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

After the Deluge
By Nick Schou   |   January 21, 2021

Three years after Montecito’s devastating debris flows, some memories just won’t fade away Although the mud is gone, and most of the rocks have been either carted away or stacked in piles nearby, the intersection of Hot Springs Road and Olive Mill Road still bears witness to the work that remains to be done before […]

One Fortunate Feline
By Nick Schou   |   January 21, 2021

December 29, 2020 started out as just another regular day for the cat-rescue volunteers at Santa Barbara’s Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP), a private nonprofit group that helps the county’s animal control agency find homes for abandoned cats. “We were operating on a very limited scale because of COVID,” said Becky Morrill, ASAP’s shelter operations […]

Watt’s Going On With Trevor Broudy’s Water Supply?
By Nick Schou   |   January 14, 2021

Trevor Broudy could be forgiven for thinking he might just be the unluckiest person in Montecito. The Middle Road homeowner’s troubles began early last year, when Bacall, his beloved golden retriever, began to rapidly and inexplicably lose weight. Aside from taking his pet to various veterinarians, Broudy stopped giving Bacall tap water to drink and […]

Montecito Trails Foundation Celebrates New Year With Trash Pickup on Local Trails
By Nick Schou   |   January 14, 2021

On December 31, the Montecito Trails Foundation (MTF) held its inaugural New Year’s Eve trash pickup event on local trails, with dozens of members fanning out along some 90 miles of trails in the front country above town as well as community trails within Montecito, Summerland, and Carpinteria. Because of COVID-19 concerns, the group encouraged […]

Somebody’s Watching You, But Who’s Watching Them? Welcome to the Weird World of the Stalkers of Celebrity Stalkers
By Nick Schou   |   January 7, 2021

Montecito’s Unique Stalker of Celebrity Stalkers Catch and Release The Montecito Journal’s investigation into the shadowy world of the stalkers who stalk celebrity stalkers began, in more ways than one, with a simple cup of coffee. On a weekday afternoon in mid-October, a Journal editor was about to leave a local coffee shop when he […]

101 Freeway Construction Holiday Update
By Nick Schou   |   December 31, 2020

Note to readers: This update covers the time period from Dec. 20, 2020 to Jan. 9, 2021. Crews will not work on Dec. 24, 25, 31, and Jan. 1 in observance of the holidays. Drive safe and enjoy the break! Closures: Northbound Highway 101 Sunday nights, 9:00 pm – 5:00 am, 1 lane: N Padaro […]

Meet the Head Honcho for 101 Freeway Widening Project
By Nick Schou   |   December 31, 2020

Assuming that Montecito makes it through the next few years without any major wildfires, floods, mudslides, earthquakes, or tsunamis (okay, so that last potential natural disaster seems about as likely as a meteor strike), then the biggest story that will affect everyone in town for the foreseeable future is the 101 Freeway widening project. With […]

Santa Barbara Salvation Army Toy Drive Helps Hundreds of Families Celebrate Christmas
By Nick Schou   |   December 31, 2020

The shortest day of the year turned out to be an unexpectedly generous one for needy Santa Barbara area drive families. From 9 am to 6 pm on Monday, December 21, the Santa Barbara Salvation Army held a food and toy drive at its headquarters on Hollister Avenue, providing gifts of food and toys to […]

The Little Fire Engine That Could
By Nick Schou   |   December 24, 2020

You might recognize Dana Newquist and his 1937 Ford Fire Engine from Montecito’s annual Fourth of July parade, which he cofounded in 1996. Newquist bought the engine about 20 years ago from a Hollywood producer who used the vehicle for only a day – the lovingly restored, bright-red truck still bears the previous owner’s initials […]

Over a Hundred Protest in Support of Outdoor Dining on Coast Village Road
By Nick Schou   |   December 24, 2020

More than one hundred Montecito and Santa Barbara residents gathered at noon on Saturday, December 12 in front of Tre Lune Ristorante to protest California Governor Gavin Newsom’s ban on outdoor dining in several Southern California counties including Santa Barbara. Although Newsom’s order aims to help local hospitals avoid an unmanageable spike in COVID-19 patients […]

Santa Barbara’s Bucket Brigade Unveils New Trail Project in Montecito
By Nick Schou   |   December 10, 2020

If you’ve ever trekked up the walking path on the west side of San Ysidro Road between the 101 Freeway and East Valley Road, or along the north side of North Jameson Lane between San Ysidro and Olive Mill Road, then you are already familiar with Montecito’s recently established community trail network. While sidewalks were […]

Heal the Ocean and MarBorg Industries Team Up to Remove Maritime Debris From Montecito Beaches
By Nick Schou   |   December 10, 2020

Thanks to a collaboration between Heal the Ocean and MarBorg Industries, as well as funding from the Ohana Foundation, which was created by Kim and Jack Johnson (yes, that Jack Johnson), all the debris from a boat that disintegrated in early November near the Santa Barbara Cemetery has been removed. Although the identity of the […]

Montecito Planning Commission Approves Plan to Keep Debris Nets Up For Next Three Years
By Nick Schou   |   December 3, 2020

In a unanimous vote last week, the Montecito Planning Commission extended the permits for several Swiss-built flexible steel debris nets that were installed above town after the tragic mudslides that occurred in the wake of the Thomas Fire nearly three years ago. Thanks to a multi-million-dollar fundraising effort by The Partnership for Resilient Communities (TPRC), […]

Montecito Water District’s Newest Hire Aims to Strengthen Our Underground Water Supply
By Nick Schou   |   December 3, 2020

Six years ago, former California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law landmark water management legislation consisting of several bills which bundled together were called the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The law made history by finally mandating a statewide campaign to protect and preserve the groundwater basins that collectively make up the reserves of California’s […]

COVID-19 Couldn’t Stop Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation from Honoring Heroes
By Nick Schou   |   November 26, 2020

For the past 22 years, the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation has celebrated Veterans Day in style with gala events at the Hilton Waterfront Resort (formerly the Fess Parker). The group is named after the Belgian-born architect and humanitarian who fondly remembered his homeland’s First World War rescue by allied troops before moving to Santa Barbara […]

Teacher’s Fund Raises Cash for Local Teachers in Back-to-School Drive
By Nick Schou   |   November 26, 2020

The Santa Barbara-based nonprofit Teacher’s Fund has raised tens of thousands in cash to help local teachers purchase tools and materials for their classrooms. Although the annual fundraiser, which took place between September 16 and October 16, had to be held online this year, it nonetheless managed to raise $56,000 worth of badly needed school […]

Still-Furloughed Four Seasons Biltmore Employees Now Seeking Lost Wages
By Nick Schou   |   November 26, 2020

Santa Barbara’s hospitality industry still isn’t close to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic but few employees have had it as bad as the roughly 450 workers from the Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara, all of whom were furloughed last March and who lost their employer-funded medical insurance in July. Although the resort is […]

Caldwell Snyder Gallery Opens New Storefront on Coast Village Road
By Nick Schou   |   November 19, 2020

Montecito’s newest storefront, the small yet striking Caldwell Snyder Gallery features a monumental Brad Howe steel sculpture out front and showcases works by an exclusive roster of 55 living contemporary artists from around the world. It’s no coincidence that it’s located just across the street from the Honor Bar. Along with his longtime partner Susan […]

101 Freeway Construction Update
By Nick Schou   |   November 19, 2020

Now that the 101 Freeway widening project is finally upon us, the Journal will be regularly updating you on all the details of ramp closures and other construction news to help you better navigate the traffic. Here is what to expect on the 101 between Carpinteria and Montecito for the following week. Keep in mind […]

Beekeepers Guild of Santa Barbara Announces Harvest Festival Award Winners
By Nick Schou   |   November 19, 2020

Earlier this year, the Journal highlighted the laudable efforts of our local beekeeping society, the Beekeepers Guild of Santa Barbara, to promote the health and welfare of our local pollinators. Aside from promoting best practices for maintaining beehives and providing resources for humane hive removal, the group also urges local residents to maintain bee-friendly gardens, […]

At Long Last, the Apocalyptic 101 Freeway Widening Project is Upon Us
By Nick Schou   |   November 12, 2020

By the time you read this, the outcome of the U.S. presidential race may not be decided, but one thing will be certain: The much-anticipated 101 Freeway widening project, which will add two new lanes between Summerland and Santa Barbara over the next three years, will not only not be over, it will have already […]

Election Season Haunts: Santa Barbara Area School Reopening Politics
By Nick Schou   |   November 5, 2020

On Tuesday, October 20, a few dozen teenagers held a protest outside the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s headquarters on Santa Barbara Street. Carrying signs bearing messages such as “We Want to Go Back to School” and “Give Us a Choice,” the group had a clear message for local school officials: After more than a […]

Annual Ghost Village Road Event a No-Go This Halloween
By Nick Schou   |   November 5, 2020

Every Halloween since 1996, the year after Montecito Journal’s first issue hit local newsstands, Coast Village Road has turned into “Ghost Village Road.” The annual event typically drew upwards of 1,000 parading trick-or-treaters along Coast Village Road, where local shop owners, restaurateurs, and hoteliers would hand out candy and in some cases create pop-up haunted […]

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 […]

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 […]