Montecito, California

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Montecito is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Barbara County, California. As of the 2000 census, the CDP population was 10,000, although the boundaries are ill-defined. Montecito is among the wealthiest communities in the United States. It is east of, and directly adjacent to, the city of Santa Barbara, occupying the eastern portion of the coastal plain south of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Portions of the town are built on the lower foothills of the range. Notable roads spanning the length of Montecito include East Valley Road, Mountain Drive, and Sycamore Canyon Road.



The site of present-day Montecito, along with the entire south coast of Santa Barbara County, was inhabited for over 10,000 years by the Chumash Indians. The Spanish arrived in the 18th century, but left the region largely unsettled while they built the Presidio and Mission Santa Barbara farther west.

In the middle of the 19th century the area was known as a haven for bandits and highway robbers, who hid in the oak groves and verdant canyons, preying on traffic on the coastal route between the towns that developed around the missions. By the end of the 1860s the bandit gangs were gone, and Italian settlers arrived. Finding an area reminiscent of their homes in Italy, they built farms and gardens similar to those they had left behind in Italy. Around the end of the 19th century, rich tourists from the eastern United States began to buy land in the area: it was near enough to Santa Barbara for essential services, was beautiful, secluded, with desirable weather and several nearby hot springs for health ailments, affordable land.[1]

The Montecito Hot Springs Hotel was built at the largest of the springs, in a canyon north of the town center and directly south of Montecito Peak, in Hot Springs Canyon. The exclusive hotel burned down in 1920; it was replaced a few years later by the smaller Hot Springs Club.[2]

The architect George Washington Smith is noted particularly for his residences around Montecito, and for popularizing the Spanish Colonial Revival style in early 20th Century America. Montecito has its early 20th character retained of an area of exclusive estates.

In November 2008, 80 Montecito homes were destroyed in the Tea Fire, which also destroyed 130 homes in the adjacent City of Santa Barbara.[3]

Geography and demographics

Montecito is located at 34°26′1″N 119°37′55″W / 34.43361°N 119.63194°W / 34.43361; -119.63194 (34.433687, -119.631845)[4]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 9.3 square miles (24.2 km²), all of it land.

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