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.

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See What Montecito Agents Are Calling “The Best House on the Market”

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It’s true. Montecito is riddled with some of the most enviable homes in the country, and arguably, the world. And really, it’s no surprise. With the most idyllic climate since the south of France and views of a comparable, coastal landscape, Montecito is easy to fall in love with, make a home, and stay forever. And that is just what the owner’s of 1125 Garden Lane did some 20 years ago. A couple from Maine who were pulled away to cultivate careers in the film industry, they vowed to create a home that felt like Maine, with the same sense of “permanence and provenance.” And so was built an exceptional Dutch-Revival residence nestled on over 3 captivating acres. Really, the grounds are unlike any other. Read on to experience what many agents are calling “the best house on the market.”

FrontExtVert Occupying one of Montecito’s most sought-after and private locations, an exquisite New England estate perfectly balances character and antiquity with the modern tastes of today’s discerning buyers.

A captivating lane in Montecito’s famed Riven Rock, Garden Lane hosts a timeless residence built by its current owner to feel steeped in East Coast elegance. Beyond private entry gates, a meandering tree-lined drive introduces 3.38 wooded acres, where resident oaks and deciduous specimen trees appear untouched by time.

The owner envisioned a home with “a sense of history, permanence and provenance,” which is exquisitely achieved not only by the blossoming vines that scale the exterior, but also by the thoughtfully curated design details found throughout the home. The home’s design aesthetic has been keenly celebrated in numerous design publications including Traditional Home, Elle Décor and Beautiful Homes Magazines. Stepping onto the inviting front porch, the attention to detail and superb quality construction is immediately evident. The striking foyer’s towering ceiling, archways and dignified staircase showcase the masterful eyes of architect Jock Sewall and builder Paul Franz. 1125GardenLane_09

Abundant natural light filters through an expansive picture window in the formal living room. Wide oak floorboards in a rich stain offer a luxurious contrast to crisp paneled walls, a tasteful fireplace and French doors leading to sunny terraces and glorious rose gardens on both sides of the room. An adjacent den of handsome design, offering built-ins and large window seat, is perfectly situated for an office or game room. 1125GardenLane_12

The formal dining room is poised to host family and friends. Built-in china cabinets, a sundrenched window seat and exquisite chandelier create an atmosphere fitting for intimate dinner parties and jovial gatherings alike. Many of the light fixtures throughout the home are antique, having been hand selected by the owner in an effort to further the desired sense of history.

An expansive great room encompasses the charming kitchen and delightful family room where French doors and large windows open to the pool. Custom designed by the owner, an avid chef, the kitchen boasts the finest culinary appliances. An informal dining area comfortably seats ten, perfect for sunny Sunday morning brunch or casual afternoon snacks in the family great room.

The classic New England tenor continues throughout the great room with beadboard, crown molding and an inviting stone fireplace, creating a sophisticated yet comfortable ambience. A sunny deck with large stone fireplace beckons leisurely afternoons and crisp evenings beneath ancient oaks.

A quaint office/guest suite boasting a private bath, enjoys French doors opening to the pool garden. A powder room, oversized multipurpose room and laundry area ideal for arranging blossoms from the cutting garden, and access to the garage complete the home’s main level.

The elegant staircase draws one to a lovely sitting area with built-in bookcases. Beautiful arched windows overlook the blossoming rose garden while a towering pitched ceiling creates a room both spacious and open, at the same time cozy and welcoming.1125GardenLane_25

A pair of antique pillars frames the doorway to the master bedroom, introducing the vintage elegance that defines the suite. Century-old oak graces the floor, complementing the aged patina of the plaster walls. Large windows overlook verdant treetops, welcoming the romantic aroma of rose and herb gardens, and brilliant sunlight. Two walk-in closets precede the master bath, a serene escape boasting an oversized shower, elegant soaking tub and sizeable vanity with dual sinks and custom tile work. Windows open to the oak canopy, allowing sweet breezes to further the sense of calm in the master suite.

Two lovely bedroom suites on the opposite wing of the home’s upper level overlook the stunning pool garden. Both suites are bright and open with pitched ceilings and abundant sunlight, and offer the privacy of dedicated baths.
In addition to the ample motor court, the spacious garage can house two vehicles and offers a sizeable workshop, custom built humidor and additional storage space ideal for a wine cellar.

1125GardenLane_04Outside, the grounds are a private oasis. Towering specimen trees surround the estate, allowing sun to filter to the private pool terrace, lush lawn and porch with outdoor fireplace. A charming pool cabana offers a powder room and lounge area with wet bar, ideal for escaping the afternoon sun. An impressive rose and herb garden offers bountiful blossoms for arrangements and cooking with the freshest ingredients.

Stone-lined pathways meander through the estate’s gently rolling acres, along Hot Springs and Cold Springs creeks, both seasonal, toward hidden sitting areas. A shady woodland of deciduous specimen trees, native oaks, apple and persimmon trees create a lively landscape ripe for exploration. Beyond the private gates of Riven Rock, the scenic Hot Springs hiking trail lies just a half-mile away, at the junction of Riven Rock Road and East Mountain Drive. The serene hiking trail winds past grand estates toward tranquil waterfalls and endless vista points. This exceptional lifestyle amenity can be enjoyed year-round in Montecito’s enviable climate.

 

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The enclave affords unparalleled privacy and is defined by a calm and serenity awarded to few locations so near to town. Just minutes from Montecito’s fine dining, upscale shops, world-renowned resorts and pristine beaches, the quiet lanes of Riven Rock are perfectly situated for a rich lifestyle.

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1125 Garden Lane is offered at $6,795,000
To experience the magic of this exquisite home, contact the listing agents at Riskin Partners to schedule a showing. 

 

 

 

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.”

Montecito – The Zip Code of Wealth

Every year Forbes.com releases a list of the nation’s Most Expensive Zip Codes, and like clock work, Montecito’s 93108 makes the list in the top 20. Home to not just millionaires, but a healthy number of billionaires and celebrities who either call Montecito home or their favorite place to keep their vacation home. In 2013, Montecito ranked #17 on the Forbes list, with a median home price of $3,740,091. This year, with property values across the state of California slowly inching upward, Montecito comes in at #14 and $4,236,951.

Other than exceptional year-round weather in an incredible coastal location, what defines a wealthy zip code. Firstly, the neighbors. Montecito is a mingling of staggering mega-mansions, distinctive historic houses, expertly designed new constructions and quaint cottages. A cozy 2 bedroom home may rest adjacent to a 10,000sf manse. These large estates tend to rest on acres of superbly manicured grounds with lavish outdoor entertaining spaces – perfect for lounging in warm, Montecito sun. These large properties affect the values of every property in their vicinity – driving up the value regardless of size – and increasing the average property value.

Secondly, that million dollar view. Montecito can be found between the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. These higher elevations afford stunning views of both the mountains and the ocean. Some homes boast views so expansive, you can see the Santa Barbara harbor and the coastline to Ventura.

Next, the schools. Montecito is home to many of California’s finest primary schools. Montecito Union and Cold Springs schools regularly rank as two of California’s best public schools. Crane Country Day School, All Saints by the Sea, Music Academy of the West and Westmont College are all excellent private schools in the area. Being within the Montecito Union School district directly affects the price of a home when compared to homes which sit in neighboring districts.

Below, enjoy a few of the fantastic properties which have helped land Montecito’s 93108 make the Forbes list once again. For more information on each property, simply click the image…

This exceptional Standford White home circa 1895 is offered at $11,900,000

This exceptional Standford White home circa 1895 is offered at $11,900,000.

Expansive ocean views, a pool with lavish pool house and approximately 8,000sf of living space command a $13,695,000 price tag for this Montecito estate.

Expansive ocean views, a pool with lavish pool house and approximately 8,000sf of living space command a $13,650,000 price tag for this Montecito estate.

$9,250,000 will buy you a historic English Manor with ocean views and a location that allows for walking to restaurants, shops, luxury resorts and beaches.

$9,250,000 will buy you a historic English Manor with ocean views and a location that allows for walking to restaurants, shops, luxury resorts and beaches.

In a private, gated community, $2,195,000 will buy you a beautiful, flat 1.5 acre lot to build your dream home.

In a private, gated community, $2,195,000 will buy you a beautiful, flat 1.5 acre lot to build your dream home.

LIVE! The Riskin Associates Mobile App


RA-icon-196  Introducing the Riskin Associates mobile application 

  We are pleased to announce the availability of the Riskin Associates mobile application. Based in Montecito, CA, Riskin Associates has been the    top selling Santa Barbara real estate team for the past decade. The award-winning team lists some of the most coveted estates on the south Santa  Barbara coast. We were engaged by them to create a mobile application that would add to the services they provide their buying and selling clients  that have made them a market leader.

  Goals and Approach

For the design of the application, we took queues from the Village Properties mobile website we developed since the Riskin Associates team is part of the brokerage. We decided to keep the overall flow of the application intact, but the branding, content and functionality needed customized for Riskin Associates. We wanted to accomplish a number of goals with the modified design:

  • Produce a clean, elegant design that conveys the elegance and luxury of the properties they represent
  • Provide a vehicle for them to highlight and market their distinctive properties
  • Incorporate visual imagery that reflects the unique nature and beauty of their listings and the surrounding area
  • Create a finished product that would further differentiate their brand and set them apart as a leader in the market

Riskin-Associates-Featured-Properties-199x300-1Key features of the application

In order to develop the key features of the application, we evaluated their online presence which uses vivid photos and imagery to highlight their property listings. We wanted to provide a similar visual experience on mobile and give Riskin Associates the flexibility to highlight the different properties they represent. In addition to the essential features such as property search (both by location and by criteria), methods to contact the team, and an about us section, we incorporated the following:

  • A vivid home page focused on a full width image that can be dynamically changed by Riskin Associates
  • A featured listing section that allows them to highlight the properties they represent – each listing is its own interactive photo gallery that can be compiled and controlled by the Riskin Associates marketing team
  • Links to custom content created by the marketing team such as property brochures that are hosted through Calaméo

You can access the application via any iPhone or Android device by opening the browser (or Safari) on your phone and going to www.montecito-realestate.com. You will be automatically redirected to the mobile application where you can learn more about the Riskin Associates team and explore their featured listings.Riskin-Associates-Home-Screen-199x300

Raising the bar for service and performance

It was a pleasure working with the Riskin Associates team on the development of their mobile application. The energy and enthusiasm they brought to the project is evident in the finished product. It is a reflection of the time and personal attention that they give each of their clients. It shows in all aspects of their business, particularly in the level of service they provide their clients and the attention-to-detail they put into their marketing materials. With the availability of their mobile application, they have another tool that reinforces this high level of service, whether it is used for marketing properties or helping prospective buyers identify properties to purchase.

The Riskin Associates mobile application is another example of how leading brokerages and agent teams are embracing mobile to raise the bar on the services the provide their clients, differentiate themselves in the market, and further reinforce their leadership position in the market.

The Riskin Associates mobile website was created by Aumnia.

October’s Epicure.sb Is Back!

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It’s no secret that the Santa Barbara area is well-known for some of the freshest, most delectable farm-t0-table culinary offerings around. All year round, menus across town are tailored to highlight each season’s unique fare and autumn is absolutely no exception. The harvest season brings out robust flavors and heart-warming colors which Santa Barbara chefs take full advantage of. October brings about the fabulous Epicure.sb event which invites locals and visitors alike to experience food-focussed events and creative menus. Special menus, crafted cocktails, wine tastings and more are all spotlighted all month long, infusing a fresh take on Santa Barbara cuisine. Invite your favorite foodie friends and indulge your appetite all through the month!