A Close-Up Look at TV Hill

I started my summiting of TV Hill by parking on Coronel Street, across from McKinley Elementary School. A good omen: it was a Saturday, so parking wasn’t an issue. I imagine that the signs are directed at students from SBCC, across Cliff Drive, and not the wee scholars of McKinley.

I had never noticed the elementary school before; built in 1932, it’s rather handsome—not unlike young William McKinley himself.

From the parking lot, you can see 121 Via Del Cielo, which recently sold for $8 million. More on that property when I reach it.

This walk comprises three microneighborhoods, the first of which is the residential area across from McKinley. While it’s mostly houses, there are some apartments, which I assume are mainly inhabited by SBCC students. The mishmash of parked cars certainly feels college student–y (and reminiscent of how real estate agents park at a brokers’ open) while the “police not welcome” sticker has a whiff of twenty-something outrage.

I’m always intrigued when I see on Google Maps what looks like a pedestrian path, but the robots are wrong about where Weldon Road meets Arroyo Avenue; it’s a full-fledged road. Meanwhile, the reasoning behind the Weldon Road loop is a mystery to me. And heading up Arroyo Avenue, I fell hard for the 1910 farmhouse at 958 Weldon Road.

As with every Walk With Me post, there has to be an old car worth noting. This truck would’ve paired nicely with that farmhouse.

And there’s usually some nature, too. Have you ever noticed how agave bloom stalks resemble giant asparagus spears?

The housing stock in this part of town was a surprise and a delight. I was expecting more Mesa-type houses, but these were older and more varied. Even if you don’t want to schlep all the way up TV Hill, I’d recommend a (weekend) jaunt around Weldon Road, Coronel Road, Isleta Avenue, Arroyo Avenue, and the eastern end of Miramonte Drive. That’s another way of admitting that I didn’t make any effort to keep track of the following houses’ exact locations.

We don’t see enough copper trim.

My favorite, far and way, was 821 Corondel, even though that cinder-block wall is an abomination. On Redfin, there are a couple photos from 2004, when the 1872 house sold for $1.395 million.

This one made me wonder whether the neighbors were tetchy about the bold color choice—but they don’t really have room to talk.

Both this micro neighborhood and the next one—the apex of TV Hill—had a lot of yardifacts.

Those are two paintings displayed to the right of the driveway.

And bright objects at the foot of a driveway always make me think—I should point out that I do not know these people—that someone put it there so he can tell which house is his after a long night.

The best mailbox was this shapely corrugated-metal one. And I texted a photo of the crow one to my husband, because he’s waging a war against the crows that have taken up residence around our property. At dawn, they park outside our bedroom window and shriek. Adam has tried everything: recordings of hawk calls, slingshots, dead-crow decoys, and a laser pointer, which works pretty well if the sun hasn’t come all the way up.

Good thing he didn’t join me on this walk.

Heading up Miramonte Drive, the walking turns perilous—there’s no shoulder, and you can’t see whether anyone is coming toward you or from behind.

Moreover, you’re at risk of standing in the middle of the road to take photos of the view.

Microneighborhood number two starts with the Honda Valley Park, which I did not explore on this journey because I already had enough on my plate and one day I plan on investigating every park in town. (Take note, Pulitzer committee.) I did pause for a moment to admire the view and two houses—the contemporary one across the way on Harbor Hills Lane and the one further up Miramonte with the lovely backyard overlooking the park.

The houses at the top of TV Hill are far larger than the ones below.

And then there were the driveway teases….

Conventional wisdom dictates that I wouldn’t like this next one, and that I’d even make a snarky joke about it. But I think I love it—though it worries me to say that I never felt this way….

Jutting off of Miramonte, near the top of the hill, is Via Del Cielo. In Montecito, the old stone wall on one side of the entrance to the street would almost certainly be the remnant of an old estate. Could that have once been the case up here? (The other side had either been torn down or was entirely obscured by foliage.) The street is short but has phenomenal views at the cul-de-sac, which certainly looks like a sweet, if risky, place to do some doughnuts.

Lo and behold, 121 Via del Cielo. I say this a lot, but I sincerely hope we get a chance to see what the new owner does with it.

Everyone knows that the TV studio is atop TV Hill. But there’s also the Dreier Building next door.

What’s the Dreier Building, you ask? This is from an interesting 2008 Wall Street Journal article about how many executives of home-building and financial-services firms made extraordinary amounts of money in the years directly preceding the housing crisis.

R. Chad Dreier, 61, chairman and chief executive of Ryland Group Inc.,a Calabasas, Calif., home builder, made $181 million over the five-year period. Specializing in mid-range homes, Ryland did well in the boom, entering into hot markets, such as Las Vegas and Ft. Myers, Fla. Most of its buyers financed homes through Ryland’s in-house mortgage unit, some through controversial interest-only mortgages. […]

Next door to his 4,900-square-foot hilltop house in Santa Barbara, Calif., a Dreier private company owns an office building that houses Mr. Dreier’s collection of baseball cards, sports memorabilia, gems, minerals and other items.

Perhaps he’s worried about the revolution, because there are a lot of signs like these.

At what point is the sign worse than the act?

Talk about yardifacts! And that’s a world-class parking lot.

Microneighborhood number three, on the west side of TV Hill, is home to the Santa Barbara Highlands condo complex. It’s huge, with “270 one- and two-bedroom Mediterranean-style townhomes,” according to the HOA website, which must be referring to a part of the Mediterranean I have yet to visit.

Some of the units’ outdoor areas are exposed to the street. I’m not sure how relaxed I’d feel napping in that hammock.

One large plus, however, is the access to Honda Valley Park. Many units look out over the park, which seems ideal.

Your dog would totally agree.

There clearly isn’t enough parking, despite the mod carports, because every time I’ve driven on Miramonte Drive, I’ve noticed the many cars in covers.

The entrance to VNA Health’s Serenity House, which provides hospice care, is embedded within the complex. I have to imagine its existence was a condition of allowing the mammoth condo development.

If I were in charge, I’d work on the sidewalk situation.

And this is clearly unacceptable.

Depending on how you look at it, Carrillo Street marks the end of the walk or the midway point, since I had to walk all the way back over the hill.

But it makes for a bummer of a finale. Instead, here are a bunch of quirky highlights—like an artsy curved fence.

And a fence that misses the point.

Perhaps it’s related to this gate…?

The architectural equivalent of double-bagging.

Proof that roof repairs really aren’t a DIY kind of thing.

Or maybe they are. :)

P.S. If only every lost sign got updated with good news….


Walk With Me…
A Stroll in the Summerland Countryside
The Side Streets and Alleyways of Upper Oak Park
Quintessential Montecito at Butterfly Beach
Mixing Business and Pleasure in East Beach
It’s Only Milpas Street (But I Like It)
An Aimless Wander Through Hidden Valley
Voyage to the Heart of the San Roque Spider Web
Where the Streets Have Full Names
Once Upon a Time in the Hedgerow…
On the Golden Slope of Eucalyptus Hill
The Past Is Still Present in Old Town Goleta
The Haley Corridor Is Keeping It Real
The Unvarnished Appeal of Yankee Farm
Where Montecito Gets Down to Business
The Small Pleasures of Bungalow Haven
The Small-Town Charms of Samarkand
Climbing the Back of Eucalyptus Hill
Admiring the Backsides of Beachfront Houses on Padaro Lane
Social Distancing Made Easy at UCSB
In the Heart of the Golden Quadrangle
Is There a Better Neighborhood for a Stroll Than West Beach?
Up, Down, and All Around Montecito’s Pepper Hill
E. Canon Perdido, One of Downtown’s Best Strolling Streets
Montecito’s Prestigious Picacho Lane
Whitney Avenue in Summerland
School House Road and Camphor Place


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Nice Partridge Family reference in your TV Hill walk. I’m not sure how I should feel about the fact that I recognized it…

Ruma Costello

I read your article on TV Hill with interest as I worked at 800 Miramonte Drive back in the late 70’s – early 80’s when it was occupied by the Carrow’s restaurant main offices and Manchester Insurance (where I worked). Back then, our building & KEYT TV were the only buildings on the hill! I’ll have to drive up there on my next visit to SB!