Pacific Coast Business Times Proudly serving Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties 2015-01-27T01:24:07Z WordPress Elijah Brumback <![CDATA[Carrillo Plaza flipped to investor for $12.2M]]> 2015-01-26T23:27:50Z 2015-01-26T23:25:31Z Starbuck anchors the Carrillo Plaza shopping center at 210 W. Carrillo Blvd. The property recently sold for $12.2 to Los Angeles-based company. (Courtesy photo)

Starbucks anchors the Carrillo Plaza shopping center at 210 W. Carrillo Blvd. The property recently sold for $12.2M to a Los Angeles-based company. (Courtesy photo)


Thanks to a four-year renovation, new tenants and a Starbucks coffee anchor, owners of a downtown Santa Barbara property were able to flip the Carrillo Street asset for $12.2 million.

The buyer was New Group-Santa Barbara, a Los Angeles-based business entity.

Carrillo Plaza is located at 210 W. Carrillo Blvd. and was sold by Carrillo Holdings, a Santa Barbara-based real estate company. It has shed six Santa Barbara pr

operties over the last 18 months.

The nearly 19,000-square-foot Carrillo property was completely renovated over the last four years and is the new home of Tino’s Italian Grocery, which has moved from its longtime De La Guerra Street location.

Savills Studley Executive Vice President Bill Bauman and Corporate Managing Director Kyle Miller, represented the seller in the transaction.

“The timing was right to take an advantage of a dynamic marketplace and leverage the successful repositioning of the property,” Miller said in a release. “The seller invested the capital needed to enhance the appeal of the center, attract tenants, and ultimately realize a rewarding sales price.”

The Carrillo Plaza sale is the latest trasaction in a series of sell-offs for Carrillo Holdings. The company is registered to Rebecca Ingram, managing partner of The Hangar, a car collector’s storage facility in Santa Barbara, and operations manager for Eastern Real Estate. Brian Kelly, a well-known South Coast real estate investor owns The Hangar and is the co-founder of Eastern Real Estate.

When reached for comment on the sales, Ingram declined to comment on the recent transaction or past deals.

Included in the previous six deals off-loaded by Carrillo Holdings are the Union Bank building in Montecito for $16 million, the Sonos corporate R&D headquarters at 25 E. Mason St. for roughly $19 million, and a project on Anacapa Street in the Funk Zone for $12 million, according to Savills Studley.

The Business Times previously reported that Kelly snapped up the Sonos property for $9 million in 2012 under East Mason SB LLC.

New Group-Santa Barbara is registered to Charals Haagen, son of the late shopping center tycoon Alexander Haagen. The elder Haagen died in 2011 and was famous for his involvement in the Coliseum-Irwindale controversy, the result of a dispute with former Los Angeles Raiders owner Al Davis.

“This opportunity met all of the buyer’s investment criteria, including the property’s location in a coastal, high-barrier-to-entry trade area, its high visibility within the sub market, and the stability of the asset,” Savills Studley’s Bauman said in the release.

Erika Martin <![CDATA[Autoliv’s Goleta operation shines light on safety]]> 2015-01-23T20:35:45Z 2015-01-23T08:03:13Z The night-vision system produced by Autoliv in Goleta highlighted in BMW promotional materials. The automakers cars alert drivers of nearby pedestrians and animals in four ways: an infrared display, the intstrument panel, the heads-up display and a spotlight. (Photo courtesy Autoliv)

The night-vision system produced by Autoliv in Goleta highlighted in BMW promotional materials. The automakers cars alert drivers of nearby pedestrians and animals in four ways: an infrared display, the intstrument panel, the heads-up display and a spotlight. (Photo courtesy Autoliv)

It happens to the best of us: You’re driving at night, eyes diligently on the road, when a pedestrian suddenly appears in your vehicle’s path.

It’s not the kind of adrenaline rush consumers seek from their cars, and Swedish company Autoliv is working from its Goleta facilities to reduce these hazardous situations. The publicly traded maker of auto safety products is harnessing the South Coast’s expertise in infrared technology to produce night-vision systems that are available in new Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Rolls-Royce models.

The design uses a thermal imaging sensor — also made in Goleta by FLIR Systems — to give drivers an infrared view of their surroundings and alert them to pedestrians or animals they are in danger of hitting. It also provides an image that cuts through dangerous conditions such as smoke and fog.

While the exact setup differs across the various makes and models, the system uses the center console to display an infrared view of the vehicle’s surroundings that highlights subjects in its path and will also alert the driver via the instrument panel beneath the steering wheel, and in some models the head-up display. Outside the U.S., the vehicles also come equipped with a dynamic spotlight below each headlight that highlights pedestrians, yet is undetectable to them. Current American regulations prohibit the technology.

Stuart Klapper, managing director of Autoliv Night Vision, said this is due to outdated legislation and the company has met with officials in Washington to discuss updating the policy.

“The regulations for the U.S. were developed in 1968, and there are so many different advances in lighting technology, like laser headlights, that the government will have to change the way lighting regulations are written today,” Klapper said. “This is technology that saves peoples lives.”

Klapper joined Autoliv’s Goleta team eight years ago, but his work in night vision extends back to 1978, when he began his career at Hughes Aircraft and led the development of the first imaging pyroelectric sensors. He went on to install the first automotive night vision system on the 2000 Cadillac Deville at Texas Instruments and co-found Raytheon’s commercial infrared division.

He now heads the 50-employee Goleta operation, which produced 100,000 of the systems last year, up from 60,000 in 2013. That makes Autoliv the largest maker of infrared cameras in the U.S. by volume, Klapper said. The company expects to push production up to 300,000 units this year.

“The reason why we’re doing night vision technology is because 69 percent of all pedestrian fatalities do occur at night, and there’s a four times greater risk that you’ll hit somebody at nighttime, even though really only a quarter of the driving occurs at night,” Klapper said. “And 30 percent of pedestrians that you may hit will end up with a permanent medical impairment. The whole accident can be a life-changing legal and emotional event.”

The systems are put together by just five employees on a company-designed production line that analyzes the product at each step and will halt the process if it finds an error. The camera itself is situated at the front of the car — stashed in an Audi’s signature rings, for example — and is immediately disabled when detached from the car.

Klapper said its largest markets so far have been the U.S., China and Germany, which each make up a quarter of the company’s sales. He expects other countries to catch on once the technology becomes cheaper to produce and feasible for lower-priced cars.

“Our mission is to ultimately bring it down to a point where you can put this on any vehicle,” he said. “Today, it’s mostly on luxury vehicles, but we’re working now with some [original equipment manufacturers] that are mid-level that will soon introduce our system as well.”

The company bought a BMW X5 and was able to add its dynamic spotlight, which led to the realization that subjects are oblivious they’re in limelight. The streets of densely populated Isla Vista and dimly lit Santa Barbara gave Klapper’s team an ideal testing environment to fine-tune the range and sensitivity of the infrared sensor, he said.

“When I’ve been driving this car around Santa Barbara I get a spotlight alert and I think, ‘There’s nobody out there.’ Then, boom — I can’t believe it, there’s a person right there,” Klapper said. “It makes me think, how many times do I drive at night without the system and not realize there’s actually a person on or near the road that I’m close to hitting and I have no clue?”

But if you’re driving in an area with high pedestrian traffic such as Manhattan, the system is programmed to not cry wolf.  “If they’re off the road but will potentially cross, we pay attention to what that pedestrian is doing,” Klapper said. “If they’re standing still or moving away from the path of the vehicle, we won’t prove the alert because nobody wants to keep getting alerts all the time,. But if a pedestrian looks like they’re headed toward the path of the vehicle, then we provide the alert to the driver.”

Autoliv was founded in 1953 by brothers Stig and Lennart Lindblad. It teamed with Volvo to create the first safety belt in 1956 and has grown to become the world’s largest supplier of airbags and seat belts, with 50,000 employees in 80 facilities across 29 countries.

Though the company exclusively produces automobile safety products, it has developed many technologies that provide consumers preventative as well as reactive safety. This includes features such as high beams that automatically dim when another car is near or a display of open escape routes in case of emergency.

“There are a lot of automotive parts suppliers that build lots of things: engines, controllers, wheels, whatever. We’re just about safety. That’s what our heritage and our company is all about,” Klapper said. “Every day when people at Autoliv get up and go to work, they feel good that they’re actually saving lives.”

The company is also teaming with Mercedes-Benz to supply sensor technologies for its F 015 autonomous concept car. Klapper said the industry as a whole is ultimately headed to a future in which drivers rely on radar more than their own capacities.

“You might say that’s dangerous, but in reality our sensors are much faster and better at actually seeing what’s out there than we are as humans,” he said. “As humans, we react sometimes slowly, sometimes we’re distracted listening to music or talking on the phone. The car is not going to do all those things. It’s just going to be looking at the road, so it’s really a much better solution for avoiding accidents.”

• Correction, Jan 23. at 12:31 p.m.: A previous version of this article stated that Autoliv’s system uses a thermal imaging camera from FLIR Systems. Autoliv uses a sensor from FLIR, but builds the cameras in-house.

Marissa Wenzke <![CDATA[Tesla Motors takes charge on South Coast]]> 2015-01-26T18:18:53Z 2015-01-23T08:01:22Z A Tesla Motors Model S electric vehicle stands on display at the company’s showroom in Beijing, China. (Bloomberg News photo)

A Tesla Motors Model S electric vehicle stands on display at the company’s showroom in Beijing, China. (Bloomberg News photo)

After months of speculation, Tesla Motors officials have confirmed the opening of the electric carmaker’s first dealership in the Tri-Counties, to open in Santa Barbara sometime in the next few months.

The company has not released a firm opening date. The new 25,000-square-foot store will be a sales and service center located at 400 Hitchcock Way, the former location of Hughes Automobile Co., which shut its doors in December. The store will feature interactive touchscreens, design centers and other tools for buying and customizing made-to-order vehicles directly from the Palo Alto-based manufacturer, according to Tesla Spokesperson Alexis Georgeson.

“The Tesla store will feature a big screen on the back wall, private sitting areas where customers and product specialists can talk more intimately, design studios where visitors can customize their Model S, and a display Model S that invites visitors to slide into the driver’s seat,” Georgeson told the Business Times in an email. “Test drive vehicles are also available so people can feel the thrilling performance of Model S.”

The Model S sedan is Tesla’s flagship car. It retails for a base price of $69,900 and has a battery range of up to 270 miles.

On Feb. 2, the city of Santa Barbara’s Architectural Board of Review will review Phase 1 of the store’s construction, which includes remodeling of the existing building and building a walkway to the store’s entrance, said Santa Barbara City Planner Suzanne Riegel.

“It could be approved sometime in February, but I don’t know if the board will be ready to approve it at the first meeting,” she said. “They’re still waiting on documentation for the environmental review.”

Like Tesla’s other stores, the new location will not carry inventory. It will sell its cars through a tech-savvy business model that puts the focus on customization and design, rather than traditional marketing and sales efforts.

“Every car that comes off the Tesla factory line in California is built to order, customized to meet each customer’s specific wants and needs,” Georgeson wrote in an email. “This sales model helps Tesla maintain a no-pressure environment in our stores; we never have an inventory lot to move and none of our product specialists work on commission.”

Another thing that sets Tesla apart from other carmakers is its direct-to-consumer sales model, which has drawn criticism from traditional American car dealers. Though the manufacturer currently has more than 50 showrooms across 20 states, its practice of owning and operating its dealerships directly has been outlawed in a number of states, including Texas and New Jersey, due to laws requiring carmakers to retail their vehicles through franchised car dealerships.

In the U.S. car capital, Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill in October 2014 to ban Tesla from selling its automobiles without a dealership network. The bill also prohibits auto manufacturers from setting the fees that franchised car dealers can charge customers.

Despite the blowback, Tesla has charged forward with expansion in other states. The same month that Michigan outlawed Tesla’s direct sales, the carmaker unveiled its dual motor all-wheel drive version of the Model S and an autopilot system.

In company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, company officials said these new additions have drawn bigger sales that are expected to grow further in 2015.

“These announcements have significantly increased our weekly Model S order rate. Based on net orders since that announcement, excluding the extraordinary initial demand peak, we are confident of a 50 percent increase in both net orders and deliveries for Model S alone in 2015,” the filings state. “Moreover, we expect that demand for Model S will continue to increase worldwide as we grow our customer support infrastructure and continue to broaden the appeal of our products, and as consumer awareness improves.”

Elijah Brumback <![CDATA[Pacifica Hotels makes bet on future of East Beach property]]> 2015-01-23T20:47:35Z 2015-01-23T08:00:54Z Elijah Brumback

Elijah Brumback

The city of Santa Barbara’s Architectural Board of Review had its first look at designs for the latest hotel development proposed for downtown on Jan. 20.

The 100-plus room hotel is being proposed by Pacifica Hotels and its parent company Invest West Financial Corp. — the same firm that recently completed The Wayfarer hostel in the Funk Zone.

The proposal includes demolishing an existing 12,000-square-foot building to construct a  55,000-square-foot, 45-foot tall hotel at 926 Indio Muerto St., not far from the Fess Parker Double Tree Resort. Further details about the project describe a three-story hotel with 115 to 120 rooms and a 90-space, semi-subterranean parking lot. Pacifica Hotels is seeking Planning Commission review for a development plan, a coastal development permit and a transfer of existing development rights.

The review board continued the project discussion indefinitely until the full board can review the proposal. The initial review produced several comments and suggested revisions to massing, landscaping and height, according to a city planning department official.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about [the project] going forward and we hope the city is as excited about it as we are,” said Matt Marquis, president and chief operating officer of Invest West. “It’s going to be a boutique Santa Barbara-styled hotel that will fit right in to the area.”

Restaurant to open near airport

High Sierra Grill House, a Fresno-based BBQ restaurant concept, could touch down in Santa Barbara soon, pending lease approval from the city council.

The Santa Barbara Airport Commission recommended Jan. 21 that the city council approve a 10-year access license and lease agreement with three five-year options. High Sierra Grill House would lease the former Elephant Bar in Goleta, which closed  Aug. 18, 2013.

The monthly rent for the nearly 8,700-square-foot building at 521 Norman Firestone Road would be $12,694, according to Airport Commission documents.

The Elephant Bar operated for nearly 30 years in the location at Santa Barbara Airport before the company shut its doors for good in mid-August, with restaurant officials citing the surrounding area’s lack of economic growth as the cause of the closing.

The Costa Mesa-based parent company of Elephant Bar filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, closed 16 restaurants and is seeking a buyer for its business.

Jackson leads CEQA reboot

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, has just introduced a bill to streamline and expedite the environmental review process under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, California’s landmark law for evaluating and mitigating the environmental impacts of major development projects.

SB 122, which is jointly authored by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, seeks to create efficiencies in the environmental review process without undermining the law’s goal of informed environmental decision-making. It is the result of input gathered from a variety of stakeholders — business and environmental groups, local government agencies, lawyers, academics and others — over a number of months following a letter the Senate Judiciary and Environmental Quality committees sent to stakeholders in May.

“This bill is a modest and practical measure designed to help bring this process into the 21st Century, and make it more efficient and more accessible to the public,” Jackson in a news release. “It is not intended to upend or undermine the environmental goals of CEQA in any way.”

Ventura County’s healthy market

Ventura County’s overall vacancy rate of 6 percent is indicative of a healthy market, according to Daum Commerical Real Estate’s most recent market report. The report looks even better when the Camarillo properties vacated by Harbor Freight and Technicolor are removed from the data, dropping the vacancy to 4.6 percent.

According to the report, there are four trends that the statistics illustrate. First, the multi-tenant market has improved substantially over the past two years. Next, the number of available buildings for sale is at or close to five-year lows for six major Ventura County cities.

Additionally, Camarillo has struggled with several large buildings becoming vacant; its vacancy rate has increased by 1.3 percent  over the past year, to 8.5 percent, now the second highest in the county.

Finally, even with a good 2014, there are several segments of the market that continue to languish. Camarillo had zero leases completed for properties between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet during 2014, with several properties offered for lease in that size range.

• Contact Elijah Brumback at

Marissa Wenzke <![CDATA[A business to relish: Pacific Pickle Works looks to expand statewide]]> 2015-01-26T18:19:42Z 2015-01-23T08:00:54Z


    This article is only available to Business Times subscribers
  • Subscribers: LOG IN or REGISTER for complete digital access.
  • Not a Subscriber? SUBSCRIBE for full access to our weekly newspaper, online edition and Book of Lists.
  • Check the STATUS of your Subscription Account.
Staff Report <![CDATA[New faces, new money at nonprofits throughout the region]]> 2015-01-23T07:54:56Z 2015-01-23T08:00:50Z After raising more than $2 million in funding, the Foundation for the San Luis Obispo Performing Arts Center opened its fundraising effort, called the Encore Campaign, to the public on Jan. 22, with a sold-out show at the center called “Curtain Up!”

The endowment campaign has been in the works since 2013, and the group estimates that it has reached about 80 percent of its fundraising goal after gathering donations from 87 foundation members.

Each year, the foundation provides the center with about 55 percent of the funding necessary to continue its operations; the other 45 percent is generated by hall rental and technical fees. With supplemented funding, the PAC provides discounted rental rates for local artists and youth.

New VCCF leader

As for nonprofit news further down the coast, the Ventura County Community Foundation has named Vanessa Bechtel its president and CEO.

Bechtel most recently served as executive director of the SBCC Foundation, which has $49 million in assets and benefits Santa Barbara City College. During her time there, the organization’s annual fundraising numbers doubled.

At the VCCF, Bechtel will oversee $137 million in charitable assets and a scholarship program that awarded $1.2 million to local students in 2014.

She will be replacing Hugh  Ralston, who previously left the foundation to take on a leading role at the Fresno Regional Foundation.

Once named Business Woman of the Year by the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, Bechtel graduated from UCSB with a degree in law and society and is currently pursuing an MBA at USC.


Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care in Santa Barbara has hired Julie Posada as director of personal care services. With more than 25 years of experience in operating nonprofits, Posada will bring expertise to the position in dealing with non-medical assistance for patients such as providing post-injury support for recovery.

She has a bachelor’s degree in business from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.


The Santa Barbara Community College District Board of Trustees elected Marianne Kugler as president of the board for 2015, with Marty Blum as vice president.

Kugler has acted as an adjunct professor of sociology of education and urban education and dean of the School of Education and Human Service at the University of Michigan Flint.

She has a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, an elementary teaching credential from UCLA, a master’s degree from the University of New Mexico, and a doctoral degree from Michigan State University.

Blum is a two-time mayor of Santa Barbara and former member of the city’s planning commission. She has worked in Santa Barbara city government for more than 20 years.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Purdue University, a master’s degree in education from UCLA, and her J.D. degree from Loyola Law School.


Gil Stork, the superintendent and president of Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, has been elected chair of the governing board at Sierra Regional Medical Center for 2015.

Stork has served on the board for five years, most recently as secretary and treasurer.

Other new members to the board include Tom Jones, director of corporate affairs at Pacific Gas and Electric, as vice chair; and Scott Bisheff, medical director of Sierra Vista’s Emergency Department, as secretary and treasurer.

Botanic Garden

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has elected James O. Koopmans as chairman of its board of trustees, in addition to welcoming three new officers.

Koopmans is a tax partner with Damitz, Brooks, Nightingale, Turner & Morrisset in Santa Barbara, and the new officers are Marc Fisher, John Parke, and Susan Spector.

Fisher is the vice chancellor for administrative services and campus architect at UC Santa Barbara and previously was the campus architect and director of design at UCLA.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from West Virginia University and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.

Parke is a partner at Allen & Kimbell in Santa Barbara, with his practice focusing on civil litigation dealing with real estate and trust law.

He has more than 30 years of experience in law; he received a bachelor’s degree from UCSB and graduated from the UCLA School of Law.

Spector is currently active in community service, having retired from his occupation as an interpreter and translator for the United States Department of State.

Pacific Coast Business Times <![CDATA[Editorial: Je suis Wendy?]]> 2015-01-23T06:46:21Z 2015-01-23T08:00:49Z Oops, she did it again.

Channeling her inner Britney Spears, Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw once again has thrust herself into the public spotlight in a nasty way.

So far she’s feuded with her own employees, the cops over DUI arrests and several  elected officials who happen to be women. Now she has enraged the Latino community by using the inflammatory word “illegals” in a headline, first on Jan. 3, in a move that brought howls of protest. And just to make sure everybody knew she wasn’t backing down, she did it again.

We’re not fans of McCaw and her high-handed tactics. Nor are we fans of the creeps who recently vandalized the News-Press offices. We’re also not fans of those who would want to form a community press oversight committee to police “inappropriate” language.

A robust and spirited public debate is what the framers had in mind when they created the First Amendment. And to that end, we’ll defend McCaw’s right to be tacky and cruel.

We’ll also defend the public’s right to protest, to boycott and to hold her up to ridicule. That, not violence or censorship, is the American way.