Glen Annie Golf Club
Glen Annie Golf Club in Goleta. Now imagine its greens and fairways replaced with housing. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

This was supposed to be the first Best of Bill column to appear on Noozhawk’s new web platform, but our transition to the Newspack universe has been delayed yet again due to circumstances beyond our control.

So … Happy Thanksgiving!

I guess in some kind of a pre-Thanksgiving diet, Noozhawk had an audience of just 84,865 readers this past week, according to our Google Analytics. What follows is my recap of the Top 5 stories you were reading.

You should know by now that this is my opinion column, not a news story. And I’m warning you that you’ll definitely come across some in 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 …

1. Santa Barbara County Planners Propose Major Rezoning to Build Thousands of Housing Units

It’s no secret that Santa Barbara County, like California, has a severe housing shortage. The chances that it will ever be resolved are less than zero, and one reason is the lack of seriousness about how to even begin.

Under state law, every eight years the county is required to update the Housing Element of its Comprehensive Plan governing the county’s physical development. It’s that time, and our Josh Molina reported on the progress of the county’s draft housing proposal to be released early next year.

The task is not trivial. According to our betters in Sacramento, the county must come up with another round of sites for more than 5,600 new housing units, some 4,100 of them on the South Coast and another 1,500 in the North County.

Keep in mind that only about 17 people in the state of 40 million expect that much housing to be built; it’s more of a charade to keep politicians looking like they’re doing something and bureaucrats looking like they’re busy.

If any housing were to be attempted, more land would be needed so the county either has to find some, however unlikely that is, or rezone what it’s got.

According to Selena Evilsizor Whitney, a senior long-range planner in the county Planning & Development Department, all available land in the unincorporated county was inventoried to identify where new housing could be accommodated.

“We found that there is not enough properly zoned land currently available to meet the state’s housing requirements,” she said. “The department created the proposed rezone map to show a range of sites that could be rezoned to allow for new housing.”

You can — and you should — check out the map for yourself, but I seriously doubt that the community would abide a lot of the low-hanging fruit it proposes to pick, namely the numerous agricultural and recreational properties that make an appearance.

As Josh noted, those sites include 95-acre Glen Annie Golf Club, at 405 Glen Annie Road in Goleta, which the county says could be rezoned to build 1,536 new housing units; the 28-acre San Marcos Growers property at 125 S. San Marcos Road, on which 821 units could be built; St. Athanasius Orthodox Church’s campus, at 300 Sumida Gardens Lane, where 400 units could be built; and the 16-acre St. Vincent’s complex at 4200 Calle Real in Santa Barbara, which could handle the building of 175 more units.

Even the county’s own Juvenile Hall, at 4500 Hollister Ave., could be rezoned so 75 new housing units could be built. That’s one way to solve the housing imbalance among jail staff.

I noticed that Montecito is not exempt. While there is no potential rezoning proposed for the community, possible “housing opportunity sites” include Upper Village commercial properties on each of the four corners of the East Valley and San Ysidro roads intersection and at all four of its churches: All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 83 Eucalyptus Lane; El Montecito Presbyterian Church, 1455 East Valley Road; Montecito Covenant Church, 671 Cold Spring Road; and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 1300 East Valley Road.

The Lord be with you on that.

But speaking of churches, perhaps Psalm 43:3 is more prophetic than we realized: “Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.”

It is true that most church real estate is underutilized — although the “sanctuary” churches provide is not limited to the inner sanctum where the altar and pews are — but the same can be said of school campuses. I’ve long wondered why senior housing, for example, could not be integrated into school property to blend generations and create more of a 24-hour community.

That simplistic observation has far more complexity than I care to explore, but my larger point is that, rather than just proposing to pave paradise, we ought to be acknowledging that more creativity and innovation are needed to make the most out of what we have, and what we have left.

2. Pedestrian Dies After Being Hit by Vehicle on Highway 101 in Goleta

Highway 101 collision

An early morning collision on Highway 101 in Goleta left a local man dead Nov. 11. (Ryan Cullom / Noozhawk photo)

A Goleta man died tragically in the early morning hours of Nov. 11 when he was struck by a car and killed while walking on northbound Highway 101 about a quarter-mile east of North Fairview Avenue.

Santa Barbara County fire Capt. Scott Safechuck told our Giana Magnoli that the man was declared dead at the scene of the 1:48 a.m. wreck. No one else was injured.

Michael Saffold

Michael Saffold had a passion for computers, electronics and technology. (Saffold family photo)

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the circumstances of the collision, but sheriff’s Coroner’s Bureau spokeswoman Raquel Zick on Nov. 17 confirmed the dead man’s identity as 29-year-old Michael Saffold.

In his obituary on Noozhawk, Saffold was described as having “an insatiable desire to learn about all things, especially if they were computer-related.”

He grew up in Goleta, attended Dos Pueblos High School, got his GED from Santa Barbara City College, and later earned his SBCC associate of science degree in computer network engineering and electronics.

His obituary said he had an aptitude and passion for computers, web design and technology, and was the go-to technology fix-it guy for family and friends. Earlier this year, he was hired by Jordano’s, where he worked as a human resources IT systems administrator.

Saffold is survived by his parents, Becky and Richard Saffold of Goleta, and brothers Steven and Tim.

A celebration of his life and barbecue dinner is scheduled for 12:30 to 3 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Goleta Boys & Girls Club, at 5701 Hollister Ave. in Old Town.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the SBCC Foundation for an annual Michael Saffold Memorial Scholarship for a student majoring in computer network engineering and electronics.

A few hours after Saffold was killed, the CHP reported a two-vehicle, wrong-way collision on Highway 154 at Roblar Avenue near Dunn School in the Santa Ynez Valley.

There were no injuries in the 5 a.m. crash, but the CHP said the alleged wrong-way driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. His identity has not been released.

3. Aloha Fun Center Out at Former Macy’s Building, But Sonos Reportedly a Potential Tenant

Macy’s building

Will downtown Santa Barbara’s old Macy’s building soon be getting a Sonos sound system? (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Five years after its last legitimate tenant vacated the premises, the old Macy’s building in Santa Barbara’s downtown Paseo Nuevo is still looking for the right fit for the future. In a Noozhawk exclusive, our Josh Molina reported that it sounds like Sonos might be the one.

Josh was unable to confirm on the record a pretty solid tip that Sonos, the homegrown wireless home sound system maker, was looking to take over the 43,000-square-foot third floor and more at the hulking former department store at the corner of State and West Ortega streets.

The renamed “Ortega Building” is being marketed by Hayes Commercial Group, whose representative said the company could not comment “regarding any lease negotiations.”

Officials at Sonos — which is headquartered in Santa Barbara and has hundreds of local employees spread across multiple downtown and downtown-adjacent sites — did not respond to Josh’s requests for comment.

Jason Harris, the City of Santa Barbara’s economic development manager, told him he had heard the Sonos connection, too.

“When you think of large, downtown employers, Sonos is that,” he said. “They are a big target, in a favorable sense. As far as I understand, it is just conceptual.”

Josh also reported that San José-based Aloha Fun Center will not be opening a roller rink and laser tag facility it had proposed for the Macy’s building.

Harris said the company mistakenly thought it could open its recreation operation “as-is” under the lease agreement it had with the mall’s former owners.

In fact, he added, the change from department store usage required additional compliance with California’s building code. The company chose to let its lease lapse instead.

Josh reported previously in another exclusive that Pacific Capital Retail LLC, the mall’s former owner, had handed back its own leases to its lenders to stave off foreclosure.

4. Surfer Dies Despite Rescue Efforts at Guadalupe Beach

Guadalupe Beach

Fellow surfers and emergency personnel were unable to revive a 72-year-old man who died while catching waves at Guadalupe Beach. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

A 72-year-old surfer died after suffering possible cardiac arrest off Guadalupe Beach the morning of Nov. 11.

Santa Barbara County fire Capt. Scott Safechuck told our Janene Scully that fellow surfers pulled the unconscious man to the beach west of Guadalupe around 9:20 a.m.

He credited “amazing efforts” by surfers, including an off-duty nurse and a bystander who performed CPR, before county and Guadalupe firefighters and American Medical Response EMTs arrived with the heavy artillery for advanced life support.

“Unfortunately, after all resuscitation efforts,” Safechuck said, the man was pronounced dead.

On Nov. 17, the Coroner’s Bureau identified the victim as Joseph Nunes of Santa Maria.

Sheriff’s deputies and State Parks rangers also were dispatched as part of the emergency response.

5. 332-Unit Heritage Ridge Apartment Development in Goleta Moves Forward

Heritage Ridge property

It may not look like much now, but a 332-unit apartment development has been approved for this 17-acre parcel along South Los Carneros Road in Goleta. (Serena Guentz / Noozhawk photo)

The Goleta Planning Commission gave its blessing to a 332-unit apartment project proposed for 17 acres of vacant land adjacent to South Los Carneros Road.

As our Serena Guentz reported, the Heritage Ridge Residential Apartments — the long-stalled third phase of the Willow Springs I and II development — initially was opposed by a handful of environmental organizations but they all ended up supporting the project.

A joint venture of The Towbes Group, Red Tail Multifamily Land Development LLC and the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara, the development contains 228 market-rate apartments along with 63 units for low-income families and another 41 for low-income seniors.

The property, south of the Union Pacific railroad tracks between South Los Carneros Road and Aero Camino, also will include a two-acre public park.

With the Planning Commission approval, the project now goes to the City Council for review.

•        •        •

Good Reads

Check out these six stories before you go:

» Body Recovered Near Santa Cruz Island May Be Diver Missing Since 2020 — Managing editor Giana Magnoli tracks an improbable discovery in an underwater cave system near Santa Cruz Island.

» Plan for Mini Hotel in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone Sparks Parking Debate — Staff writer Josh Molina checks into a proposed two-room hotel in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone and finds — what else? — a parking problem.

» Driver Charged With Murder After 2 Children Killed in Santa Maria Crash — North County editor Janene Scully has the latest development in the heartbreaking — and infuriating — Nov. 6 alleged DUI crash that killed 10-year-old Alejandro and 2-year-old Yoselyn Gonzalez in Santa Maria.

» DA Rules Shooting of Suspect by 2 Deputies in Vandenberg Village Was ‘Legally Justified’ — Executive editor Tom Bolton follows up on the case of the two Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies who shot an unarmed hit-and-run crash suspect at a Vandenberg Village park back in February.

» Bishop Diego Ready for a Pound-for-Pound Battle in CIF Semifinal Against Upland Bishop Diego High School is a win away from the CIF championship game, but sports editor Barry Punzal reports that, just as they’ve done all year, the Cardinals are only looking at the next one, which is the night of Nov. 18 against Upland.

» Local Volleyball Legend Jon Lee Inducted Into California Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame — Congratulations to my friend and former Noozhawk colleague, Jon Lee, who can now add the California Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame to his long list of accolades and accomplishments. Barry has the details.

•        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? 2 People Injured, One Critically, in Head-On Crash in Santa Barbara.

•        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

You mean to tell me that, when you spend money like there’s no tomorrow, there’s actually a tomorrow? Brace for Budget Whiplash as California Faces $25 Billion Deficit.

•        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

San Marcos High School’s #aapleacademy, @joelphillipspaintings, a pleasant trip to @peasantsfeast in Solvang, and shrimp and octopus #tacos are among the highlights in my Instagram feed this past week.

•        •        •

Watch It

When you have a nose for news. HT to Aoife O’Brien.

YouTube video

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