Real Estate Prices are No Surprise

If anyone has ever driven across the country or even driven outside Santa Barbara County, it will be quickly discovered why our real estate prices are so high. Santa Barbara County, and South County in particular, is unfriendly developer territory.

In virtually every other part of the country, housing tracts appear like crocuses in springtime, seemingly overnight – and by the thousands. Pre-made villages sprout up out of agricultural/ranch land and within a year’s time, thousands of homes replace once beautiful meadows, valleys, grazing land and wheat fields. Within that same time frame, commercial areas connected to these startup divisions are built. Chili’s, Starbucks, Home Depot, Staples, Borders, Bed, Bath and the Universe Beyond – the usual suspects – and many other typical commercial residents move in. Suddenly what was once views of lands and vistas, places to contemplate the clouds and the stars, is instead a fully functional area populated by thousands of newfound residents looking for a parking space close enough so they don’t have to walk too far.

I attended Montana State University in the beautiful and fully preserved mountain town of Bozeman, Montana for two years. In that short span of time, I watched as out-of-town developers who had, apparently, recently “discovered” it, overhauled the town. With its historic downtown and its proximity to rivers, mountains, and wildlife, Bozeman had a sense of community like that of Montecito. Within two years, however, thousands of homes were put up. Every single retail restaurant and department store chain imaginable moved in and Bozeman changed.

This will not happen to Montecito or, to a lesser degree, Santa Barbara and, at least from this point of view, that is a good thing. It is also a good thing for those who’ve purchased or held on here. In 2006, while many other places in the U.S. saw falling real estate prices, Montecito real estate experienced continued price growth. The Median price for a home in Montecito this time last year was $2.37 million. As of first quarter 2007, the median price was $2.8 million, an 18.1% jump over last year.

Thankfully, Montecito protected itself by virtue of its Community Plan – yes, the same one legislators in Sacramento (and some politicians and developers right here in River City) seek to overhaul and/or destroy completely. Community plans and other protective organizations make it very difficult for those crocuses to bloom.

No economic market is guaranteed, but surely, buying and holding in Montecito has proven to be a wise investment indeed. Between the chaparral-laden mountains and the kelp-clogged ocean, the lack of developable land and strong community plan, it’s likely Montecito and Santa Barbara, Goleta, Summerland, and Carpinteria will remain desirable. The greatest threat to that rosy scenario is the relentless push by State housing “advocates” for more homes and bigger roads, when we’ve already got more than we’ll ever need.

A Little Madness For The Month Of May

Montecito prepares for another May Madness as the Music Academy of the West gathers treasures from all over, including from many Montecito estates, for the year’s largest estate sale. Remember to look for diamond-in-the-rough treasures – art, antiques, furniture, silver, crystal, books, linens, rugs, sporting goods, electronics and clothing. This event always promises to be a good time and if you are new to Montecito, surely stop by to tour the Music Academy grounds and don’t miss the Ukulele Lulus, who also performed last year. These lovely ladies bring musical joy to the madness.

The 32nd annual May Madness Sale takes place on May 5, beginning at 9 am with all sales final at 3 pm. The estate sale will be held throughout the campus of the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road.

The Andy Granatelli Museum

It’s not every day you can say you’ve had a museum named after you. Montecito resident Andy Granatelli will meet in Auburn, Indiana along with other racing greats, past and present, to celebrate his achievements in the automotive industry, as plans for a new museum in his honor are unveiled.

The Mr. Indy 500 Gala will, according to the event’s press release, “celebrate the event and serve as a fundraiser for the facility, which will spotlight Granatelli’s storied career, from his innovations in racing to his involvement with STP and his invention of the fast-service oil change business.”

The “Andy Granatelli Hall of Fame Museum” will be located adjacent to Interstate 69, 10 minutes north of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The event begins with a 90-minute reception, including an autograph session with racing drivers.

For ticket information about the event contact Teresa M. Melcher at the Dean V. Kruse Foundation at 1-260-927-9144 ext 212 or