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Who We Are

ARIEL CALONNE  (pronounced "R-E-L KA-LAWN")
City Attorney
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Mr. Calonne received his law degree at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.  He received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of California at Riverside.  Before coming to Santa Barbara in March 2014, Mr. Calonne spent 7 years as the city attorney of Ventura, 4 years as the city attorney of Boulder, Colorado, and 13 years as the city attorney of Palo Alto.

Mr. Calonne served as President of the City Attorneys Department of the League of California Cities in 1998-1999 and was named Public Lawyer of the Year in 2003 by the Public Law Section of the State Bar of California.  In 2006, the Colorado Metro City Attorneys Association honored him with the Outstanding City Attorney award.

Mr. Calonne has authored numerous articles and amicus curiae briefs on public records, First Amendment governmental immunity, and open government issues.  He was the founding chairperson of the League of California Cities’ Public Records Act Committee from 1994 until January 1998.  He was a member of the advisory committee to the Joint Senate-Assembly Task Force on Personal Information and Privacy chaired by California State Senator Steve Peace.  In 1996 and 1997, Mr. Calonne participated on the Electronic Access to Public Records Task Force formed under the Senate Select Committee on Information Services in State Government.

Before serving in Palo Alto, he was with the Los Angeles law firm of Richards, Watson & Gershon where he served as city attorney for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.  He began his career as an associate with Best, Best & Krieger in Riverside, California where he practiced water, municipal and environmental law.

Litigation Paralegal
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Ms. Clendenen is part of the Litigation team, working primarily with Assistant City Attorney, Tom R. Shapiro defending the City in litigation matters pending in both state and federal courts.  Ms. Clendenen joined the City Attorney’s Office in 2011.  Before coming to the City Attorney's Office, she had 20+ years of litigation experience working in private law firms in Santa Monica and Los Angeles primarily representing public sector employees in the areas of tort and employment law.  Ms. Clendenen is a graduate of Westmont College with her Bachelor’s degree in English and Sociology.  In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, hiking and spending time with family.

Assistant City Attorney
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Mr. Doimas joined the City Attorney’s Office in 2011.  He serves as the advisor to the Police, Library, Human Resources, and Building and Safety Department.  Mr. Doimas also works on projects for the Community Development Department, as well as, the Public Works Department.  In addition, he handles pitchess motions, administrative hearings, civil service hearings, serves as a back-up on civil litigation matters, and also drafts and reviews ordinances.

Originally from Chicago, Mr. Doimas received his law degree from Loyola University Chicago with highest honors and earned bachelor degrees in Political Science and History and a minor in economics from DePaul University. 

Litigation Paralegal
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Ms. Fitz-Gerald joined the litigation team in 2018 and served as a Deputy City Clerk with the City of Santa Barbara for a year and a half before coming on board.  Before that, she worked for several years at the Santa Barbara Superior Court both as Judicial Assistant to the Honorable Thomas P. Anderle and as Probate Clerk to the Honorable J. William McLafferty.  Currently, Ms. Fitz-Gerald primarily assists Assistant City Prosecutor, Denny Wei.

Ms. Fitz-Gerald earned her Master’s degree in Public Administration, with distinction, from California State University, Northridge, her Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and obtained her paralegal certificate through UC Santa Barbara’s extension program.  She is a member of the Santa Barbara Paralegal Association and has served on the board as Vice President of Programs, Treasurer, and Co-chair of the Annual MCLE Conference.

Legal Assistant
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Ms. Garrett joined the office in 2021.  Before coming to the City Attorney's Office, she worked for 20 years in the administration office at the Santa Barbara Superior Court, and served as both the Interpreter Coordinator and as the Judicial Assistant to the Honorable Brian E. Hill. 

Ms. Garrett is also part of the Litigation team, working primarily with Assistant City Attorney, Tom R. Shapiro.  Ms. Garrett received her Bachelor’s degree in Law & Society from the University of California at Santa Barbara.  Born and raised in Goleta/Santa Barbara, she is a huge sports fan, attending events when she can and enjoys going to the beach, camping, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Assistant City Attorney
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 Mr. Hentschke joined the City Attorney’s Office in December 2017.  Before joining the office he served as General Counsel for the San Diego County Water Authority (1998-2015) and City Attorney for the cities of Oceanside (1991-1998), San Marcos (1987-1993) and Solana Beach (1986-1998).  He also served as assistant city attorney for Carlsbad (1979-1986) and as a deputy city attorney for San Diego (1977-1979).  Dan was the president of the City Attorney’s Department of the League of California Cities (1995-1996) and currently serves on the Department’s Municipal Finance and Brown Act Committees. He also served several terms as a member of the Municipal Law Handbook editorial board.   Dan is a member of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Association of California Water Agencies, and has served as its vice-chair and chair.

Mr. Hentschke is the author or co-author of numerous appellate briefs, papers, guidebooks, and other publications, as well as frequent speaker regarding a wide array of water, municipal, and public finance topics.  He is a co-author of the Proposition 218 and Proposition 26 implementation guides published by the League of California Cities and Association of California Water Agencies. Mr. Hentschke is a product of Santa Barbara’s public education system from elementary school through UCSB graduation.

Assistant City Attorney
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Ms. Knecht received her law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She graduated as a member of the Order of the Coif and in the top 5 graduates of her class. Prior to joining the City Attorney’s Office in 2004 as an Assistant City Attorney, Ms. Knecht worked for the Santa Barbara law firm of Hatch & Parent where she served as deputy city attorney for the city of Carpinteria and special counsel for several special districts including Goleta West Sanitary District and the Central Coast Water Authority in additional to private real estate developers.  She began her public law career working at the Orange County law firm of Rutan & Tucker where she served as deputy city attorney for the cities of Yorba Linda and Villa Park and special counsel for several redevelopment agencies.  Ms. Knecht represents the Finance, Waterfront, and Housing Departments within the City.  

Ms. Knecht began her public service career as a city planner working for several jurisdictions including Riverside County, and the cities of San Bernardino and Hermosa Beach.  Prior to moving to Santa Barbara in 1996, Ms. Knecht pursued her passion for adventure and photography and lived in East Africa for four years.

Assistant City Attorney
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Tava Ostrenger joined the Santa Barbara City Attorney’s Office in 2007.  Ms. Ostrenger began her career with the City Attorney’s Office handling civil and misdemeanor code enforcement litigation.  In 2011 Ms. Ostrenger was assigned as the advisor to the Public Works Department.  As the attorney for the Public Works Department she provides legal counsel on issues relating to land use, public infrastructure, and public contracting.  Ms. Ostrenger also provides advice to the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport and litigates cases brought against the City.

Ms. Ostrenger received her law degree from Santa Barbara College of Law and her bachelor degree in Sociology, with a minor in History, from the University of California at Santa Barbara.  Ms. Ostrenger also serves as a volunteer judge for the Santa Barbara County Teen Court Program.

Legal Office Supervisor
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Ms. Pencek joined the City Attorney’s Office as a Legal Secretary in 1994 and became Legal Office Supervisor in 2003.  She currently assists City Attorney Ariel Calonne, and Assistant City Attorney John Doimas, as well as supervising all support staff.  Ms. Pencek also supports the City Attorney with the office budget and other financial matters.  A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and devoted Husker fan, she enjoys time with her family and playing soccer.

Deputy City Attorney  
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Ms. Sosa-Acosta joined the City Attorney’s Office in 2021. She works on civil litigation matters pending in state and federal courts and advises on various city matters. Prior to joining the City Attorney’s Office, Ms. Sosa-Acosta was a litigation associate at an international law firm in San Francisco, primarily working on securities litigation and internal investigations.

Ms. Sosa-Acosta began her career as an advocate for various organizations. She was a certified legal intern for the Housing Litigation Clinic of the East Bay Community Law Center, where she represented low-income clients in landlord-tenant litigation. As a member of the Post-Conviction Advocacy Project, she worked closely with a client serving a life sentence in preparation for his successful parole hearing. Prior to law school, she served as a Jails Project Legal Intern at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Ms. Sosa-Acosta received her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She also received her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Redlands with a dual major in public policy and women, gender, and sexuality studies.

Assistant City Attorney  

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Mr. Shapiro specializes in civil litigation involving municipalities with an emphasis on civil rights and police liability cases.   He has been with the City Attorney’s Office since 2005. Mr. Shapiro has tried over fifty five civil jury trials, and has argued cases before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the California appellate courts resulting in a number of published opinions.

Prior to joining the City, Mr. Shapiro practiced in his own law firm representing the SCUBA diving industry and other maritime clients.  In 2003, the National Law Journal selected one of Mr. Shapiro’s trial verdicts, Bolour v. Santa Barbara Aquatics, as one of the top ten defense verdicts in the country.  He has been Martindale-Hubble AV rated since 2001.

Mr. Shapiro graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelor’s of Science degree, and received his J.D. from the Catholic University of America, in Washington D.C.  Mr. Shapiro currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Police Activities League.

Legal Assistant
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Ms. Stevens has been with City Attorney's Office as a Legal Assistant since May 2001. Previously, she was employed for 15 years both in-house and in private Los Angeles law firms, primarily in civil litigation.  In addition to being a Connecticut native and animal lover, Ms. Stevens has various outside interests such as culinary studies, music, and volunteer work which has included membership in the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps.  Ms. Stevens is the assistant to Daniel Hentschke, Sarah Knecht, and Tava Ostrenger. 

Assistant City Prosecutor
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Mr. Wei joined the City Attorney’s Office in June 2019.  He is the City’s first full-time prosecuting attorney.  Before joining the Office he was a Senior Assistant City Attorney with the Burbank City Attorney’s Office where he worked as a prosecutor and a civil litigator.  Mr. Wei worked prosecuting state misdemeanors and local code offenses in the City of Burbank’s Criminal Prosecution Unit between 2006 and 2018.  He served as the Unit’s supervisor for almost ten of those years.  He has extensive experience working to remediate substandard housing.  He also worked with Burbank’s Mental Health Evaluation Team to address crimes stemming from people suffering from mental illness.  He was an Adjunct Assistant Professor teaching Criminal Law and Remedies at Glendale University College of Law.  Before serving Burbank, Mr. Wei served as a Deputy District Attorney in San Benito County from 2000 to 2006, handling a wide variety of cases ranging from misdemeanors to serious and violent felonies.

Mr. Wei received his law degree from Whittier College School of Law and earned his bachelor degrees in History and Sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.



Last Updated: Oct 14, 2021
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