Santa Barbara Neighborhoods
Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County, California. Situated on a south-facing section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara’s climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city has been promoted as the “American Riviera”.
As of the census of 2010, the city had a population of 88,410, a loss of 1,190 from the previous census, making it the second most populous city in the county after Santa Maria while the contiguous urban area, which includes the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria, along with the unincorporated regions of Isla Vista, Montecito, Mission Canyon, Hope Ranch, Summerland, and others, has an approximate population of 220,000. The population of the entire county in 2010 was 423,895.
The Mesa stretches 2.5 miles (4.0 km) from Santa Barbara City College on the east to Arroyo Burro County Beach (or “Hendry’s/The Pit” to locals) on the west. “The Mesa” embodies a beach vibe. The neighborhood has beach access to Mesa Lane Beach, as well as Thousand Steps Beach. This is considered to be a desirable neighborhood due to its proximity to the ocean as well as the college. Residential development began here in the 1920s, but was interrupted by the discovery of the Mesa Oil Field. The field was quickly exhausted, and after the Second World War building of houses resumed, although the last oil tanks and sumps did not disappear until the early 1970s.
Mission Canyon contains the wooded hilly area beginning at the Old Mission and extending along Foothill Road, east into Mission Canyon Road and Las Canoas Road. A popular spot as an entry-point for weekend foothill hiking, it is one of the most rustically beautiful, yet fire-prone areas of Santa Barbara due to heavy natural vegetation.
The Riviera encompasses an ocean-facing hillside and back hillside extending for approximately two miles, with the north side extending from Foothill Road to Sycamore Canyon Road, and the south side from the Santa Barbara Mission to North Salinas Street. The famous ribbon-like Alameda Padre Serra serves as the principal entry point from the Mission and the City of Santa Barbara. Since the past century, it has been known as “the Riviera” due to its resemblance to the Mediterranean coastal towns of France and Italy. The neighborhood has winding streets with intricate stone work terracing built by early 20th-century Italian immigrants. Most of the topography of the Riviera is relatively steep, making it particularly noteworthy for homes with outstanding views of the City of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.
The Westside (“west of State Street”) lies predominantly in the lowlands between State Street and the Mesa, including Highway 101, and also reaches down to Cliff Drive, incorporating Santa Barbara City College.
The Eastside (“east of State Street”) is generally the area east of State to the base of the Riviera, and includes Santa Barbara Junior High School, Santa Barbara High School, and the Santa Barbara Bowl.
The Waterfront comprises roughly commercial and tourist-oriented business structures along Cabrillo Blvd including Stearn’s Wharf, the Santa Barbara Harbor and the breakwater, and extending East toward the Bird Refuge and West along Shoreline Drive above the SBCC campus West.
Lower State Street is, along with the waterfront, the part of town most popular with tourists. It is usually defined as stretching from Anapamu to either the intersection with 101 or Stearns Wharf. It features primarily commercial properties, as well as a thriving nightlife. Lower State Street also serves as the main location for local celebrations and parades such as La Fiesta de Santa Barbara.
Upper State Street is a residential and commercial district that includes numerous professional offices, and much of the medical infrastructure of the city.
San Roque is located northwest of the downtown area and north of Samarkand. It is a good spot for families within the Hope School District. This area is said to be a constant 5 degrees warmer than the coastal areas, due to its greater distance from the ocean than other Santa Barbara neighborhoods, and being separated from the sea by a low range of hills to the south, occupied by the Mesa and Hope Ranch. San Roque is also the most popular spot for Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween.
Samarkand currently has approximately 630 homes on 184 acres (0.74 km2) with a population of about 2000 people. The name Samarkand comes from an Old Persian word meaning “the land of heart’s desire.” It was first applied to a deluxe Persian-style hotel that was converted from a boy’s school in 1920. Samarkand later became identified as its own neighborhood located between Las Positas, State Street, De La Vina, Oak Park and the Freeway. Earle Ovington built the first home here in 1920 at 3030 Samarkand Drive. As a pilot, Ovington established the Casa Loma Air Field with a 1,500-foot (460 m) runway that was used by legendary pilots, Lindbergh and Earheart.
Hope Ranch is an unincorporated suburb of Santa Barbara, west of downtown. As of the 2000 census, the area had an approximate population of 2,200. The neighborhood occupies a hilly area immediately adjacent to the coast, with the highest elevation being 691 feet (211 m). Hope Ranch is one of the wealthiest areas in California; the median priced home was $2.61 million in 2006.
Noleta is an informal name for the unincorporated suburban area west of Santa Barbara. It is bounded on the east by Santa Barbara and Hope Ranch, on the west by Goleta, on the north by the Santa Ynez Mountains and on the south by the Pacific Ocean, and largely includes the zip codes 93105, 93110, and 93111. Approximately 30,000 people live in the area. The area is called Noleta because of its history of voting “no” on incorporation with the City of Goleta (i.e., “no” to “Goleta”), and as a pun on the more famous neighborhood “North of Little Italy” in New York City. Residents have the address of Santa Barbara.
Goleta is an incorporated city located next to Noleta.
Montecito is an unincorporated census-designated place to the east of Santa Barbara. Many celebrities and wealthy business people live in this neighborhood.