On the Beat

Levy Bankrupt: Bill Levy’s timeshare commercial
project at the foot of State Street was something few wanted except
for Levy, his investors, and the City Council (after Levy, his
friends, and his family made big donations to some councilmembers).
The present council would never approve it. Yet now, even after
Levy put his company into bankruptcy, new investors will be
emerging to build the unwanted and unneeded timeshares, a
monstrosity at the city’s front door. One informed city-watcher
predicts that whoever the new outfit is will likely return to City
Hall to tweak the design. But surely not enough to require City
Council review, of course. Someone’s still going to make a lot of
money out of this fiasco. The question is: Who are the losers and
by how much?

Miramar Up for Sale: No way was Ty Warner
shopping the Miramar Hotel around prior to his decision last week
to sell it due to a recent “attack letter” from the Montecito
Association, said Greg Rice, Warner’s executive vice president.
Warner has spent $2.9 million redesigning the revamped Miramar and
$1.9 million or a new easement on railroad property, Rice said.
“Why would we have been spending that?” he asked, if Warner was
trying to sell the property. Rice was countering a claim by Robert
Collector, Montecito Association president, that Rice had been
seeking buyers since August. When the association, one of
Montecito’s key land-use review groups, sends “attack letters,” how
do you figure you’ll get a fair shake when your project comes
before it? Rice asked. Far from being supportive, the group has
actively opposed “every single project we have run by them,” Rice
said. Meanwhile, Rice said, since Warner’s announcement last week,
he’s been getting inquiries from possible buyers.

Stonehouse Reopening: The San Ysidro Ranch’s
Stonehouse Restaurant, closed for more than two years due to a fire
and major renovations at Ty Warner’s upscale resort in the
Montecito hills, will reopen Monday. The Stonehouse, with John
Trotta as chef, will be open for dinner only until further notice
(6-10 p.m.), according to Tamara Fangman, sales and marketing
director. The Plow & Angel lounge in the lower level is due to
reopen in “early 2007,” she told me.

Pep Boys Closing? Pep Boys has sold the
property housing its auto parts store at 424 State Street, and
there are reports it will be closing at some point. An employee I
talked to confirmed the sale report. A downtown business source
said potential tenants are sizing up the place, but employees told
me they had no idea when it might close. A move to Goleta is one
possibility being rumored, one employee said.

Another McCaw? According to J’Amy Brown’s
column in The Independent, “We hear rumors that there will soon be
another McCaw nesting in Santa Barbara. It seems Craig McCaw,
ex-husband of News-Press publisher Wendy McCaw, has been looking at
some very expensive homes in Montecito.” My information is that
Craig has been shopping for 10,000-square-feet of office space.
Craig’s wife, Susan Rasinski McCaw, carries some impressive
credentials. She’s ambassador to Austria for President Bush, for
whom Craig reportedly raised a lot of money in the Pacific
Northwest.

Free Turkeys: According to my sources, the
people who gave away hundreds of free turkeys from the front gate
of their beautifully decorated East Valley Road home last week were
Jim and Rosemary Towle. A nice thing for a lot of people, but,
asked one Montecitan: Why free turkeys to those driving by in
well-to-do Montecito and not given to the FoodBank or other
nonprofits feeding the needy?

News-Press Fence: Don’t be surprised if the
News-Press management does a lot of legal fencing with the city,
which wants that no-permit chain link fence removed. Wendy is not
one to back down. If the real reason for the blight is to shield
signs on employee cars reading “McCaw Obey the Law,” wouldn’t it be
easier from a PR standpoint to reach some sort of agreement with
the newsroom? Trivia question: What small business flourished in
the NP parking lot across Anacapa Street during the regime of owner
T.M. Storke?

Raffle Baffle: The Contemporary Arts Forum
claims it wants to clear up confusion between its successful
million-dollar home raffles and another group’s recent
less-successful raffle. CAF boardmember Joan Crawford said the CAF
“watched in disbelief when another Santa Barbara Home Raffle was
held by a group that decided to fly under our same acronym, CAF.
The Contemporary Arts Forum staff received many calls by confused
residents.” While the arts forum raffles in the past three years
all sold out awarding three winners $1 million each, according to
Crawford — this year’s California Academy Foundation’s Dream Home
raffle awarded 260 prizes but the grand prize winner won $200,000
instead of a million-dollar home because not all tickets were
sold.

You can reach Barney at 965-5205 or via barney@independent.com. He also
writes a Tuesday online column at independent.com and Barney’s
Weekend Picks on Fridays.

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