Santa Barbara: Sunset Magazine’s #1 Beach Town


13 Western states, British Columbia, and Alberta duked it out for Sunset magazine’s first annual Travel Awards, which “recognize achievement in lodging, dining, cultural tourism, outdoor adventure, environmental stewardship, and other categories.” The magazine solicited nomination entries for a variety of categories, and from there an array of teams, judges and advisory boards deliberated the winners. Judges included tourism directors, authors of travel books and resort CEOs, so opinions were legitimately sourced.

And the winner for Best Beach Town? Drum roll, please… SANTA BARBARA! It is a great distinction to be recognized in a magazine that specifically showcases the ultimate Western lifestyle. From world renown surf spots such as Rincon, vibrant night life on State Street and unique scenery, to a rich Spanish history and culture, and wine-tasting in Santa Ynez, it seems we hit all the checkboxes for an ideal coastal lifestyle. It’s no wonder everyone here is happy as a clam! What more could you ask for?

If you’re looking for some ideas regarding fun things to do in Santa Barbara, check out our Local’s Guide blog by clicking here. We also have a list of local favorites where you may find Riskin Partner’s best picks in food, wine, home needs, golf courses and more. Don’t forget that FIESTA! begins next week so be sure to participate in the weekend activities to celebrate our awesome community!

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Calling All Open House Lovers!

Riskin Partners is pleased to announce the newest addition to our website: an online open house directory for Montecito and Santa Barbara!

These directories will automatically update with any open house changes or additions, rendering it a convenient and reliable resource for all those house hunters looking for an incredible property. Users may also filter results and view listing details at their convenience. What are you waiting for? Take a look!

Click Here to View All Montecito Open Houses

Click Here to View All Santa Barbara Open Houses

RP open houses this weekend include:

705 Park Lane – open Sunday, 7/26 2 – 4 PM
offered at $4,595,000

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This charming country residence features a 4bd/4.5ba main house, 1bd/1ba guest apartment, sport court and a bounty of blooming gardens.

709 Park Lane – open Sunday, 7/26 2 – 4 PM
Offered at $3,750,000

An inviting pool and verdant grounds accompany a bright and pristine 3bd/3.5ba residence at one of Montecito's best addresses.

An inviting pool and verdant grounds accompany a bright and pristine 3bd/3.5ba residence at one of Montecito’s best addresses.

Drought, Desalination… What’s The Deal?

Drought

The current drought in California has commanded the attention of many and as we continue to see minimal rain here in Santa Barbara and throughout the state, this is not an issue that we will be disengaging from anytime soon. This particular drought began in 2012 and is the worst drought in 1,200 years. This year also marks an all-time record low for snow pack levels in the Sierras amounting to an equivalent of 24 billion gallons of water loss. For a striking visual perception of the drought, Click Here to view an article which compares photos of California’s water sources just before the drought in 2011 and their recent state, in 2014.

All-time low snow pack levels in the Sierras amount to an equivalent of 24 billion gallons of water loss for the state.

Limited rainfall has caused our water reservoirs to become depleted and over drafting of groundwater is underway. Looking at our future, “the 2016-2017 water year is looking dire…assuming that there will be no surface water coming from Lake Cachuma, the State Water Project or Jameson Lake.” State-wide, Governor Jerry Brown has issued a mandate that urban water use must be reduced 25 percent below 2013 levels by February 2016. To put this all in perspective, NASA estimates, “it would take 11 trillion gallons of water to get us out of drought,” and it is these types of severities that are causing people to seek for solutions to this complicated problem.

Water levels at Lake Cachuma linger at 28% capacity with the aid of local conservation efforts and water externally purchased and pumped in from the state

Recently, Santa Barbara increased to Stage 3 drought regulations, which call for stringent water use restrictions and increased water rates. Conservation techniques are another alleviation, which Santa Barbara residents are implementing effectively. In the month of May, residents conserved an astounding 37%, bringing reduction efforts up to 24% since last July and only 1% away from the city’s goal (go SB!). Santa Barbara also holds the lead for highest conservation rates in the state, but we must also consider what else may lie in the near future for our community. If the drought persists and there is no water available for purchase, the city needs another fallback.

Desalination

The Santa Barbara desalination facility was built in 1991 yet has never been used. Reactivation of the SB plant is in the works and Montecito is considering building its own, new plant to curtail the persistent drought. There is some resistance concerning plant costs, timing, energy intensity, water prices and the potentially harmful effects inflicted on aquatic organisms.

Desalination has been a topic of discussion as the vast ocean near our homes provokes its consideration as a potential water source; after all, 97.5% of all the water on Earth is sea water. Click here to watch a 30-second informational video explaining the process of desalination. For a smaller Santa Barbara community like Montecito, drought relief options are limited and, aside from increased water rates, desalination seems a viable recourse. According to Montecito general manager, Tom Mosby, “Santa Barbara expects to get its desalination facility operational next year [and] if it’s approved by the state and the Santa Barbara City Council moves forward, Montecito could get emergency permit status by the end of 2016 for its own facility.” A new Montecito plant would cost between $60 and $80 million and in conjunction with the Santa Barbara plant,  “could handle almost all the city’s water needs”; but only as long as residents continuation their conservation and cut their existing usage by 25%.

The Deal

– The drought is very serious and even with some recent minor rainfall, residents must keep in the mind that this issue has not been overcome. There is a 70% likelihood that the drought will persist.

– Santa Barbara locals are responding productively to water restrictions and conservation efforts yet that does not mean we should ease up on conservation techniques and implementation – this is an ongoing endeavor. For further tips and information regarding reduction of your water consumption, visit the Santa Barbara County Water Conservation page by clicking here. 

– Desalination is only a complementary aid to water conservation, and efforts are underway to recommission the Santa Barbara plant as well as construct a new plant for Montecito; however, this may be costly, energy-intensive and it is questionable whether or not the plants will be ready and functioning before the drought is over.

Effect on the real estate market: Water allotments per parcel are tightening and causing buyers to reconsider their water sources and water use (on average in California, almost 50% of total residential water use is for the outdoors/landscaping). Now more than ever, buyers are placing high value on wells and also drought-considerate landscaping in order to remain within these allotments.

A Local’s Guide to Santa Barbara

Clear skies and idyllic weather are common here in Santa Barbara and Montecito and now that summer has officially arrived, the locals are increasingly out and about. Fortunately for those who are lucky enough to visit, or even call this place home, there is an impressive array of opportunities to adventure, relax, dine, or anything else your soul desires. If you’re yearning to discover unique and high quality places, click here to view a great article by goop.com, which details a variety of wonderful destinations.

All of us here at Riskin Partners also have our favorite picks, so check out the list below for a small sampling of all that Santa Barbara has to offer. If you’re feeling especially enticed, maybe moving here or buying a second home is in your future! For the full list of our Local Favorites, from real estate needs to lifestyle suggestions, visit the Riskin Partners website here.

Accommodations – The Four Seasons Biltmore, Montecito

For a peaceful and relaxing stay, this 5-star luxury hotel is located adjacent to the beautiful Butterfly Beach. In classic California style, they “invite guests to indulge in everything from tours of local wineries to surfing, lazing on the beach or lounging poolside at the exclusive Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club.” Relax and be treated at the Santa Barbara Spa, dine at the ocean-view Bella Vista restaurant, or even book a surf session with surfing legend Tom Curren. Find Sara Thandi here on any holiday with her family, this is her favorite place to grab some brunch!

Adventure – Inspiration Point Hike, Santa Barbara

A great workout with some serious views – Inspiration Point is a classic Santa Barbara hike that will having you feeling motivated once you reach the top. Winding through the stunning Santa Ynez mountains, this 3.5-mile round trip hike is best enxperienced at sunrise or sunset. If you enjoy this one, Rebecca, an avid hiker, also suggests trying the San Ysidro trail.

Site-seeing & Architecture – Rose Garden at the Old Mission, Santa Barbara

With such a rich history, there are a wealth of landmarks and stunning Spanish Revival style architecture throughout the city which should not be missed. Among the Santa Barbara Courthouse (known by many as the most beautiful public building in the country) and its gorgeous sunken gardens, Meridian Studios, and other iconic buildings, the Old Santa Barbara Mission will always remain a classic. Take Robert’s advice: grab a blanket, some wine and outdoor games, and have a picnic next to the Mission’s blooming rose garden. A retreat like this is best enjoyed if you bring some friends along!

Mid-day Dining –The Santa Barbara Public Market, Santa Barbara

For just over a year now, the Public Market has been host to an array of purveyors – priding itself in “handcrafted, regionally sourced and sustainably made food and wine.” Whether you’re looking for Crazy Good Bread, a quality cup of joe, delicious seafood, fresh-made pasta, or a glass of wine, the Public Market has it all. If you’re feeling like working on your culinary artistry or need to host an event, their Kitchen serves as a commissary and event space. According to Marie, the Market is a great place to meet with friends because there is something for everyone, but her top pick is the potato gnocchi at the Pasta Shoppe. Pair with a flight of wine at the tasting bar for a delicious Italian meal…you definitely will not be disappointed.

Live Music – The Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara

Set on a hillside overlooking Santa Barbara, the Bowl is a historic amphitheater circa 1936 with striking views – a true landmark of the area. It has been host to some of the biggest names in the music industry including Bob Marley, Santana, Radiohead, Jack Johnson, Steely Dan, and Sting, just to name a few. The intimate venue also hosts a variety of up and coming artists, so all types of music fans can rock out. Upcoming shows include Aerosmith on July 7thAretha Franklin on August 6th, the Santa Barbara Mariachi Festival on August 8th and the Alabama Shakes on August 18th. Live music has always been a big part of Jasmine’s life, her husband is even in a band called Surprise Me (vote for them here to help them have an opportunity to play at Summerfest in Wisconsin!). Of all the music venues she has been to, she claims that the Bowl is by far the most beautiful.

Dinner – The Lark, Santa Barbara

We L.O.V.E. the Lark! This family-style restaurant serves “locally sourced and responsibly grown” meals, which are incredibly fresh and delectable. Try the roasted beets and burrata, the marinated grill & hangar steak, the herb roasted diver scallops, or even their famous brussel sprouts – everything on their seasonal menu is simply divine. Sarah Kelly advises that if you’re looking to grab a cocktail on a weekend night, this is the place to be. The bone marrow crusted beef cheeks and Mary’s roasted chicken are her favorite picks on this menu.

Wine Tasting – The Funk Zone, Santa Barbara

The Funk Zone is a hip, arts, business, and industrial district close to State Street and the Santa Barbara harbor. Here you may find over 10 wine tasting rooms and a variety of studios, galleries, surf shops, and restaurants (including The Lark)! All within walking distance to each other, the Funk Zone makes for a lovely night on the town. Make sure to check out Pali Wine CoCorks N Crowns, and Dina’s favorite, Les Marchands Wine Bar and Marchant, where she recently celebrated her engagement! Fun Fact: the owner, Brian McClintic was featured in the popular wine documentary called SOMM, “which chronicled his journey to the elusive Master Sommelier title.”

An International Affair

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Just a hop, skip, and a jump across the pond…and then all the way over to the West coast – yesterday, our fantastic affiliates at Mayfair International Realty paid us a lovely visit here in Montecito! Along with Village Properties’ founder, Renee Grubb, we were fortunate enough to network with our guests, Managing Director Nick Churton and Director Annette Reeve. Much of the day was spent discussing advertising and press opportunities, as our exclusive collaboration with Mayfair presents the unique advantage of superb exposure to the global market. With member firms dating back to 1750 and covering every aspect of modern estate agency, land agency and property related professional services, Mayfair blends multiple disciplines with outstanding expertise and geographical supremacy. The Mayfair Group brings together all the very best independent firms to make a formidable force in property services. Over 300 hundred UK offices working in 47 counties, plus 150 offices active across North America and Australia, all have one aim in common – to provide the best possible property service where you live or would like to live.

So, we took the best to tour the best of our beautiful town. Throughout the day, we explored a variety of Village’s properties including the romantic Villa di Serenita, charming Brookside, and one of our newest listings, enchanting Garden Lane. Of course, a proper experience of Santa Barbara would not be complete without a stop at the El Encanto Hotel for a delicious lunch! We wanted to thank our UK visitors for an enjoyable visit, we hope that our adoration for Santa Barbara and Montecito rubbed off on you and left a lasting impression!

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To find out more about our premier affiliates at Mayfair International Realty, click here

Press Release: Riskin Partners Closes Over $146 Million in Luxury Real Estate in Q1 2015

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Santa Barbara’s leading residential real estate team, Riskin Partners, a luxury division of  Village Properties Realtors, the area’s exclusive Christies International Real Estate affiliate,  has broken an all-time record, closing over $146 million in sales in the first quarter of 2015.  Partners Rebecca Riskin, Dina Landi and Sarah Kelly, earned the #1 position in the Santa  Barbara Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for dollar volume sales in 2014, and have closed in  excess of $284 million over the last twelve months. Riskin Partners has claimed the #1  position for dollar volume sales in Montecito 9 out of the last 10 years, and was recognized  by the Wall Street Journal in 2012 as the #11 team in the country.

 

Riskin Partners’ sales volume is a staggering 206% greater than the #2 agent in the Santa Barbara MLS. Among the team’s 2015 sales was an exceptional Padaro Lane beach house, which closed for $19 million, the year’s highest sale to date. Riskin Partners represented the sellers in every sale over $10 million this year. Three of those properties received multiple offers.

Riskin Partners represented the sellers of this exceptional Padaro Lane beach house, the year's highest sale to date.

Riskin Partners represented the sellers of this exceptional Padaro Lane beach house, the year’s highest sale to date.

 

“In this year’s first quarter, Santa Barbara and Montecito have seen a substantial increase in real estate activity across the board,” said Dina Landi. “In fact, sales are up 26% year to date.”

What is the team’s strategy for the remainder of 2015?

According to Sarah Kelly, “In order to continue to provide impeccable service and unrivaled representation for our clients, we’ve expanded our team to include seven full-time professionals.”

Rebecca Riskin adds, “Meeting our client’s needs is our first priority. We are proud of our success, but ultimately only feel successful when our clients are happy.”

A Little Something for Your Lady: A Women’s Holiday Gift Guide

Gentlemen, the holidays are here and it’s that time of the year to spoil the special woman in your life. This gift guide will help you get into the giving spirit and hopefully entice you to shop and explore the local Santa Barbara area. Not only are these gifts unique, the majority also offer opportunities to spend some quality time with your lady, an added bonus. Simply click on the links and pictures to discover more information. Happy holidays!

Rejuvinate

Shangri-La Spa Package from Ojai Vally Inn and Spa, $560

No one can say no to a day at the spa, especially when you spend it in scenic Ojai. This particular package is the full deal including a choice of three classic spa treatments, a lavender or seasonal manicure and pedicure, and lunch at Cafe Verde.

Cuddle Up

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Exotic Faux Fur Blanket from Restoration Hardware$239

Luxuriously soft and warm, this faux fur blanket is likened to a personal cloud. It’s perfect for those rare cold and rainy winter nights in Santa Barbara when you’re cozied up by the fire place. Order from our local Restoration Hardware on State Street.

Adventure

“Top Deck” Tour from Captain Jack’s, $400

For the adventurous couple who wants a little bit of everything, this tour is the perfect fit. A guide will accompany you throughout your day as you start off by kayaking the Gaviota Coast. Next, enjoy lunch at a secluded resort, horseback riding through the beautiful mountains, and, to top it all off, wine tasting at two local Santa Barbara wineries.

The Ultimate Luxury

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Paraiba Tourmaline Earrings from Silverhorn Jewelers, contact Silverhorn for pricing

Jewelry is a classic and timeless way to express your love for someone. Silverhorn jewelers in Montecito has a variety of unique and elegant pieces that are sure to impress. They also have gem carvings, mineral specimens, gem stones, and other stunning objects of art available so be sure to explore their entire store.

Splurge Day

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“49 Square Miles” Outfit (left) from Wendy Foster, total $1,658

Back to the basics: a new outfit never hurt anybody. Wendy Foster is a high-end fashion boutique with locations in Montecito, State Street, and Los Olivos. This store has clothing options for every type of woman – from casual to business attire, accessories to small gifts, this place has trendy written all over it. Buy her a full outfit or take her on a shopping spree, if that’s more your cup of tea; there are plenty of delicious restaurants nearby to make this a splurge day for your special lady.