Mysterious Activity at One of Montecito’s Biggest Properties

••• Are Riley and Susan Bechtel up to something at Rancho San Carlos, the 237-acre Montecito estate at 2500 East Valley Road that they bought for $63.25 million in October 2020? They have cleared many acres’ worth of fruit trees from the upper part (below); they seem to be allowing the citrus grove near East Valley Road to die; and story poles were recently visible to the west of the mansion, although I don’t recall anything coming before MBAR. Anyone recall whether there are special development restrictions on the property?

UPDATE 11/30: The community liaison for the property had this explanation:

The property was purchased by Rancho San Carlos, LLC in October 2020. Since that time, there has been a focus on rehabilitating the land and the trees that make up the producing orchards in addition to making plans to restore the main house designed and built by architect Reginald Johnson.

Some of the citrus trees on the property were dead or dying and had to be removed. All of the trees that are past their producing lives will be removed. The younger more viable trees are producing nicely and the fruit is sold for food. We’ve seen an increase in fruit production at the ranch even with fewer trees. Once the irrigation systems are upgraded, younger, more productive trees will be added to the orchard.

While the owners focus on maintaining the producing orchards and the house restoration, they are getting to know other parts of the land and doing some visioning of how the land can be used as a family estate. Story poles are up at various times in various locations to give a perspective on potential elements of the property. As permits are required, applications will be submitted to the appropriate regulatory agencies.

••• From the Santa Barbara Bowl: “It is with heavy hearts that we announce that Toddy’s Christmas Trees, the annual holiday tree lot, will not return this year. Due to Todd Yuhasz’s passing earlier this year, his family has decided the tree lot will not return this season. Todd was the very heart of the family Xmas tree lot beginning in 1992. He and his family kept the holiday cheerful tradition going for the SB community in the Bowl parking lot for 20 years!”

••• I was pleased to see that the Hermosillo Road exit on the northbound 101 finally got mentioned on an advance sign (in addition to the one at the exit). And from the latest construction update: “Southbound off-ramp at N. Padaro Lane will be closed for three months starting as early as December 4,” and the northbound of-ramp and southbound on-ramp at Olive Mill will now close starting the night of December 5 for seven months and a month and a half, respectively.

••• The Music Academy dropped “of the West” from its name back in June.

••• Nectar Clothing is opening a shop at 623 1/2 State Street (Ortega/Cota). It’s mostly womenswear, with some home/lifestyle stuff. The backstory is nice:

Nectar is owned by Dave & Tricia Kelly. The small chain is based in Southern California with our home offices in Redlands, Ca. We currently have eight locations. The couple originally started a designer denim boutique in Redlands, California, in 2005, as boyfriend and girlfriend entrepreneur team. The first boutique the couple opened was a 600 sq foot tiny little designer denim shop called “denM”. Eventually the economy forced new affordable trends into fashion, and designer brands became less of a focus. The then newly married owners opened the first “Nectar” concept in 2008 based on affordable trends, at a space just two doors down from “denM.” Dave and Tricia are now married with three daughters.

••• Folks who attended a recent charity preview of the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern have said the resort will open in February. (And the restaurant and bar officially opened.)

••• Correction: the rendering I posted of Santa Barbara High School’s forthcoming VADA building was out of date; Edhat has a current one.

••• It’s always nice to see a small business get sold rather than close: Alex Bollag, 24, bought the Golf Klub shop (next to Harry’s Plaza Café) from Tom Noyes and renamed it Golf Max. “The store emphasizes great customer service, a simulator and putting area, custom fittings, re-gripping and club repair. GolfMax sells top performing inventory from brands such as Ping, Titleist, Srixon, Cleveland, Callaway, Mizuno and Taylor-made. From beginner to pro, there is something here for everyone’s game. There is also pickleball inventory for this rapidly growing sport.”


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Well I guess it’s a good thing when billionaires stop wasting water on acres of fruit trees they don’t need and probably aren’t even harvesting


Cant believe someone bought the Golf Klub! What was there to buy? A grumpy old man? Limited hours? Poor customer service? Hopefully, the new owner is more attentive to actual customer needs. The closest golf store otherwise is in Oxnard.