The Heart of Montecito Is in Coast Village

On a rainy night not long after the Lark first opened, I went to have dinner at the bar while my husband, Adam, was on a business trip. A woman in a hoodie, with the hood up, sat next to me. She ordered a whiskey—announcing that she had already had two at home “because of the weather”—along with a small popcorn “because I’m on a juice cleanse.” Inevitably, she initiated a conversation, but we were interrupted by her phone. She talked to the caller for a minute, then said, “Why don’t you park and join me at the Lark! I’m sitting here at the bar with a new friend. Park and come in! I’ll cancel my Uber!” Long pause. “Oh, you are my Uber! I’ll be right out!” When she returned, she asked what I was doing next, and I said I was going home because I was still on Eastern time, having recently arrived from New York.

“That’s what I always say when I’m fucking bored and want to leave,” she replied. “‘Sorry, but I’m on Eastern time!”

Anyway, she lived on Hermosillo Road or Butterfly Lane, and whenever I’m in that neck of the woods I think of her. Fondly!

I parked outside the Starbucks on Coast Village Road and headed up Hermosillo. While I’ve often used the street as a shortcut, I never thought much of it one way or the other. On this walk, I was enchanted by many of the houses—the architectural variety and the sheer cuteness.

Even the Little Free Library was adorable; I think the top of the chimney might actually be copper. And inside, someone had left a weather report back in March (possibly before realizing that’s what the weather here is like most days).

The entire neighborhood has marvelous trees, and the smell of eucalyptus is everywhere. When I worry about the drought, which is often, I fear for the trees, which surely rely on irrigation intended for other plants.

And while the area is not as hedgy as the Hedgerow, it’s close. I’m still charmed by hedges trained into arches, not to mention anytime something—a gate, a mailbox, a street sign—is carved into one.

I’ve driven by Palm Tree Lane, a not-a-thru-street off Hot Springs, countless times, but I had never set foot nor tire on it. The highlight was coming across a like-minded collector of natural detritus. I recently picked up a beautiful piece of date palm (?) and installed it on our dinner table. Decorating my car never had even occurred to me!

Onward to Butterfly Lane…. I never think of Coast Village as hilly till I walk it. Of course, the street names—Summit, High, Mesa—are a clue.

I really dig the new house at 137 Butterfly Lane. Ferguson-Ettinger Architects posted a shot of the backyard and promised more, but I don’t see any on its website yet.

Coast Village has more of a high-low spectrum than any other part of Montecito, and nowhere more visibly than on Butterfly Lane. For all the media chatter about how Montecito is an enclave of royals and celebrities, you’ll also see a tent garage and an outdoor fridge.

I’m not sure I understand the point of this fence fragment—it blocks a little gully, but you could walk right around it—or a gate that can be seen though, and I say that as someone who has such a gate. People often stand and stare at our house as if we don’t see them.

Someone’s lawn got scalped.

As ever, when I walk, I tend to have thoughts. For instance, I wondered whether there are templates online for political signs—figuring there must be, because they all tend to look the same. (Nothing against Susan Salcido, for whom I’ll absolutely be voting because her opponent is small-minded and unqualified.) Anyway, there are indeed templates.

Another thought: Gaslights are beautiful but are they justifiable in this day and age? Seriously, I have no idea.

Another thought: these signs are not very effective.

Speaking of mailboxes….

The west side of Coast Village is laid out like a ribcage. On the northern rib, Mesa Road, I loved how the house below is offset from the street. But I was mystified by the parking block in the neighbor’s hedge.

Summit Road is my favorite of the ribcage streets. More garages should have a climbing plant above the doors.

Many Summit Road properties have changed hands in recent years. Respectively: 1188 Summit, a 1917 Winsor Soule house ($9.175 million); 1177 Summit, with its “yoga tower” ($3.17 million); 1167 Summit, also with a tower that I had fantasies of activating with some sort of James Turrell–esque light show ($5.5 million, and probably worth $10 million now); and 1166 Summit ($6.23 million, also probably worth eight figures).

1151 Summit is a precious Provençal house by Sorrell Design. I bet the owner regularly receives solicitations from real estate agents dying to list it.

Some houses just seem to have been born in the wrong era.

On the other hand, at least you can see it.

Onward to High Road, one below Summit: 1) I swear it wasn’t me who took out that kid and his Schnauzer; 2) red dragons symbolize good fortune in Chinese culture; and 3) is that half-path for taking out the garbage?

The southernmost ribcage road is Oriole Road, and given the proximity to commercial Coast Village Road, I would’ve assumed the houses would be smaller. But the first two pictured below are rather impressive. The third one, meanwhile, tickles me right in the sweet spot. And the fourth is rather Cubist.

Oriole is also the site of this sweet bamboo fence (or gate?) and one of the best no-parking signs ever. Could that woman at the Lark have actually lived on Oriole?

At the risk of overdoing the anatomical metaphors, Middle Road is the neighborhood’s backbone, with the most notable houses. The splendid 280 Middle Road, a.k.a. Clavelitos (“carnations”), was architect Lutah Mafia Riggs’s own home. It was listed for $6.75 million in February 2021 and sold fast for $7.2 million. Check out those gatepost finials.

165 Middle Road, a.k.a. Croydon, is a 1929 mansion that reminded me of the board game Clue. It sold in August 2020 for $6.375 million—and the seller had paid $8.2 million in 2016. (That might hurt more than getting brained in the library with a candlestick.) The second photo is of the property’s back gate, on Oriole Road. Google Maps says the non-street between the front and back gates is “Formosa Drive.” I’m sure someone out there knows why…?

240 Middle Road, a.k.a. El Hogar (“the home”), was architect George Washington Smith’s first house, and it’s a beaut, too. In fact, it was recently featured in Santa Barbara magazine. Every time we drive down Middle Road, Adam remarks that he can’t believe someone parks a Bentley on the street.

I’m pretty sure the same issue of Santa Barbara magazine also showcased 274 Middle Road. I like the yin-yang effect of it and 277 Middle Road, across the street.

277 Middle Road, meanwhile, turns its back to the street to dramatic effect.

215 Middle Road was one of the more modest houses on the street, but it got bought for $3.75 million in September 2021 (from someone who flipped it), and it sure looks like it’s going to get flipped again. I loved how the roofers were having their lunch break on the roof.

As always, envy walked beside me now and again: look at that weather vane! And that carport!

At first glance, I was sure this was a two-stall outhouse (but those are windows, not doors)…

And shouldn’t all confined spaces come with a warning?

We’re almost done, I promise. Moving on to the east side of Coast Village, I walked up Oak Road. The first house below is super pretty—and I can’t say enough about the (David Shelton?) address marker shaped like a sprouting acorn. Across the street, there are two Hardt Homes projects next door to each other—one is almost done, and the second will presumably enter the demolition phase soon.

Envy returned: I want a ninja course in my yard.

Switching to Mesa Road, I wouldn’t mind a broccoflower tree, either.

Even though I know why “USA” gets painted on pavement, I swear that when I saw this, I thought someone was saying that America is destined for the toilet, with a downward arrow as emphasis.

Cool lettering on Olive Mill Lane, although maybe that could be mistaken for a two? I resisted the urge to tell the owner of a nearby house that people are allowed to park on the roadside in Santa Barbara County.

Nearby is a relatively restrained Jeff Shelton house, 145 Olive Mill Lane, that sold for $3.799 million in April 2021.

Not unlike Palm Tree Lane at the start of this post, Eleven Oaks Lane is a not-a-thru-street off Olive Mill Road. I poked in a bit and then decided to obey the “no trespassing” sign, mainly because the street didn’t look all that interesting—and I was much more enticed by the cut-through to the CVS parking lot. Who among us doesn’t love a pedestrian cut-through?

The reward for all that walking: a kids’ scoop of Biscoff ice cream at Rori’s—which almost hit the ground because I was too busy photographing it.


Walk With Me…
A Close-Up Look at TV Hill
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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Maybe the homeowner didn’t want you to park there bc you take pictures of people’s homes, their addresses, cars, yards, etc. and judge them while posting it online. Families live in these homes and they deserve privacy. Get a life.


Wow, James, way to be a hater!
Your comment made me think of John Feinstein’s book, “A good walk spoiled”.
I’d bet you could get the price of your free subscription to the blog refunded if you ask nicely!


While I agree with James’ notion of privacy, I completely admire the author’swillingness to just go out, enjoy yourself and share it with us. The wholeheartedness of it all is refreshing even if I don’t agree or care in some instances… I would say this author, with all her personal judgements, does very much have a life!

ES Corchero

I find these neighborhood walk-throughs absolutely charming and enjoyable. There is nothing being captured in photographs that anyone cannot see for themselves. Until the writer starts lounging in stranger’s pools or borrowing some sugar for tea out of your cupboard, I completely fail to see how this is any sort of invasion of anyone’s privacy. If privacy is what you seek, I’d advise you start watering your own hedge and pricing gates, but one of the things that makes Santa Barbara and its surrounding neighborhoods so charming is there is still a glimmer of a community we all care about and can nurture. That’s all I get from these wonderful posts, so James… do what you need to do, but I like knowing my neighbors and the people within — and yes, even you, James. I promise most of us are very friendly.

Dan O.

Right, we can all walk by and see these but the difference is I don’t post the photos. Seeing is one thing, posting online is another. Plus, someone on Edhat did this years ago, walked every street in town and took a few photos.