Neighborhood Spotlight: Santa Barbara's Mesa

Neighborhood Spotlight: Santa Barbara's Mesa

Quite possibly the most popular neighborhood in all of Santa Barbara, the Mesa has the textbook makings of a real estate hotbed: sandy beaches, trendy dining, quality schools, temperate weather, inviting parks, cohesive community, and diverse housing.  


The Mesa's flagship is Leadbetter Beach.  Situated between the harbor and Shoreline Park, Leadbetter is an extremely popular surfing beach (especially for kids and beginners).  Sprawling sand makes room for everyone to lay out.  Delicious seafood is just a short walk to the harbor.  Moving West, you'll come to Thousand Steps.  A hyperbolic name if there ever was one, these stairs can sometimes feel like there are a thousand of them.  This rugged (by Santa Barbara standards) beach is perfect for a sunset walk or, if you're a glutton for punishment, stair repeats.  Up next is Mesa Lane.  Named after the street that funnels traffic to it, this beach is also popular among surfers.  There are many steps down to this beach, so be prepared for some exercise! Finally we have Hendry's Beach.  This is the most popular dog beach because your four-legged friends can roam off-leash.  The Boathouse is adjacent to the parking lot and  is the perfect place to get brunch in the morning or a glass of wine at sunset.


Healthy eaters will gravitate to the rustic-chic Mesa Verde.  Jet-setters will land at Alcazar for global tapas. Sushi lovers won't be disappointed by Ichiban.  Families will find something for everybody at Mesa BurgerGiovanni's is the go-to pizza spot.  After a long day in the sun, surfers replenish with burritos at Super Cuca's.  For those who like to stick to the classics, the Mesa does have a McDonald's and a Taco Bell ;)


I wrote last month about how to research schools.  The Mesa is home to Monroe Elementary and Washington Elementary.  The median home price for the past 12 months was $1,299,000 for Monroe and $1,795,000 for Washington.  It should be noted that Washington attendance area (aka Marine Terrace) is adjacent to Shoreline Park and Leadbetter Beach, both of which dramatically increase property values.  I always advise clients to do their own research on local schools (whether that research is online or in-person) because there is no one school that is the best fit for all students.


The Mesa is known to be a few degrees cooler than other parts of Santa Barbara.  It does see it's fair share of marine layer and coastal breezes.  Beach goers shouldn't be surprised to come up over Carrillo and be greeted with thick fog on a summer morning.  Overall, however, the Mesa still enjoy's Santa Barbara's famously temperate climate.

 Views from La Mesa park out to the Pacific Ocean (pic: Devin Wong)

Views from La Mesa park out to the Pacific Ocean (pic: Devin Wong)


There are plenty of open spaces on the Mesa, which is part of the reason it is so desirable for families.  Shoreline Park is a hub for exercise and ocean views with it's wide swaths of green space.  Leadbetter has a number of picnic tables and areas that can be reserved for parties.  La Mesa Park bridges the gap between West and East Mesa, and is known for it's play structures.  Elings Park attracts hikers, bikers, and paragliders (yes, paragliders!).  It also features athletic fields and panoramic views of the coast.  Escondido Park is a less-traveled park atop the Mesa that has play structures and basketball courts.  Douglas Preserve is a sunset-chaser's dream, with walking paths along the bluffs and soaring eucalyptus trees.


Known for it's laid-back attitude, the Mesa is a microcosm of the California lifestyle.  Those seeking respite from Santa Barbara's (relatively) busy downtown will feel welcome in this beachy neighborhood.  There is a subset of streets that house students from Santa Barbara City College.  A family-friendly atmosphere permeates throughout the entire area, but particularly Marine Terrace.  Sidewalks and parks are filled with active people.  The playgrounds are magnets for young families.  The Mesa allows you to downshift and enjoy life at a slower pace.


Homes on the Mesa were generally built in the 60's and 70's, and they're usually on the smaller side (<1,500 sqft).  They are typically in mostly-original condition, though there are a healthy number that have undergone complete renovations.  Investors, flippers, and owner-users alike have been pouring money into the Mesa at a fever pitch lately.  It is considered one of the hottest sub-markets in our area.  The graph below plots median home price vs specific time periods (number of home sales in parenthesis).  As for specific examples, here are homes that sold within the past year in these specific Mesa niches:  Harbor Hills, Marine Terrace, West Mesa, Alta Mesa.

Mesa // Median Home Price (in Millions of Dollars)


Not only does the data say the Mesa is on the rise, but it's also one of my favorite neighborhoods as well.  I frequently run through the side streets and surf at Mesa Lane and Leadbetter Beach.  

Want to go further in depth?  Let's chat over coffee...the Mesa has that too :)

Cheers! - Devin


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