29 Things You Need To Know About Santa Barbara Before You Move There
Here’s our scoop on this classic California beach town, including ice cream that’s basically heaven in a cup.
by Rebecca Podesta
By Harry Kolb
Printed in Private Air Magazine March 2013
Grand estates, stunning ocean and mountain views, and a mild sunny climate all come together to make this Pacific coastal community irresistible. Historic elegance, lush countryside, and spectacular ocean vistas contribute to the enormous appeal of Montecito, California real estate.
Montecito is a small community 90 miles up the coast from Los Angeles, framed by coastal mountains and broad, white beaches. White Mediterranean homes with red tile roofs, bougainvillea covered stone walls, wrought-iron gates, palm lined drives, courtyard cafes, collectable cars and smart boutiques, all mixed with a casual but refined lifestyle, characterize Montecito.
This is the perfect place to raise a family, where the weather is ideal, the air clean and the schools, beaches and parks are healthy, enjoyable environments – the ideal retirement spot, a place rich with leisure and recreational pursuits.
Most new residents are first introduced to our community while on holiday, as was the case many years ago when wealthy Eastern families discovered Montecito in the early 1900‚Äôs. Huge estates were created as wintering spots, and by the 1920‚Äôs there were more millionaires per acre in Montecito than anywhere else in our country. Today these fine homes are being renovated with the care they deserve, and some of our most charming small homes started their lives at the turn of the century as modest staff cottages to these estates.
Celebrities, politicians, and giants of industry have turned to this quiet coastal community as a getaway for decades. Charlie Chaplin built the Montecito Inn in 1927, and the famous San Ysidro Ranch served host to a guest list included such prestigious visitors as President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, Laurence Olivier, and Winston Churchill. Today‚Äôs celebrity Montecito real estate owners include a long list of notables in the entertainment, business and political world. They choose Montecito, of course, for its climate and rewarding lifestyle, but they continue to return because ours is one of the few communities where they can enjoy a ‚Äėnormal‚Äô life without the concern and disturbance of fan recognition. Here they tend to be treated as just one of the neighbors.
Our Montecito real estate is more than enchanting: the magnetism of this quiet coastal community is absolutely intoxicating. Like an island where troubles and worries are left on the mainland, Montecito lulls its inhabitants into a peaceful state of mind, which translates into being purely focused on enjoying some of life‚Äôs genuine pleasures: ocean breezes, warm sunshine, good food, and fine wine.
Gracious, Luxurious Living
Admirers of Montecito real estate may mistake this lush, green enclave with its charming winding roadways canopied with overhanging oaks trees for a European countryside. But Montecito as a separate city doesn‚Äôt actually exist. The residents have repeatedly rejected incorporation as a city but have maintained their controlling community zoning ordinances as a separate element within the larger County of Santa Barbara and oversee the enforcement of these ordinances through the all-volunteer Montecito Association. In fact, the Montecito community was the first in California to record their own land use ordinance in order to preserve the semi-rural qualities of this charming community. And these qualities continue today to be the biggest reason new arrivals are so strongly drawn to our area.
Montecito, California real estate includes an impressive array of estates, many of which were inspired by the stately homes of the south of France, Spain, and Italy ‚Äď where the similar climate is due to our sharing one of the few east-west shorelines in a temperate latitude. With a small population of around 3,000 families sharing a limited 9 square mile area, we enjoy a wide array of homes. Smaller cottages and condominiums are usually available in the $1-$2 million price range. Family homes are available in the $3-$7 million range and can offer well landscaped gardens, guest cottages, ocean views, pools and tennis courts. From the $8-$15 million price range a buyer can find some wonderful estate properties offering all the expected amenities and set on sizable, manicured gardens where many of these homes include historic provenance and the revered work of a noted architect. Above the $15 million level and reaching up to the $100 million level, there are a few truly world-class estates offering the best the world has to offer.
Montecito is really a neighborhood of a different sort: a few square miles dotted by some of the most lavish estates in the world, a collection of stylish boutiques and welcoming cafes, the world famous Ganna Walska Lotusland private gardens, and a few hotels, one of which is the famed Santa Barbara Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel and another the romantic San Ysidro Ranch affiliated with Relais & Chateaux.
Having visited Montecito since the 1960‚Äôs as a teenager with my family from St. Louis and having moved here permanently in 1979, I can truly say that I know of no better place in this country to enjoy an active life and raise a family. Over the past thirty years I‚Äôve had the opportunity of serving on a number of community boards including the Casa del Herrero, Ganna Walska Lotusland, The Montecito Association and the George Washington Smith Society. Having fallen in love with our lifestyle and the significant architecture of our notable homes, I began selling real estate in order to help others discover the special character of this wonderful community. As a specialist in representing the finer homes in our area, I‚Äôd be happy to assist you in finding your place in this very special part of ‚ÄúThe American Riviera.‚ÄĚ Harry Kolb is the Senior Estate Agent with Sotheby‚Äôs International Realty, 1106 Coast Village Road, Montecito, California, 93108, and can be reached at (805) 969-0248 or by e-mail at Harry@HarryKolb.com.