Milpas Street roundabout crash
According to Santa Barbara police, you’re seeing the end result of a hit-run-hit. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies for signing generational superstar Bryce Harper. You’re insane.

But I really must thank the bottom-feeding owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers for sending such a clear message that they’re not in to win a world championship, but merely to contend for one.

Frankrupt McCourt is no doubt proud that his going-through-the-motions business model is being followed so faithfully by his successors, even if his version was one of penurious necessity while Guggenheim Partners’ excuse is simple arrogance.

Not only are the Dodgers one of the richest sports franchises on the planet, they practically print money. For that, they can thank — but won’t — a lucrative TV contract that prevents most fans from watching them and an unrequited loyalty by those same fans who are treated like suckers and gouged each time they set foot on the Dodger Stadium property.

With all that going for them, the team stubbornly sticks to baseball bargain hunting while Dodger Nation is saddled with a losing streak that is now 31 years and counting.

And the Dodgers’ ownership is OK with that. As long as they’re looking out for No. 1, they’re fine with being a No. 2.

I’m too old, and obviously too bitter, to be fine with that, however. To quote the great Ricky Bobby from a different sport, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

Speaking of first and last, this last week was an interesting one for Noozhawk’s Top 5 most-read stories. Although No. 1, coincidentally, involved an alleged reckless racer who went all “Shake ’n Bake” at the Milpas Street roundabout, three of the five were more policy-related stories — which is somewhat unusual for a Best of Bill compilation that often is heavy on breaking news.

According to our Google Analytics, Noozhawk drew an audience of 126,949 readers over the last seven days. This is my take — meaning my opinion — on what you were reading.

1. 5 People Seriously Injured in Crash on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara

An Oxnard man was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence after a late-night crash that seriously injured five people at the Milpas Street roundabout on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside.

According to Santa Barbara police, the wreck occurred around 11:35 p.m. Feb. 24 when a Kia sedan speeding south on Milpas slammed into the concrete wall of the roundabout’s center island near the Highway 101 entrance ramp.

Police Sgt. Andy Hill told our Tom Bolton that the crash was preceded by a hit-and-run collision involving the Kia, and that the car was being pursued by the driver of the vehicle that had been hit.

Three people in the Kia suffered major injuries and two others had moderate injuries, Santa Barbara fire Battalion Chief Robert Mercado said. All five were transported by three American Medical Response ambulances to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Police spokesman Anthony Wagner said the Kia’s driver — identified as 23-year-old Joseph David Hernandez of Oxnard — was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI with injury, felony hit-and-run, possession of methamphetamine, driving with a suspended license and a probation violation from a previous DUI conviction.

After he was released from the hospital, Hernandez was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $100,000.

Hill said the four injured passengers were expected to survive, but their identities and medical conditions were not disclosed. Mercado said two of them had to be extricated from the mangled vehicle.

The crash investigation is ongoing.

2. Court Deals Blow to Santa Barbara’s Ban on Coastal Vacation Rentals

The City of Santa Barbara’s grand plan to ban vacation rentals in the coastal zone was reversed in a Feb. 20 ruling by a Ventura County judge.

The 2015 ban, which restricted short-term rentals to zoning districts that allow hotels, was approved by the City Council with the intention of preserving affordable housing in the city. According to the council’s reasoning at the time, property owners would pick locals over vacationing out-of-towners for the rentals, also known as STRs.

Theo Kracke, a vacation rental property owner, filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that the ban was illegal and a violation of the California Coastal Act, which requires that the general public must have affordable accommodations within and access to the coastal zone.

In his ruling, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Mark Borrell determined that Santa Barbara had failed to apply for a coastal development permit to ensure its actions conformed to the state Coastal Act and its own Local Coastal Plan.

He ordered that coastal zone STRs be approved on the same basis as the city had allowed them to operate prior to 2015.

Santa Barbara City Attorney Ariel Calonne says the city will appeal.

“Of course we are disappointed,” he said, “but this is an instance where new law is being made, and we’ve known from Day One that the case would likely end up in the appellate courts.”

Kracke, who is represented by Travis Logue and Jason Wansor, partners at Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell LLP, is not surprised.

“Given the city’s aggressive tactics over the last few years, I am sure this fight will continue,” he said.

3. City of Santa Barbara Grappling with Rising Pension, Homeless Costs

Santa Barbara waterfront

It’s always sunny in Santa Barbara. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Barbara City Council held a budget workshop in advance of its upcoming budget deliberations for the 2020-2021 cycle. Our Josh Molina has the complete story, but here’s the salient detail:

Santa Barbara’s current unfunded pension liability is $330.7 million.


4. Despite Abundant Winter Rains, Santa Barbara Remains in ‘Drought Emergency’

Santa Barbara Water Commission

Water bodies talkin’ drought and supply outlook. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara County’s exceptionally wet winter has already propelled rainfall totals above normal for the year, but don’t look for local officials to declare victory over the stubborn five-year drought.

Kelley Dyer, the City of Santa Barbara’s water supply manager, told the city’s Water Commission last week that Santa Barbara “remains in a drought emergency.” She noted that some areas are still lagging and said the water-supply outlook is continuously reassessed.

As of Feb. 22, the county was at 140 percent of average rainfall to date for the rain season that began Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 31. The county already has received 95 percent of its average total rainfall for 2019, and another wet storm is on the way this weekend.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, neither the county nor the Central Coast has any level of drought or dryness at the moment. But this is California. Is another drought ever that far away?

5. Kahuna Grill Closes; Mesa Burger Taking Over Goleta Location

Kahuna Grill

Under new ownership. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

After 17 years, Kahuna Grill in Goleta’s Camino Real Marketplace has served its last Hawaiian Plate.

Fans of the popular land-locked surf-themed turf won’t be left totally high and dry on burger beach, though. Mesa Burger bought the assets and will be opening in the same spot, at 7010 Marketplace Drive, later this year.

“It’s been a pleasure serving this community, and we want to thank everyone for their kindness and support over the years,” Kahuna Grill owner Jean Young said in a statement.

Young says she’ll be focusing on running her seven Natural Café locations, one of which is right around the corner at 6990 Marketplace Drive. Three more — in Ventura, Oxnard and Camarillo — are in the works.

Mesa Burger, which opened a couple of years ago at 315 Meigs Road in Santa Barbara, has already planted its flag on the side of the Camino Real Marketplace building. Regional manager Pixie Green says the shopping center is an ideal next step because the restaurant’s hand-crafted burgers, farm-fresh salads and locally brewed beers will “fit in well to the demographic.”

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Elderly Pedestrian Dies of Injuries Suffered in Downtown Santa Barbara Collision.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

An Army of One: U.S. Army Recruiter Stops Shoplifters While Pushing Stroller.

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Best of Bill’s Instagram

Peggy Noonan is the star of my Instagram feed from this past week, and I’m still star-struck from getting to meet her. #westmontpresidentsbreakfast

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Watch It

When the wave is tall enough to cast a shadow … Well, it’s a good thing they’re wearing wetsuits.

YouTube video

(JacuzziSurfer video)

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

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