and Westmont College. And that’s just a partial list.

Dr. Kurt Ransohoff, CEO and chief medical officer at Sansum Clinic, told our Tom Bolton that Ridley-Tree made a huge difference in local health care, the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center being one of the most recent examples.

“Nearly every patient in our community has been touched in some way by her generosity,” he said.

Ed Birch, president and CEO of the Mosher Foundation, said Ridley-Tree was called to give out of her deep faith and grace. She had no cause she wanted advanced, he noted, nor did she have a personal business that would benefit from her giving.

“As a person of faith, she did it because it helped others,” he said. “It was the right thing to do.”

Despite her wealth, Ridley-Tree was charmingly down to earth and self-effacing.

We used to live not far from each other in Montecito, and our houses shared the same street number. One day, my wife answered the door to find a very confused-looking Rolls-Royce mechanic who said he was there to service our car.

Realizing his mistake, my amused wife gave him directions to the Ridley-Trees’ house, at which point he looked around and sniffed, “I didn’t think I’d find a Rolls-Royce here.”

Years later, I shared that story with Ridley-Tree while we were talking after church and she roared with laughter. And then apologized.

There won’t be another Leslie Ridley-Tree, I’m afraid.

A funeral service is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at All Saints Church, 83 Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito. Seating is extremely limited but the memorial will be livestreamed, as well.

3. Woman Killed, Passenger Seriously Injured in Highway 246 Vehicle Crash

Highway 246 crash

A San Juan Bautista woman suffered fatal injuries in this collision on Highway 246 in Buellton. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

An ill-fated U-turn on Highway 246 in Buellton turned into a tragic collision Oct. 5, killing a San Benito County woman and badly injuring her passenger.

California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Griffith told our Tom Bolton that the driver of a Honda Accord — identified as 71-year-old Stephen Waldman of Buellton — was driving west about 1 p.m. when he pulled onto the shoulder to make a U-turn just west of Skytt Mesa Drive.

Griffith said Waldman made an “unsafe turn” in front of a Honda CRV that was traveling behind him. The subsequent collision sent the SUV veering off the roadway where it slammed into an oak tree.

Suffering from major injuries, the SUV driver — identified as 73-year-old Linda McIntyre of San Juan Bautista — was rushed by an American Medical Response ambulance to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, where she was pronounced dead.

McIntyre’s passenger, 73-year-old Charlotte Ann Buck of Duarte, suffered moderate injuries and was taken by an AMR ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Waldman was not injured.

The circumstances of the wreck are under CHP investigation.

4. UC Santa Barbara Pulls Back Curtain on Giant Munger Residence Hall Mock-Up

UC Santa Barbara dorm mockup

UC Santa Barbara is providing a window into its proposed Munger Hall — which is ironic since the nine-story dormitory would provide few actual windows in its residents’ rooms. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

The gargantuan, mostly windowless dormitory UC Santa Barbara wants to build has gone from mocked to mock-up, with university officials now providing tours of a replica of aspects of life on the inside.

Our Grace Kitayama and Tom Bolton recently visited the faux facility — erected six years ago inside a warehouse-style building on Los Carneros Road — for a demonstration of what some 3,500 residents would experience if UCSB proceeds with the controversial nine-story edifice.

The project is the brainchild of part-time Montecito resident Charlie Munger, a 98-year-old billionaire business bigwig dabbling in dormitory design.

Munger also had pledged $200 million toward the $1.4 billion price tag for the building, which is to be called — coincidentally — Munger Hall.

The intention is to help UCSB ease its chronic shortage of affordable student housing, a legitimate and laudable objective. But the design is unconventional, to say the least.

Many of the students’ rooms would have no exterior exposure so the plan calls for artificial “windows” with lighting that resembles sunlight to create an impression that they can see outside. Not that anyone would ever want to look at the nearby ocean or mountains for themselves.

The original proposal was for 11 stories housing 4,500 students, or roughly 77% of one class of undergraduates at the 26,000-student university.

The latest version downsizes two floors and 1,000 students. For scale, the dorm would still be taller than Santa Catalina Residence Hall, the dual towers on the edge of Isla Vista formerly known as Francisco Torres, but at least the iconic Storke Tower would remain the tallest structure on campus.

As Grace reported, Munger Hall’s residential floors would contain eight units, each with a kitchen, laundry room, game room and study room. Within each of the units would be eight suites containing eight single rooms, two bathrooms and a kitchenette.

Grace has a comprehensive account of many of the other features so I’ll let her run with that story. She also links to a series of videos of the building mock-up.

Retired UCSB executive vice chancellor Gene Lucas told her that the building’s environmental impact report is nearly complete and that, if all goes according to plan, the project could have approval from the UC Board of Regents and the California Coastal Commission as early as next summer.

Theoretically, construction could be complete in 2026.

5. BizHawk: LoDo Studios Steps Into the Spotlight in Santa Barbara

Jacob Tell

Jacob Tell makes the case for his space at Lodo Studios in Santa Barbara. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Entrepreneur Jacob Tell, co-founder and CEO of the Oniracom marketing agency, recently launched LoDo Studios to provide full-scale photo and video production, recording studio services, and cost-effective event space at its headquarters at 216 E. Gutierrez St. in Santa Barbara.

Tell told our Josh Molina that LoDo Studios has an urban outdoor area of about 5,000 square feet, big enough for parties and music events of almost every size. Since opening earlier this year, the company has hosted a number of nonprofit and for-profit events at the space.

“Real estate comes at a premium in Santa Barbara, and small- and medium-sized businesses don’t often have budgets that allow them a high-cost production or event space,” he said.

“Not only are we reasonably priced, but we have gear and talented team members ready to collaborate with Santa Barbara’s community.”

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Good Reads

Here are six more stories I think you’ll appreciate:

» Santa Barbara Woman’s 1958 Kidnapping, Murder Featured in New Book — Staff writer Josh Molina helps Deborah Holt Larkin with a new chapter in the tragic tale of murdered Santa Barbara nurse Olga Duncan, the lunatic mother-in-law who hired her killers, and the author’s reporter father who covered the trial. I’ve talked to a couple of old-timers who remember the case well.

» State Criticizes City of Goleta’s Draft Housing Element Document as Too ‘Generic’ — Josh digs into Goleta’s required draft housing element update, which received a scathing rebuke from the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

» Santa Barbara County Finding Success with Co-Response Mental Health Teams — Contributing writer Jade Martinez-Pogue continues her Mental Health Care in Crisis series with a feature on the new teams pairing mental health clinicians with law enforcement deputies to respond to mental health crisis-related 9-1-1 calls.

» Cat Revived After Fire Damages Apartment in Santa Barbara — Executive editor Tom Bolton is on the prowl with a cat that used up one of its nine lives in an Oct. 6 apartment fire in Santa Barbara.

» Friday Night Lights: San Marcos, Dos Pueblos Kick Off Rivalry Season with Battle of Goleta Valley — Sports editor Barry Punzal previews the Oct. 7 Battle of the Goleta Valley when Dos Pueblos and San Marcos high schools grapple for gridiron glory.

» Champions! Santa Barbara Clinches Channel League Title with 3-1 Win Over Ventura — Sports correspondent Dennis Moran serves up the Santa Barbara High girls volleyball team’s first league title since 2013.

•        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Lightning, Thunder Rattle Santa Barbara County’s South Coast, Mountains.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Now this is news I can snooze, I mean use: The Rise of Sleep Tourism.

•        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

Team Noozhawk ventured back out to sea with our Hawks Club cruise on the @condorexpresssb. It’s in my Instagram feed this past week.

•        •        •

Watch It

Drawing inspiration. HT to my friend and Best of Bill reader, Stacey Wright.

YouTube video

(Mr Doodle video)

•        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Bill Macfadyen

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.