City vs. Attorney in a Pair of Land-Use Spats

••• The recent buyer of an E. Mountain Drive house (above) for $19.385 million was Graham Duncan, cofounder of East Rock Capital. —Dirt

••• “Two local residents recently tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant of the novel coronavirus [a.k.a. the U.K. variant], which is considered a ‘variant of concern because it is thought to be more contagious and likely to cause greater illness or severe disease,’ Santa Barbara County Public Health officials said Thursday.” —Noozhawk

••• On Thursday, local attorney Joseph Liebman emailed out a triumphant press release about a victory:

The City of Santa Barbara refused to allow any construction on an ocean-front lot in a residential neighborhood located in the coastal zone [i.e., the Mesa]. The owner, Thomas Felkay, sued the City and won his case in the Santa Barbara Superior Court. The City appealed and is now out of options after losing again on March 18, 2021 [….] The City now has a liability of more than $3.6 million. […] This loss is a direct result of the poor advice given to City Council by City Attorney Ariel Calonne and City Manager, Paul Casey. Bad behavior has consequences. This is the end of the road and the City will pay for its poor decisions.

The next day, City Attorney Ariel Calonne fired off his own release regarding a victory over Liebman in another case.

Today City Attorney Ariel Calonne announced the City’s victory in Santa Barbara Inland & Coastal Property Rights Association vs. City of Santa Barbara. Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle ruled that the City’s existing short term vacation rental ordinances are valid and enforceable throughout the City. The case, which was funded by James Fenkner and brought by local attorney Joe Liebman, provided the opportunity for City lawyers to reveal evidence that California Coastal Commission staff improperly interfered in Santa Barbara’s inland zoning decisions at the behest of vacation rental business interests. […] Attorney Liebman declined to appeal, likely to avoid creating favorable precedent for the City. Instead he chose to pay the City $5,991.92 in court costs.

The Independent has more on each case, along with interesting back story that places blame for the Felkay matter on the city council.

••• “California just released new guidelines for outdoor sports including how many people are allowed to cheer their kids on in the stands. But Santa Barbara County isn’t adhering to the recommendation. […] Santa Barbara County officials say it won’t limit fans to one person per player as long as games are outdoors, and people are spaced out, similar to how they classify live performances outdoors.” —KSBY

••• Beanie Baby magnate and local hotel/club owner Ty Warner is having relationship drama. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Warner, who once pleaded guilty to tax evasion here only to walk away with probation, filed a five-page lawsuit Friday against Kathryn Zimmie of Ohio. He claims the two had a personal and business relationship and “spent a significant amount of time” living together in Illinois. Zimmie contends they even discussed getting married, according to Warner.

But Zimmie ended their personal relationship in October, according to Warner’s lawsuit. And Zimmie’s attorney has since sought compensation for Zimmie “in an eight-figure range” as a result of “an implied or oral agreement” with Warner, it alleges.

••• Those explosions you might have heard last week were likely sonic booms from military aircraft. —Edhat

••• Santa Barbara Magazine profiles a 1946 house renovated to be “California casual modern with a twist of the unexpected,” in the words of architect/designer Tamara Kaye-Honey.

••• “California Coastal Commission votes to eliminate off-highway vehicle (OHV) use in the Oceano Dunes. Landmark decision would phase out OHV access in 3 years, instead of 5 years as originally proposed.” —Dave Alley of KEYT


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Hello – I read on this site that More Mesa was in escrow, however could not find anything on the MLS. Do you know if this is still in escrow? And who the buyer is?


Erik Torkells

According to Zillow, the property (“0 More Mesa”) is still in escrow: Zillow Link. I’m afraid I have no way of finding out who the potential buyer is.