May 22, 2022

Tyler Hayden’s 2021 in Review

View Original Notice ? Tyler Hayden’s 2021 in Review

A good reporter, they say, should be able to cover a baseball game during the day and an opera at night. Meaning, versatility is one of a journalist’s greatest strengths. 

As I do every year, I tried to live up to that maxim for 2021, with stories about cute pets, a record-breaking drug bust, a billion-dollar tech start-up, and many other topics in between. Here are the highlights.

Church, State, and Taking Back Santa Barbara

An all-male Christian ministry that sought to influence local government figured prominently in the sudden and controversial “retirement” of the city’s top transportation planner.

From Felon to Firefighter: The Redemption of Jose Santana

A Santa Maria man who committed a heinous crime is given a second chance through a new state program that molds former offenders into licensed firefighters.

Evidation Is Santa Barbara’s Latest Billion Dollar Baby

This is the story of how America’s largest digital health network started around a kitchen table on Voluntario Street.

Inside the Organized Chaos of Santa Maria’s COVID ICU

The heroics of a hospital staff during the pandemic was on full display in this photo essay that also included an interview with photographer Daniel Dreifuss.

The Complicated Reality of Santa Barbara’s Biggest Ever Drug Bust

Five Sinaloan fishermen tried to smuggle 1.5 tons of methamphetamine into Santa Barbara. Were their actions by choice or by force?

County Settles Bryan Carreño Wrongful-Death Lawsuit for $850,000

Santa Barbara taxpayers were on the hook yet again for the actions of deputies who broke protocol, this time by shooting a suicidal man 20 times on the back patio of a La Cumbre home.

108 Unvaccinated Santa Barbara Deputies Still Not Testing

The Independent discovered that more than a third of Santa Barbara patrol deputies remain both unvaccinated and untested for COVID-19.


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Dormzilla Descends on UCSB

It was one of our follow-up articles on Munger Hall that went national, but this earlier piece was the first to expose the dormitory’s wildly unpopular design.

As UCSB Grows and Grows, It Falls Way Behind on Building Housing

This article portended the Munger Hall proposal and explains how the university shirked its duty to provide enough living space for students, staff, and faculty.

State Orders Independent Audit of Bellosguardo Foundation Finances

Soon after I wrote this scorched-earth op-ed on on alleged corruption at Bellosguardo, the state demanded an outside audit of the nonprofit’s books. The original deadline for the audit was extended and the review continues.

Santa Barbara Pets & Animals: From Fur Babies to Working Stiffs

We revived our annual ode to the creatures of our community with profiles on pets adopted during the pandemic, the zoo’s newest star, and 9-5 workers like the Sheriff’s Mounted Unit. 

The Santa Barbara Bars and Restaurants Who’ve Refused to Follow COVID-19 Rules

A records request revealed the businesses that continually flouted county orders to mask up and maintain social distancing.

The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

A court hearing took us into the mind of Cora Vides, a troubled teen with violent delusions who tried to kill her best friend.

Former Firearms Supplier Sold ‘Ghost Guns’ to Meth Dealers, Officials Say

A well-known gun dealer who operated Dodge City Shooters Supply for many years was busted for allegedly supplying drug dealers with untraceable pistols and lots of meth. 

The Art and Science of a Prescribed Burn

I tagged along with county firefighters to learn how they use fire, normally their mortal enemy, to clear brush, rehabilitate land, and prevent the next uncontrollable inferno.


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