Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Extortion Scam Revolving Around Marijuana Dispensary

Extortion Scam Revolving Around Marijuana Dispensary

April 28, 2009 08:44 PM

April 28, 2009 09:56 PM

Tharon Weighill
Tharon Weighill
Scott Weighill
Scott Weighill


SANTA MARIA - Officers in Santa Barbara have arrested two men accused of extortion.

Police say 45 year old Tharon Weighill and 43 year old Scott Weighill held a 34 year old man captive in a back room of the Sacred Mountain Medical Marijuana Dispensary on Parker way.

The victim is a part owner of the business and his partner, Tharon Weighill, was trying to force him to sign over his share of the business at knife point.

Scott Weighill kept watch as the victim was being threatened.

Both men were booked into jail on charges of conspiracy, extortion and robbery.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Greening West Downtown Parkways

Perhaps we can adopt this method throughout the green challenged areas in West Downtown and Santa Barbara. i.e. 403 De La Vina, Haley corridor, etc. 
Greening the parkways will contribute to more community interaction, cooperation, and decreased litter production.

Are there city programs/grants to green parkways? Or...,Is private money the way to go? 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rogue Shopping Carts

More stolen shopping carts thrown around (Kingston, Ontario) by believeandmakeadifference.
Oh those Abandoned Shopping Carts that line our sidewalks, smash beautiful parkways, side walls, and occasionally skate up and down traffic is our topic today. 
Yes, you know what I'm referring to: urban blight.
We  all see them. But, do we all call the Abandoned Shopping Cart Hotline? 1-800-252-4613 and wait for the 1.5 minute message to play all the way through? (No, there is no way to by-pass this message). Once you describe the location and the cart's owner (Ralphs, Vons, Longs etc.) you can sit back and enjoy the view from your front porch for at least two days, before they are picked up, or another metal or plastic beauty makes its debut. 
Now wait here. SB Municipal Code (SBMMC 10.56) states that removing shopping carts from stores is illegal (without owner's permission), and therefore a misdemeanor. 

CA State Law States: The unauthorized removal of a shopping cart from a store parking lot is a violation of State law. (California Business and Professions Code, Section 22435). 

Officers rarely cite those who are in possession, and one even went as far as interpreting the municipal ordinance by stating that was "not illegal" or a "big deal". In fact, it was "okay", "as long as they pushed it up onto the sidewalk for pickup". What!? 
Well, here's the problem: Shopping carts end up abandoned around our homes, sidewalks, and  streets further contributing to urban blight. 
Now, isn't up to city council to pass laws/city ordinances and the city police force to enforce the rules/laws? (not to interpret them like the  officer--let's leave that up to the courts).
Well, let's really get this good old fashioned system rolling. If the laws were enforced more frequently, people would be reluctant to remove private property for the fear of being cited. 
Now SB, let's get tough and re-enforce the law like  OceansideSan Francisco, Fresno, and Madison Heights etc. Let's keep Santa Barbara beautiful! 
Oh, one more thing: It's not very green either. Abandoned Shopping carts get filled with refuse, needles, and other debris that end up in our streets, and ultimately flows to the ocean. Oh yes, I have seen some in our creeks! Good Grief!

Here's an alternative (see below): Longs, Home Improvement carries them for $20. Let's encourage our stores to post signs with strict rules clearly stating the consequences of shopping cart removal from store premises. Any other suggestions/solutions?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Taking Back you Neighborhood

Call Dispatch to report Crime. *897-2410-Program this # to your phone!

BTW: Calls made to 911 from your cell go immediately go to CHP, then to the dispatch center after 4-5 minutes.
Ask for a case #. If there is no case #, there is/was no "incident".

If crime has a strong grip on a neighborhood, it's hard to take the first steps toward reclaiming your streets. People are afraid that if they act, criminals will take revenge. You can counter this fear, and protect each other, by working closely with police and organizing group activities — there's safety in numbers. 
SBPD Dispatch: 897-2410
You may remain anonymous! 
-National Crime Council

Sunday, April 12, 2009


West Downtown Neighbors Are Joining Together to Improve Neighborhood Safety

Dated: 12/28/08

The West Downtown Neighbors are joining together to improve the safety and living standard in our Neighborhood.  
Our neighborhood comprises a diverse group of property owners, residents, businesses, non-profit community service agencies, and new mixed – use developments.  
A portion of the El Pueblo Viejo Design District as well as the Brinkerhoff Historic District are located within the West Downtown Neighborhood Area.

The general boundaries of our neighborhood area are as follows: 
Ortega Ave on the North, 101 Freeway on the South, State St on the East and the 101 Freeway on the West.
All those interested in working on constructive projects to improve our neighborhood are invited to participate. 
We have recognized the escalating crime rate where we live and the dangers posed to our families, day care center children, as well as our businesses.   
We are focused on working with our Local Police Officials, City Council and other organizations to obtain support for measures that will reduce the amount of crime in our community.

Tentative list of issues:
The West Downtown
Neighborhood feels the following measures needs to be addressed forthwith to accomplish neighborhood improvement:
  • Request City Council to remove the West Downtown Neighborhood from the approved geographical area of the City that permits Cannabis Dispensaries. We already have several dispensaries providing medicinal marijuana for the patients in the West Downtown area. Due to our high crime condition, we, the West Downtown neighborhood do not meet the criteria for approval of Cannabis Dispensaries per the City Ordinance. Therefore, we have drafted a *sign here* petition to prevent additional dispensary establishments from opening throughout our High Crime Area.
  • Establish an “Official Neighborhood Watch Program” with the Police Department to include Police liaison and monthly neighborhood reports on safety implementation measures.
  • Request that the Santa Barbara Police implement “Bike Patrols” within our neighborhood and effectively report the number of patrols/incidents monthly on crime statistic list, as these have a significant positive impact on reducing crime.
  • Replace defective street light bulbs throughout the neighborhood.  Install new street lights where needed as crime deterrent. 
  • Request The City Council to designate the West Downtown Neighborhood Area as an Alcohol Impact Area, due to chronic public inebriation offenses and associated high crime activity in area. 
  • West Downtown Neighborhood to form a network among neighborhood landlords to communicate and "self-discipline" the need to carefully screen applicants for rental housing in our neighborhood.  
  • Complete the ongoing request to install appropriate historic street lighting within the Brinkerhoff Historic District. (City Dept/ Brinkerhoff Neighborhood effort has been ongoing).    

Friday, April 10, 2009

New Street Lights Will Help Lower De la Vina Keep an Eye on Crime

Neighbors secure block grant to brighten crime-ridden area where resident was killed

By  | Published on 04.03.2009

Short-term street lighting will brighten the nights for residents of the lower De la Vina Street neighborhood, part of an effort to deter crime in the area where a man was stabbed to death in February.

Early on the morning of Feb. 22, the body of Baldemar Leal, 22, was found along the curb in the 400 block of De la Vina, near Haley Street. Santa Barbara police determined the new neighborhood resident had been dead for more than nine hours before authorities were contacted.

“It was so dark, that is why Mr. Leal was not found until the next morning,” said Christina Pizarro, who, along with several neighbors, has been organizing residents to reverse an increasing trend of crime in the area. So far, the neighbors have coordinated several cleanups and have been vocal with city officials about their needs.

The temporary lights are being installed in the 400 blocks of Bath and De la Vina streets and in the 100 and 200 blocks of West Gutierrez and West Haley streets.

In the longer term, the neighbors and the city are looking at permanent lighting. So far, said Pizarro, she has managed to get a $50,000 Community Block Development Grant to design the project, which would not only be permanent but expand to include other areas of the neighborhood.

“This is a preliminary step in establishing our short-term solutions,” Pizarro said. “We look forward to the long-term solutions.”

Six suspects have been arrested in the Leal murder investigation and three more have been arrested for alleged witness intimidation.

— Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached atsfernandez@noozhawk.com.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Deputies Make Historic Heroin Bust

Santa Barbara, CA-- After a 6-month investigation narcotics officer with the Santa Barbara Police Department and Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputies seized over 3 pounds of heroin from a residence in Santa Barbara.

With the help of the Santa Maria Police Department and the Santa Barbara Regional Narcotic Task Force, deputies were able to shut down several heroin and and methamphetamine dealers in Santa Barbara County.

According to authorities, Tuesday's heroin bust was the largest in for the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department.

Narcotics Detectives served search warrants at residences on the 80 block of Vista Del Mar, 1100 block of Punta Gorda St. and 1000 block of E. Cota St. in Santa Barbara. A fourth search warrant was served at a storage facility on S. Calle Cesar Chavez, also in Santa Barbara.

Detectives arrested two suspects while serving out the warrants and confiscated 3.5 lbs of heroin with a street value over $158,000 and $19,600 worth of crystal meth. Authorities also seized a sawed off shotgun, a handgun and $20,000 in cash

Both suspects were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on a number of drug charges.

Students living on Westside uneasy over string of murders

Students living on Westside uneasy over string of murders

Several violent crimes near campus are thought to be gang related

Kyle Rokes and Eryn Burkhart, The Channels Online

Issue date: 3/24/09 Section: News
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    Several blocks on the lower Westside were sealed off by police in relation to the Feb. 21 murder on the 400 block of De La Vina Street. Several students living in the area say that they are taking precautions when walking in the area.
    Media Credit: Michelle Wong
    Several blocks on the lower Westside were sealed off by police in relation to the Feb. 21 murder on the 400 block of De La Vina Street. Several students living in the area say that they are taking precautions when walking in the area.

Jacky Chang was on her way to church the same morning that the body of a murdered man was lying in the gutter, just around the corner from her front door. 

Baldemar Leal, a 22-year-old Mexican national was left to die on Haley Street outside Brownies Market on Saturday, Feb. 21 after suffering multiple stab wounds.

Over the last year, there have been several violent crimes committed in the vicinity of Haley Street and Bath Street on the lower Westside of Santa Barbara-some thought to be gang related.

Lawrence Kaiser was fatally stabbed in the neck at Lighthouse sobriety House on Haley Street on Dec. 11, 2008. He was 45. 

Nick Cavalier, 22, is now living with brain trauma after being attacked when he tried to help a friend in front of Tacos Y Mariscos Don Pepe on Chapala Street and Ortega Street on June 7, 2008.

These violent crimes have left many of the residents of the lower Westside feeling nervous about their neighborhoods.

Chang, a 20-year-old economics major from Peru, has lived in the neighborhood since January of 2008. 

"I heard from people this place is dangerous," she said. 

Chang doesn't go out at night. She doesn't know how late the local corner store is open because she never walks around after nightfall.

At her orientation for City College, the Santa Barbara Police Department gave new students tips on how to be safe, especially at night, because of the multiple incidents of gang related crime in the city.

She found the tips police gave to be a little obvious.

"Don't be distracted on a cell phone when alone," they told her. 

"Take special care when on the East Campus steps leading down to Montecito Street," the police said.

Chang has never seen a crime, let alone anything overtly suspicious. But friends who visit her have told her that some "weird characters" go in and out of homes near her-in numbers that suggest they don't all live there. This seems suspicious to her.
Other students who live in the area expressed concern about their safety, going on record about the recent crimes. 

Some agreed to talk. Some asked that they remain anonymous. But all of them agreed on two key points - that the Lower Westside has a dangerous element.

Brendan Keane, a student at City College used to live in the Harbor Heights apartments on the Lower Westside, but found more pleasant living near the intersection of Bath Street and Mission Street. 

"As you get farther away from the lighting, you get more break-ins," Keane said.

He keeps his curtains drawn, his business to himself and rarely sees his neighbors.

"I don't get into their business, they don't get into mine," Keane said. "That's sort of the vibe. Keep to yourself and nobody will bug you. Board up your personal life." 

A City College student who prefers to remain anonymous lives and works on the Bath Street and Haley Street area.

"Police, newspapers, television. They're here every day," he said.

He's lived in an apartment complex filled with students, where life can get a little hectic. But he doesn't feel any need to leave the neighborhood.

"I feel really, really safe about Santa Barbara and this neighborhood," he said. It's much safer than L.A. right?"

He felt that the City College safety lecture had "too much cushion," and was "filled with stupid things."? 

A 29-year-old in the drug-counseling certificate programming on Bath Street calls one of Santa Barbara's many sober-living houses home.

It is located between a heavily drug affiliated area and a liquor store, with State Street bars close at hand.

He said, if you make eye contact, a gangbanger may take it as 'mad-dogging,' a term that means to glare threateningly at someone. 

"They may think everybody's out to get them," he explained. "So out of fear or an automatic need to defend themselves, they retaliate."

He also said that in this neighborhood, "addiction and alcoholism has spread like wildfire."
Even before the economy started to fail, this overpopulated beachside town and tourist attraction was expensive to live in. He said as people lose control of their lives because of alcohol or drugs, some have also lost their homes.

Compared to other cities, he's never seen "this many homeless people."

And many of the homeless walk down Haley Street.

Viran "David" Singh, owner of Brownie's Market on the corner of Bath Street and Haley Street encourages his student employees and customers to be careful.

One of his employees, to whom Singh also rented a room to, quit his job and moved out after a local television station broadcasted footage of his workplace. He feared he would be identified, that some kind of retaliation could come his way. 

Singh noted a disturbing pattern - the last few murdered victims were all new to the neighborhood. 

In addition to taking obvious precautions like not walking through poorly lit sections of streets, Singh also stressed the importance of avoiding eye contact with anyone they feel is a suspicious character. 

While Santa Barbara may not have the reputation of gang-related crime that exists in big cities, these recent events have made quite a few people think twice before walking the streets at night.

Correction: Baldemar Leal was found dead on De La Vina street about a half a block between Cottage Grove and Haley street, according to SBPD Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte. The Channels regrets the error.

Garden exchange held April 05th

First Lower West Downtown garden exchange was a mix of homegrown food, live seedlings, and an off-leash dog romp.

by David Pritchett, who brought cut roses

I wrote an article for Edhat, with 4 photos, about the garden exchange event hosted by Cristine Collier (pictured) and held Sunday, 05th April 2009.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Short-Term Lighting Addressed in West Downtown

There There Be Light! This evening West Downtown residents will realize that their neighborhood sidewalks will be brighter and no longer pitch black at night. The 100-200 blocks of West Haley and Gutierrez and the 400 blocks of De La Vina and Bath will gain "cobra" lighting attached to the Southern CA Edison poles--This is the short-term solution, while the City of Santa Barbara works together with residents of the West Downtown Neighborhood to appropriate long-term funding for permanent pedestrian street lighting. Christina Pizarro of the West Downtown Neighborhood Group represented and helped secure a CDBG Pedestrian Lighting Design Grant in the amount of 50K--the first phase for permanent pedestrian lighting. 
City Council Member Helene Schneider has been working closely with the neighbors to address permanent lighting, Neighborhood Safety /Watch, Haley/De La Vina Bridge Restoration Project, Housing Authority Project (512 Bath) and other future plans scheduled in the West Downtown neighborhood. 

Note: We are the West Downtown Neighborhood!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

West Downtown Neighborhood Clean-Up March 28, 2009

KEYT News:
Keeping the West Downtown Neighborhood Looking Good! Thank you West Downtown Neighbors, Friends, Bishop Garcia Diego Student Volunteers, Looking Good Santa Barbara/City of Santa Barbara, Organizers:Lorraine Cruz Carpenter (LGSB), Christina Pizarro, and Sharon Byrne. Thank you Nita Medina for the delicious cookies and morning coffee! 
The West Downtown Neighborhood came together once again to continue their quests to regain and maintain a safer neighborhood. Both the young and mature attended--They picked weeds and raked out debris and leaves under the bright warm sun. City Council hopeful David Pritchett--a constant and dedicated presence in the West Downtown and partner Cathy Murillo got down and dirty removing grafitti from surfaces throughout our neighborhood.
Many veteran Clean-up participants brought their Adopt-A-Block gear: vests and trash picking sticks ready for action. Some even weedwacked their way through three foot brush! It was a successful and wonderful day of meeting, greeting,cleaning, and greening West Downtown. Go neighbors! 



Santa Barbara Edhat | Local Stories by Local People

Santa Barbara Edhat | Local Stories by Local People

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