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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

Why Marge C. Called the Cops on Scafide

At 6:10 p.m. last Friday evening, a SBPD dispatcher sent two officers to 18 W. Victoria Street, responding to a telephone complaint about “a male trespassing in a meeting,” described by the caller as “5’6,” balding, blue checkered shirt.”

C'mon, Jim Scafide's at least four inches taller than that.

The previously unreported incident ended quickly, quietly and with no complaints filed, but nonetheless has fueled fervid rumors, excited gossip and whispered innuendo on the campaign trail for the past week, for three reasons:

1-Scafide is the Democratic Party’s candidate in the tight 4th District race for city council, making his actions a matter of public interest, especially when they end up in the police log.

2-A second key character in the episode is Margaret L. Cafarelli, aka Marge Cafarelli, the colorful and tough-as-nails Santa Barbara (and San Francisco) real estate investor and developer.

3-Their previously behind-the-scenes discord, which spilled into public view when the cops arrived (SBPD report CP 2017-62639) derives from a dispute over governance and finances at one of the city’s most high-profile mixed use downtown developments: Alma Del Pueblo, the 37-residential condo project which Cafarelli’s company built and manages along with The Public Market at the aforementioned 18 W. Victoria address.

All the news that fits. Nobody wants to talk much about what lies behind the latest episode in Santa Barbara's civic soap opera, but in the interest of, harrumph, harrumph, Transparency and the Public’s Right to Know, we dispatched a crack research team from our Department of Fervid Rumors, Excited Gossip and Whispered Innuendo to get to the bottom of things.

Alas, they found no juicy scandal, nor even a dusty, desiccated one.

After we started asking questions about the dispute, both Scafide and Cafarelli sent us a formal statement, which you can read at the bottom of this post, outlining their perspectives.

It boils down to this:

Scafide represents someone who owns an Alma Del Pueblo condo, and he has accompanied that person to several previous meetings involving concerns about the management. Last Friday night was Alma Del Pueblo’s Owner’s Meeting; when Jim showed up with the owner he represents, Marge asked him to leave, citing a state law which limits attendance at such meetings to owners.

Scafide, for professional and privacy reasons he can't specify, didn't want to leave, so Cafarelli called the cops, then got her lawyer on the cell phone to scold the attorney/candidate on speaker while the assembled owners waited.

When the cops showed up, Cafarelli adjourned the meeting, to be rescheduled. She talked to the cops, Scafide talked to the cops, Scafide and his principal left, and Officer Thomas Diefenthaler wrote up the "Trespassing in Progress" complaint as a “No Action/Public Assist.”

"Subject was attorney for client at meeting," he wrote. "Neither party requested a report. Meeting was canceled."

There were no injuries..

A final point: Scafide suggests in his statement that Cafareflli is trying to embarrass him for political reasons. Marge, who lives in the 4th district, told me by email that she isn’t supporting anyone in the race.

Old joke:

Q: How many lawyer jokes are in existence?

A: Only three. All the rest are true stories.


Images: Jim Scafide; Marge Cafarelli.

Email us with news tips at or comment on our stories on our Facebook page - SB City Desk. Thanks for reading.

Here is Marge Cafarelli’s statement to Newsmakers:

On Friday, October 6, 2017, the Alma del Pueblo Owners Association (“Association”) held a routine Board meeting which is only open to owners, not to members of the public or third-


Santa Barbara attorney James F. Scafide, who is not an owner in the Association, attended the meeting with an owner who he represents. Prior to Friday’s Board meeting, Mr. Scafide had threatened legal action against the Association.

When asked by the Association’s Board of Directors to leave their meeting, he refused. The Board contacted the Association’s legal counsel, Jasmine F. Hale, a Partner at Adams Stirling PLC, during the meeting for advice.

Ms. Hale requested Mr. Scafide leave the meeting, advised that his presence qualified as a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct and was contrary to well-established law, and

recommended the Board contact the police in the event Mr. Scafide refused to leave voluntarily.

Ultimately, the Board was forced to call the police and adjourned the meeting due to the disruption.

The Association is a common interest development and mixed-use community in Santa Barbara consisting of 37 residential condominiums and 3 commercial units. Adams Stirling PLC is California’s premiere law firm dedicated to representing residential and commercial associations.

Here is Jim Scafide’s statement to Newsmakers.

I continue to be disappointed with the way that Margaret Cafarelli has chosen to handle a very delicate issue that concerns fundamental rights of privacy of my client, only causing my client further humiliation and stress.

(Her) statement, which is full of inaccuracies and half-truths, is clearly intended to embarrass me because I am a candidate for City Council.

I specifically deny that my presence at the meeting was a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, or otherwise inappropriate. I have numerous clients and have been involved in various disputes on their behalf. This is the first and only time that someone has attempted to use the media as a tool to deny my client of their constitutional rights.

While I am disappointed that Margaret Cafarelli has decided to take this route, I will not be deterred in continuing to defend the fundamental rights of individuals.

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