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Santa Barbara Community Information

Santa Barbara is the jewel of California beach towns. It occupies a sliver of land between lavender mountains and an endless sea. Jutting out from the California land mass, it impudently faces southward while hugging the Pacific coastline. Here, beach goers must rotate a quarter turn to the right to catch the setting sun. There is nothing average about this city, and that is exactly why we love it.

The Chumash were the city’s first inhabitants. The Santa Barbara Courthouse stands on the site of a former Chumash village, and City College sprawls over another. Today’s highway #101 was a major Chumash trading trail, where tribes from inland villages brought obsidian, woven blankets, and the red mineral hematite to trade the Chumash for sea otter pelts, shells and tar for caulking their plank canoes.

Europeans first encountered the Chumash in 1542 when Juan Cabrillo’s Spanish ships explored the coastline. Gaspar de Portola lead another expedition in 1769, establishing religious missions and military presidios. The indigenous people began working for the missions, and, tragically, within a short period of time their traditional culture was replaced by the mission system.

Santa Barbara is known as “The American Riviera.” Homes are frequently “Mediterranean” in style. Whitewashed houses with red tiled roofs dot the hillsides. Spanish and Italian tiles and furniture are popular. It all adds up to a distinctive look that might never have actually existed in the Mediterranean, but the illusion is magical.

As a seductress of Spanish explorers and European nobility, and dream weaver to college students and new arrivals; Santa Barbara is where man can indeed behold something commensurate with his capacity for wonder.

Join me in a visit to some of Santa Barbara’s neighborhoods and neighboring towns…

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