What’s Next for the Ortega Park Murals

••• From the city’s Parks & Recreation Department: “The City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department will present the Ortega Park Mural Evaluation Report to the Historic Landmarks Commission on February 3. This evaluation considers the significance of the murals and the best practices for their preservation, relocation, or reproduction.” If I lived nearby, I’d be so excited about the rebirth of that park, with or without the murals. Above: a rendering that presumably shows one possible way to incorporate the murals elsewhere on the premises.

••• I recently moved within earshot of the bells at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church at East Valley Road and Hot Springs, and as a longtime atheist, I couldn’t figure out why the bells were being rung when they were being rung. So I asked….

We ring our bells Monday through Saturday morning at 7:45 a.m. (our Mass time) as a ‘call to come worship.’ On Saturday, the bells also ring at 4:30 p.m. for our Vigil service and then on Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., and noon (our weekend Mass times) again as a ‘call to worship.’

In addition, we ring the bells during the week at noon and 6 p.m. to remind our congregation and others to stop and pray the Angelus, a prayer of Mary’s answer to God to be the mother of Jesus.

••• The Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced the winner of its American Riviera Award (“established to recognize actors who have made a significant contribution to American Cinema”): Delroy Lindo, who received raves for his performance in Da 5 Bloods. This is the part where I remind you that the SBIFF hands out awards to drum up star power and sell tickets to the related appearances, while the actors participate because they believe they’re in contention for an Oscar—and Santa Barbara has a lot of Academy voters living here.

••• The city says that “residential street sweeping and all associated parking enforcement will resume on Tuesday, February 16.”

••• From the Channel Islands National Park: “All Channel Islands National Park campgrounds, except Scorpion Canyon campground, are reopen for reservations as of Friday, January 29. The park’s transportation concessioner, Island Packers, will resume boat service to the islands on this date as well. All park visitor centers will remain closed until further notice.” The islands are a fantastic way to feel like you’re somewhere farther away, and Anacapa and Santa Cruz (below) are the islands that make sense for a day trip.

••• In a recent mailing, powerhouse real estate agent Cristal Clarke included a helpful recap of how and why the market went gangbusters last year:

January – Mid-March
Continuing on from a robust end to 2019, the local real estate communities continued to move forward in the first quarter of 2020, with moderate sales activity and moderate gains in average and median sale prices.

Mid-March – April
As Covid-19 started to become a mainstream concern both across the US and locally, many families started to look for alternate housing options away from urban living environments as lock downs took on a more serious nature. Our local communities were faring well in early medical data numbers. Consequently, there was a large influx of renters from Northern and Southern California; especially Los Angeles and the Bay Area, seeking a safe haven for their families until a clearer picture was formed regarding how “normal living” would resume.

May – July
This was truly the turning point in real estate for our local communities in 2020. As it became clear Covid-19 was not going away in the near future, those families that had previously sought lease options started to focus their attention on a more permanent living situation and entered the local real estate marketplace as buyers. This coincided with an influx of buyer’s who had previously decided to take the “wait and see” attitude in regard to relocating, but who now had committed to seek sanctuary elsewhere.

Add into the mix that it became apparent no one would be travelling to Europe for family vacations, or for that matter anywhere internationally in the summer of 2020. Therefore, you had an additional influx of US consumers looking for a place to rent for their summer vacations on top of those people who regularly visit Montecito and Santa Barbara during the summer months.

As the rental market was already over committed, many of these consumers turned to the purchase market as an investment in vacation homes for short-term use for their families and long-term investment options, further increasing the demand on an already stressed marketplace with dwindling inventory.

Lastly, and most importantly, by late July many people had figured out that Covid-19 was going to be here for quite some time. This started the urban flight movement, and, I believe, a demographic shift in how people viewed their living environments. Gone were the days of being tied to the office and the requirement to be in close proximity to one’s workplace. This was instead replaced by people’s sense of family, a need to reconnect, to feel a sense of community, to have space and room to breathe, and most importantly to live in a safe environment with excellent schools and community services. What better place than our local communities?

August – December
The culmination of all of these factors, in addition to the normal activity seen in our local real estate markets from local residents moving up and down the real estate ladder, resulted in the perfect storm for real estate sales in the second half of 2020. Not only have we seen extraordinary activity in the luxury market, with numbers never before seen here in terms of sales prices attained, but this has also spread throughout the whole spectrum of price ranges. I’m sure many of you have heard numerous stories of friends and neighbors who placed their property on the market, only to be inundated with multiple offers; in many cases over the listed price for the home. Certainly, I have experienced that on many of the properties I have represented for clients since this strategy started to emerge as early as late last year.

For many years, the number of “families” that were moving here had been somewhat mooted. This year has seen a dramatic reversal, and we only have to look at the local school enrollment levels to see just how much this has changed.

Montecito Union: 68 new enrollments in 2020
Cold Springs School: 20 new enrollments in 2020
Laguna Blanca: 117 new enrollments in 2020
Santa Barbara Unified School District: 664 new enrollments in 2020


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