Should Montecito’s Upper Village Ban Chain Stores?

••• Changes to the entrance to the Mission are on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Historic Landmarks Commission: “Proposal to construct an ADA and building code compliant access ramp to the main doors.” The agenda says that two options will be presented, but I think only one is included in the materials submitted in advance.

••• De La Guerra Plaza is also on the HLC’s agenda: “This meeting will be for the Commission to hear a more thorough presentation on the project design features and why the proposed design is the way it is.” I think this rendering is new.

••• Kickball has returned to Elings Park, but in an informal way: “10 weeks of free, co-ed, pickup games starting Friday, June 16 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Softball Field 1. Open for ages 18 and older, the games have no set teams and no umpires. Interested players simply come to the field with a photo ID and sign a waiver form.” If it’s popular, the park will consider a more organized program.

••• The Montecito Association is looking into an ordinance limiting “formula retail” in the Upper Village: “Concerns with Restoration Hardware moving have led to conversations with Supervisor [Das] Williams, who expressed interested in adopting such an ordinance. Grandfathered banks and gas stations would remain, of course. The intent is to prevent chain businesses that displace local businesses.” Hmm. I like small, independent shops as much as the next person—when they’re good, anyway—but part of me thinks the market should decide. And no one complained when Jenni Kayne (22 stores nationwide) opened either of her two shops in the Upper Village, so perhaps only certain chains are objectionable…?

••• Songwriter Jimmy Webb plays the Lobero Theatre on July 13, followed by Graham Nash on July 15 and 16.

••• The Moving Mountains Resale Shoppe has either opened or is coming soon—the sign in the window sends mixed signals—on E. Haley (State/Anacapa). I stopped by to check it out, but its hours are Friday through Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.


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Back in the 90’s state street was mostly locally owned businesses. Bookstores, boutiques, restaurants. The “market” decided to push those businesses out in favor of American Eagle, Marshall’s, Vans, etc. This not only killed the soul of state, but ultimately lead to where we are now, a bunch of post-corporate-bankruptcy vacant storefronts. I support the upper village ban

ES Corchero

Remember the outrage over Honor Bar (Houston’s) — oddly, it seems to be well-received and part of the community now. For a company that offers two private jets and a yacht to charter, RH on State Street makes no sense. The Old Firehouse feels especially modest for the company, but the demographic of 2023 Montecito feels absolutely spot on. I wonder how much this is a push against ‘chains’ versus a fear property owners will sell out to Caruso?

Victoria Valente

Small, locally owned businesses might be preferred (I prefer how they look), but in general, they can’t survive. I love the consignment shops that still exist (although I can’t find anything I want to buy). Other than that, the last ones standing seem to be the chain stores: Vans, Yogurtland, Tilly’s, GAP, Old Navy, Marshall’s, 99 Cent Store, Athleta, etc. Remember when Target was shot down? I imagine that it would still be in business if it had been allowed. No empty store front there. I think that the Aloha Fun Center would have been popular too. I wish that the City had been able to work out a solution regarding the extra bathrooms that were required. Their failure to keep an open mind and think outside the box has definitely contributed to Downtown blight. Snobbery doesn’t help either.


It’s so very interesting that the Montecito Association would focus on such a topic. Rental rates dictate the success of a small business more than a community association ever will. I think the MA should do some research and see for themselves, that an entity like Restoration Hardware is the only type of “formula retail” that can afford the old firehouse. Or, as Siteline mentioned Jenni Kayne; a large retailer that can afford their space. Mom and pop are a thing of the past in Montecito due to rental rates— Not because they’re being pushed out by chain retailers that can afford it. A perfect example of this would be the Country Mart.


Every community is entitled to pushing its self interest. I don’t see hypocrisy if someone in Montecito supported development somewhere else but preferred not to see it locally — I just see NIMBY philosophy, which isn’t a bad thing, we all have a right to it. In this example, if us locals in Montecito think there’s better quality of life with no chains and don’t mind the less development and vibrancy as a result, that’s fine. State Street is the most ordinary place in the county — super boring with all the chains. Chains will just make Montecito less unique. In Tokyo, some restaurants don’t take reservations for foreigners, in the interest of giving their local customers what they way. I’m not going to cry about it, just what the locals express to their restaurant owners of what will keep them coming back.


The current state of the upper village retail scene is pretty sad. The majority of the residents shop through big box stores and online so this idea that we’d like to keep it local seems hypocritical. If you’re going to ban chain stores, then ban the Amazon trucks that deliver all our purchases.


The idea of banning chain stores seems a bit silly and hypocritical given that there’s probably a sizable number of Montecito residents who have gained wealth from having investment in some form of “chain” or who regularly buy from chain stores. Let’s not forget that there are numerous luxury chain stores. And the commenter who pointed out rent as the primary issue is 100% correct.


The upper village shopping center (@ Tecolote Bookstore) is a privately owned property. The mix of offerings is up to the long-time owner (a wonderful local family). The buildings are not fancy but the are well kept and clean. The product offerings are quality, locally owned, personal and unique. This is local shopping that is a pleasure at every turn.


I’m wondering if the word chain denotes places like Marshall’s and Target not Nordstrom’s (rip) and high end stores. SB has always had “chains” when I lived here in college there was Joseph Magnin’s and I. Magnin’s on State plus I think a Robinsons and a Barnes and Nobles was on State st for years. We’ve had big stores combined with smaller stores for decades and the Pierre LaFond empire has grown and flourished since the 1970’s. Things change and cities are going through big changes now. I’m just hoping the World Market (another chain!) hangs on and doesn’t close down. Probably don’t need another brewpub downtown…

Sam Tababa

Are they going to remove the gas station, national real estate brokers, banks, title company and the hardware store too?

I suppose we should require all Montecito residents to only wear bespoke clothing and drive custom made automobiles too? No brands for you!


A peanut butter approach to ban all chains makes no sense at all… especially since there have been and there are currently several chains already in the center. Make decisions one by one to curate the space the entire community wants… the current state isnt working. A place like RH lifts all boats and local owners will thrive.

Jeff Harding

Sure, pass a law. That solves nothing. Freeze it in time and see how that works out. The market (property owners, businesses, and consumers) is alway better than politicians in determining how things ought to be run. To compare the Upper Village to State Street is not apples to apples. State St. is not a mess because of chains. If Mr. Borgatello wants to rent to chains because they will attract more customers, that’s his decision on how to run his property–not mine, not Das’s. As Mark Twain said: “‘Taint yours and it ‘taint mine.” Leave it alone.