Montecito: California’s Golden Quadrangle Is an Celebrity Haunt Some Say Is Undervalued

Understated and casually elegant, the Golden Quadrangle represents the epitome of luxury living in California’s celebrity-centric Montecito.

The neighborhood, which features some of the most expensive properties in the community that’s a five- to 10-minute drive from Santa Barbara, offers a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere for all the boldface names it attracts.

“Despite the wealth and fame of some of its residents, it’s rare to see anyone dressed up,” said Luke Ebbin, the principal in Compass’ The Ebbin Group. “It’s a very friendly town—the general vibe is quiet wealth, not flashy.”

Dusty Baker, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty-Montecito Coast Village Road Brokerage, agreed, adding that “to use a car analogy, you’re more likely to see a Range Rover than a Lamborghini.”

Boundaries

The Golden Quadrangle is bounded by East Valley Road on the south, East Mountain Drive on the north, Hot Springs Road on the west and Buena Vista

Price Range

While prices for the smaller properties, such as a ranch house or a Spanish-revival home on a half-acre to a 1-acre lot, start at around $3 million, the luxury end of the market generally commands prices of $8 million to upwards of $50 million, according to Mr. Ebbin.

Mr. Baker added that the average luxury property, $7 million, generally is on a flat acre of land and has a 4,000-square-foot main residence, a pool and a guest house.

“The price for a luxury private estate on a prestigious street such as Picacho Lane, however, will cost you $20 million or more,” he said.

This gated-community estate, listed for $17.9 million, features a Spanish-style home that's 8,577 square feet and has six bedrooms, eight full bathrooms and two half bathrooms.

This gated-community estate, listed for $17.9 million, features a Spanish-style home that’s 8,577 square feet and has six bedrooms, eight full bathrooms and two half bathrooms.David Palermo for Sotheby’s International Realty

Housing Stock

The Golden Quadrangle has only 419 single-family homes and large estates and is famous for its 1920s to 1930s Andalusian-style Spanish residences. Other architectural styles include board-and-batten, Tuscan, old-world European, French Normandy, traditional and modern.

“The homes range in age from the 1920s to new builds,” Mr. Ebbin said. “Generally, the lots start at 1 acre and go up to 13 acres or more.”

Nancy Kogevinas, director of Berkshire Hathaway Luxury Collection, noted that “the neighborhood is pretty much all estates, ranging from 5,000 square feet on an acre to 12,000 square feet and over with multiple buildings.”

This 8,353-square-foot Spanish Colonial home, built in 2008 and set on over 6 acres, sold for $9 million on March 26, 2021.

This 8,353-square-foot Spanish Colonial home, built in 2008 and set on over 6 acres, sold for $9 million on March 26, 2021.Eric Foote

What Makes It Unique

The uniqueness of the Golden Quadrangle starts with its name.

“The Golden in Golden Quadrangle refers to the sunlight offered in this area—the topography is such that it typically rests above the fog line,” Mr. Baker says. “The area is special because of its convenient proximity to the Upper Village shops and restaurants, the world-renowned San Ysidro Ranch and the Montecito Union School, one of California’s top-ranked public elementary schools.”

Jason Streatfeild, a broker associate with Douglas Elliman, noted that the Golden Quadrangle’s microclimate “has a perfectly calm and even temperature year-round, with clear skies and an abundance of comfortable sunshine.”

Mr. Ebbin said that the Golden Quadrangle “offers the finest lifestyle in the country. It’s sunny and warm most of the year with beach and mountain access, a laid-back lifestyle and a ubiquitous spirit of gratitude that we get to live in such a special place.”

Set on 2.1 acres, this ocean-view neoclassical estate has three bedrooms, five bathrooms, a pool and a courtyard. The residence is 7,000 square feet, and the property is listed for $12.995 million.

Set on 2.1 acres, this ocean-view neoclassical estate has three bedrooms, five bathrooms, a pool and a courtyard. The residence is 7,000 square feet, and the property is listed for $12.995 million.Alexis Adam

Luxury Amenities

Although the Golden Quadrangle has a small-town feel, it offers access to a variety of chic amenities.

“It really is a throwback to a time when things were simpler, no big-chain stores and luxury that whispers, not screams,” Ms. Kogevinas said.

The San Ysidro Ranch and its Stonehouse Restaurant are, according to Mr. Ebbin, “legendary” and “iconic” amenities. The ranch, which has 38 vine-covered cottages surrounded by gardens, has had a celebrity-studded history: Groucho Marx, Winston Churchill, Sinclair Lewis and John Houston stayed there. Lawrence Olivier and Vivian Leigh held their wedding on the grounds, and John F. and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned in the cottage that is named for them.

The Montecito Upper Village Shopping area, which is on the southern border of Golden Quadrangle, features an enclave of boutiques ranging from the Montecito Coffee Shop and the Tecolote Book Shop to the House of Honey interior design shop and William Laman Furniture and Garden Antiques.

“The coffee shop, the book shop, Via Vai Trattoria and Pizzeria and Pane e Vino Trattoria are local mainstays,” Mr. Ebbin said.

The neighborhood offers an abundance of outdoor activities. “Some of the most stunning hikes are in the Golden Quadrangle,” Mr. Ebbin said. “There’s biking through the neighborhood’s winding roads and world-class surf right down the road.”

There are three country clubs just south of the neighborhood. Founded in 1929, The Valley Club of Montecito offers golf, tennis and several dining options. Birnam Wood Golf Club features golf, tennis and dining as well as social and fitness programs.

Owned and operated by its members, the Knowlwood Tennis Club, founded in 1970, is a family-oriented club that has junior and adult programs.

There also are several clubs in nearby Santa Barbara, including the Montecito Club, which has a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club, which has a pool, a fitness center and restaurants.

There are several private schools in which Golden Quadrangle residents enroll their children. Our Lady of Mount Carmel School is a Catholic day school for pre-kindergarten to eighth grade students. El Montecito Early School, a Christian preschool, accepts students aged 2 years and older.

There are several other private schools that are a few minutes’ drive from the neighborhood. They include Crane Country Day, which features what its website calls “experiential education,” and Laguna Blanca, a college-prep school that has a campus in Santa Barbara as well as in Montecito.

Cultural amenities and museums are in downtown Santa Barbara, which is a few minutes drive from the Golden Quadrangle.

Built in 1937, this Spanish Revival estate, which is set on 1.65 acres and includes a separate guest house, is on the market for $5.25 million.

Built in 1937, this Spanish Revival estate, which is set on 1.65 acres and includes a separate guest house, is on the market for $5.25 million.Eric Foote

Who Lives There

“We get all types of people: titans of industry, Hollywood celebrities, Silicon Valley transplants and regular people working regular jobs who want to raise their families in this idyllic environment,” Mr. Ebbin said.

He added that Montecito is “filled with residents from ‘somewhere else,’ many like myself who were once city dwellers who are seeking a quieter outdoor-oriented lifestyle.”

While Montecito has traditionally attracted residents who are 60 and older, Mr. Baker noted that “the new generation of buyers is quite young, as young families from San Francisco, Los Angeles and other major markets are flocking here.”

He added that about half of the homes in Golden Quadrangle are primary residences.

Listed for $11.995 million, this Balinese-style estate, set on 2.05 acres, has a main residence and a guest house.

Listed for $11.995 million, this Balinese-style estate, set on 2.05 acres, has a main residence and a guest house.Eric Foote

Notable Residents

The Golden Quadrangle is celebrity central. Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and his wife, model Behati Prinsloo, bought the historic El Miraval estate in Golden Quadrangle for $22.7 million in March, according to published reports.

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi also are residents, according to published reports. So is Oprah Winfrey, who owns several properties, including her main residence, a 42-acre estate named The Promised Land that she bought in 2001 for $50 million.

Outlook

One of Montecito’s greatest assets, according to Mr. Baker, is the fact that compared with other major markets, it’s been undervalued.

“For example, the same real estate in Brentwood has historically cost upward of three time more than it would in Golden Quadrangle,” he said. “This has been due to the lack of major industry in Santa Barbara. However, now that remote work is more common, I anticipate prices continuing to rise in Montecito.”

Sales increased 82% in the first quarter of this year compared to a year ago, and the median sale price rose by 61% during that time, Mr. Baker said. And where zero sales over $10 million were recorded in the first three months of 2020, the same period this year produced 12 such sales, he added.

Article Source: Mansion Global