Author spotlight: Nick Schou

Nicholas Schou is an award-winning investigative journalist and author of several books, including Orange Sunshine and Kill the Messenger. If you have tips or stories about Montecito, please email him at newseditor@montecitojournal.net

Congressmen Carbajal Secures FEMA Funding for Randall Road Debris Basin
By Nick Schou   |   October 28, 2020

Congressman Salud Carbajal’s office announced today that it had secured a $13.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on behalf of the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District that will allow the county to purchase several properties along Randall Road in Montecito and begin construction on a new debris basin near San […]

Montecito Trails Foundation Goes Ass First into Second Phase of San Ysidro Trail’s Restoration
By Nick Schou   |   October 22, 2020

After an almost monthlong closure aimed at preventing new fires in what is already one of the busiest fire seasons in California history, the National Forest Service reopened the Los Padres National Forest on October 9. At just after 9 am that morning, 13 mules and a horse led by a trio of wranglers hired […]

Following a “Qualified” Endorsement by Montecito Journal, Controversy Erupts Over Cold Spring School District’s Measure L
By Nick Schou   |   October 22, 2020

There’s a long history in Montecito of well-intentioned yet pricey local school bond measures that have failed to win at the ballot box. In 2012, Montecito Union School unsuccessfully sought to raise $27 million for various campus improvements, an effort that collapsed under the weight of criticism by property tax paying opponents who viewed it […]

A Life Well Managed
By Nick Schou   |   October 21, 2020

If it wasn’t for the fact that his boss told him to steer a tea tray to President Ronald Reagan three decades ago, Tobias Pohlmeyer might never have come to America. It was a momentous occasion, as meeting Reagan inspired Pohlmeyer to cross the Atlantic and rise through the ranks of the global hospitality industry […]

Three Years Later, Paul Madsen Rebuilds From the Ground Up
By Nick Schou   |   October 13, 2020

When we first met Paul Madsen, he was the subject of much speculation within a lower Montecito message board on Nextdoor.com. Over the summer, several community members had posted on the app that they’d observed (and had been observed by) a gentleman seated in a white SUV parked on Posilipo Lane, just past the Rosewood […]

Natalia Alarcon and Wade Nomura Backed By Carpinteria’s Anti-Cannabis Contingent
By Nick Schou   |   October 13, 2020

This November, three candidates are running for Carpinteria’s five-member city council: Mayor Wade Nomura, a former professional skateboarder; Mark McIntire, a former Santa Barbara City College philosophy professor; and Natalia Alarcon, a nonprofit program manager and clinical psychologist. Of the trio, Nomura, an incumbent, is the only candidate with any experience in city politics. McIntire, […]

MJ’s Guide to Montecito’s Local Election Day Candidates
By Nick Schou   |   September 24, 2020

Hard to believe there are only 40-plus days until the November election – which will (God-willing) be decided before 2020 happily rides off into the sunset. Judges like to say that ignorance of the law is not a defense. We believe the same goes for elections. The following is meant to provide you with relevant […]

Montecito’s Bucket Brigade Launches Countywide Growing Project
By Nick Schou   |   September 17, 2020

Fresh on the heels of donating and distributing 33,000 cloth masks sewed by 300 volunteers, the Bucket Brigade (as well as 16 other organizations including the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network and the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County) is taking its crowd-sourcing expertise in a new direction: launching a major campaign of community and […]

Friendship Center Hosts Drive-By Luau for Local Senior Citizens
By Nick Schou   |   September 3, 2020

Ever since March, Montecito’s Friendship Center has been delivering monthly care packages to its senior citizen clients who have been mostly isolated at their homes from Goleta to Summerland during the pandemic. Two months ago, the center also hosted a drive-in event where clients could wave to staff from the comfort and safety of their […]

Fire Chief Kevin Taylor on This Year’s Fire Season
By Nick Schou   |   September 3, 2020

Back in January, a standing-room-only crowd filled Montecito Union School’s auditorium for an update on what to expect this year in terms of both fire and rain. The message was exactly what residents were hoping to hear. First, a lower than average chance of the kind of rain events that could lead to another debris […]

Paul Madsen’s Long-Delayed HomeRebuilding Project Almost Ready to Break Ground
By Nick Schou   |   September 3, 2020

For a man accustomed to building and racing some of the world’s fastest cars, Paul Madsen could be forgiven for thinking that it wouldn’t take two years to receive a permit to rebuild his house, which was destroyed in the January 2018 debris flows. But as the Montecito Journal highlighted last week, so far, it’s […]

Roundup Update
By Nick Schou   |   August 27, 2020

County Responds to Concerns Over Pesticide Spraying in Debris Basins On August 6, acting on a tip from a reader, the Montecito Journal‘s Kelly Mahan Herrick reported that Santa Barbara County Flood Control employees had been spraying Roundup brand weed killer in the San Ysidro Creek debris basin. Since that article appeared, concerned readers have […]

The Man on the Corner
By Nick Schou   |   August 27, 2020

To get on the 101 Freeway heading south at San Ysidro Road, you must first turn left on South Jameson Lane and then drive past the Rosewood Miramar Beach until you come to a stop sign at the corner of Posilipo Lane, just north of the train tracks. In front of you is an unforgivingly […]

Montecito’s Friendship Center and the Bucket Brigade Deliver Fiesta-Themed Totes to Santa Barbara Seniors
By Nick Schou   |   August 13, 2020

This week, both sides of State Street would typically be lined with crowds watching men and women wearing traditional Mexican costumes parading on horseback or dancing in formation from one end of town to the other. But thanks to COVID-19, the annual Old Spanish Days Fiesta has been called off for the first time since […]

Checking in with Santa Barbara County’s New Educator-in-Chief
By Nick Schou   |   August 13, 2020

On May 26, the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Hilda Maldonado as Superintendent in charge of the education of the county’s more than 14,000 elementary, junior and high school students. Maldonado’s prior job: Associate Superintendent of Leadership and Partnerships for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the […]

The Big Short
By Nick Schou   |   August 13, 2020

Anyone old enough to remember being at the beach or a nearby boardwalk in the 1970s and early ’80s will recall the sartorial zeitgeist: Tie-dyed or surfer tees (or no shirt at all) and Ocean Pacific-style board shorts. In those days, they were known simply as “swimsuits” anywhere outside California or the Hawaiian Islands or […]

Organic Soup Kitchen Unveils New Helpline
By Nick Schou   |   August 6, 2020

Since 2009, the Organic Soup Kitchen has been the only organization in Santa Barbara County to deliver nutrient-rich soup meals to low-income families and homeless individuals. What started as a homespun effort to provide healthy meals to the homeless in local parks, has gradually become a successful, self-sustaining enterprise with its own kitchen that works […]

‘No Impending Sale’: Ty Warner Puts End to Rumors About Montecito Properties
By Nick Schou   |   August 6, 2020

In an exclusive interview with the Montecito Journal, Ty Warner, Montecito resident, Beanie Baby creator, and billionaire owner of the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore, the Montecito Country Club, and the San Ysidro Ranch, said he had no plans to sell any of his local properties, all of […]

Laura Capps Launches Re-Election Bid for County Education Seat
By Nick Schou   |   July 30, 2020

In a video clip released July 27, former First District Supervisorial candidate Laura Capps officially announced her re-election campaign for the Santa Barbara Board of Education. In her case, “re-election” is somewhat of a misnomer, as Capps is the first to point out. “We got two new Board members in 2018, but the three of […]

On the Art of Camouflaging Rocks
By Nick Schou   |   July 30, 2020

After moving north to Montecito from Long Beach 10 years ago so that his family could be closer to the mountains and the sea at the same time, Tim Sulger began hiking the local canyons above his home near Westmont College. A decade into what has become a near daily routine, the daytime options trader […]

Cannabis Under Fire, Part Three
By Nick Schou   |   July 23, 2020

Ever since the Santa Barbara Grand Jury issued its damning report last month on the explosion of cannabis cultivation in Santa Barbara County, a widening ripple of reaction has circled around Carpinteria, Goleta, and Buellton, where residents hope the controversy will aid their efforts to curtail the industry. As the Montecito Journal reported last week, […]

Cannabis Under Fire: Part 2
By Nick Schou   |   July 16, 2020

Das Williams, Santa Barbara’s First District Supervisor, suddenly found himself under a harsh, almost Perry Mason-style cross examination during a July 13 interview with Steve Chiotakis, host of KCRW’S Greater L.A. radio talk show. “Your campaign contributions come from pot lobbyists trying to grow weed,” Chiotakis scoffed at one point. “And look, it’s legal, yeah, […]

SB Grand Jury Blasts Board of Supervisors for Marijuana Mess
By Nick Schou   |   July 9, 2020

On June 30, Santa Barbara’s Grand Jury released an historic, scathing report detailing alleged official malfeasance by the Board of Supervisors as it sought to regulate cannabis over the past three years, particularly in Carpinteria but also in North County wine country. By law, the report mentioned no names and took no stand on the […]

No Mas Agua!
By Nick Schou   |   July 2, 2020

Apologies for the misleading headline, but it’s worth celebrating that the Montecito Journal’s six-part series on our town’s complex water politics is finally complete! On June 25, Montecito’s Water Board made history by voting unanimously to approve a deal with Santa Barbara that will guarantee us a local and reliable source of water for the […]

An Homage of Fallen Trees
By Nick Schou   |   July 2, 2020

One of them is sits in front of the Montecito Public Library. Another can be found on the grounds of the Knowlwood Tennis Club. Two are located next to the Boy Scout building in Upper Manning Park. Several are scattered along different trails in Montecito’s Ennisbrook and Casa Dorinda open spaces, and all of them […]

Cottage Hospital Update
By Nick Schou   |   July 2, 2020

It’s been more than three months since the scary reality of the coronavirus threat began to sink in with public officials in California, and unfortunately, the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, recent reports suggest the virus is not only spreading thanks to lackluster social-distancing efforts by sun-worshipping millennials, but is possibly […]

AHA! Update
By Nick Schou   |   June 25, 2020

Ever since the COVID-19 era unceremoniously ended the 2020 academic year in March, local educators and non-profit groups have been redoubling their efforts to help young people deal with the added stress they’ve been experiencing. AHA!, whose mission is to reduce emotional and physical abuse on campus and has provided counseling to more than 20,000 […]

Which Way Water Security?
By Nick Schou   |   June 25, 2020

Anyone carefully watching the progress of MWD’s “Water Supply Agreement” (WSA) with Santa Barbara already knows that it is almost a foregone conclusion that the agency’s board of directors will have already approved this deal by the time you’re reading these words. Yet as historic as today’s vote is, or was, there are still several […]

Santa Barbara High School Fall Schedule Update
By Nick Schou   |   June 18, 2020

With the Fall 2020 school year rapidly approaching, Santa Barbara High School (SBHS) is finalizing its plan for how to bring as many of its roughly 2,200 students back to campus as safely as possible. The key word here is, you guessed it, “safely.” Right now, the school is awaiting official rulings from Governor Gavin […]

Montecito’s Missing Water
By Nick Schou   |   June 18, 2020

On June 15, Nick Turner, executive director of the Montecito Water District (MWD), gave a two-hour slideshow presentation to the public which outlined the agency’s proposed rate changes that will impact roughly 4,600 households. Thanks to a proposed 50-year Water Supply Agreement (WSA) with Santa Barbara, Montecito will receive a guaranteed supply of agua secured […]

A Modest Proposal
By Nick Schou   |   June 11, 2020

From 1 to 3 pm on the afternoon of June 15, the Montecito Water District (MWD) will hold an online hearing in which Nick Turner, the agency’s executive director, will explain several proposed water rate changes that will affect roughly 4,000 households in Montecito and Summerland, not to mention several major luxury hotels and private […]

There Will Be Water
By Nick Schou   |   June 4, 2020

On November 10, 2011, the Montecito Water District (MWD), which was created to provide residents with drinkable water, will celebrate its centennial anniversary. It’s an auspicious occasion, because Montecito doesn’t really have any water, at least none you can find under the soil. In fact, according to countless studies – okay, only 18 studies – […]

Montecito’s Water Supply Much Improved. Still Needs Love, Luck, and Lucre
By Nick Schou   |   May 28, 2020

An Historic Vote On June 25, the five members of Montecito Water District’s Board of Directors will hold a public hearing – almost certainly to take place via Zoom – to discuss a proposed change in water rates for its customer base of roughly 4,000 Montecito households. The hearing will allow affected ratepayers as well […]

The Montecito Village Grocery Family
By Nick Schou   |   May 21, 2020

Roxy Lawler had already been in the grocery business for nearly 15 years when she and her family took over Montecito Village Grocery in January 2017. But in the last three years alone, the store has experienced not one but two once-in-a-lifetime (or perhaps once-per-millennium) disasters: the devastating January 9, 2018 debris flows and this […]

Hard Work Pays Off for Local Scholars
By Nick Schou   |   May 21, 2020

In an otherwise dismal end to the academic year, there’s some late-breaking good news for nearly 2,000 local students heading on to college or graduate-school. On May 15, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara awarded college scholarships totaling more than $6 million, providing an average $3,357 per recipient. The foundation is the nation’s largest community-based […]

Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Lompoc Federal Prison Inmates
By Nick Schou   |   May 21, 2020

Although it houses just 1,162 people behind bars – not to mention a healthy supply of razor wire – Lompoc Federal Prison already has no less than 900 inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s not only well more than 70 percent of the prison’s population, it’s also roughly half the number of people […]

Will Montecito Go Full Speed Ahead with Desalinated Water?
By Nick Schou   |   May 21, 2020

This month, roughly 4,600 households in Montecito and Summerland received a special insert along with their monthly water bill. “WATER RATE UPDATE!” the flyer declared in urgent all caps, adding that the “Montecito Water District has Plans for Delivering a Secure Water Future.” Stating that its customers “want their drinking water to come from local, […]

‘A Time of Innovation’: Santa Barbara-area Schools Wade into the Uncharted Territory of ‘Remote Learning’
By Nick Schou   |   May 17, 2020

On Friday, March 13, yes Friday the 13th, all schools in California, public and private, closed their doors for the foreseeable future. Then Santa Barbara, like much of the rest of the state, had at most a single week to switch to an entirely new, online model of education, by now known to most as […]

Will Montecito Go Full Speed Ahead with Desalinated Water?
By Nick Schou   |   May 17, 2020

This month, roughly 4,600 households in Montecito and Summerland received a special insert along with their monthly water bill. “WATER RATE UPDATE!” the flyer declared in urgent all caps, adding that the “Montecito Water District has Plans for Delivering a Secure Water Future.” Stating that its customers “want their drinking water to come from local, […]

Montecito Sanitary District Teams with UCSB to Test Feces for COVID-19
By Nick Schou   |   May 7, 2020

Just how many Montecito residents have the dreaded coronavirus, aka COVID-19? Or to put it another way: Just how much COVID-19 is in Montecito’s collective supply of excreta? Thanks to an ongoing COVID-19 tracing project by Dr. Patricia Holden, a professor of environmental microbiology at UC Santa Barbara, and the Montecito Sanitary District (MSD), we […]