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Tour the Little Neighborhood that Could: Bungalow Haven

By Cheri Rae

A decade ago, there was no such thing as Bungalow Haven. Located roughly between Victoria and Micheltorena, Laguna and Alta Vista, the area was known officially to the city as a part of the Lower Riviera, to local residents as a great place to live. Just six blocks from State Street, this small section of well-kept, modest-sized homes built nearly a hundred years ago; most with front porches, nice yards and distinctive features that make them enjoyable to live in: built-in cabinets and bookcases, stained-glass windows and window seats.

It is the embodiment of the sustainable, “not-so-big-house” in a walkable neighborhood—an important kind of housing in this community long before those now-green terms were coined and applied to so-called “smart growth.”

It’s where my husband and I scraped together every bit of cash we could to purchase our 1912 Craftsman-style bungalow way back in 1993. It was so tough to buy a home back in those days, we even made the real estate section of the News-Press, a profile of a happy couple with a toddler who were thrilled to have Made Good by qualifying for a mortgage for a nice, old house in a nice, old neighborhood.

The place is even nicer now—with a fine group of caring neighbors who have become great stewards of a special place to live. In the past decade, alarmed by the possibility of losing the intact historic neighborhood to development interests, we began to meet regularly; we identified—and communicated—what makes it worth saving. We educated ourselves, learned the language of bureaucracy and transformed ourselves from residents into neighborhood activists.

In the process, we’ve gotten a lot accomplished: We’ve worked with the city to develop official architectural design guidelines, we worked with the Planning Commission to save three fine bungalows on Laguna Street that were scheduled for demolition—and incorporated into the new condo development instead—and we’re working now with the venerable Pearl Chase Society as the location for its upcoming Historic Homes Tour.

The Pearl Chase Society, which has often featured huge, grand homes in its annual tours, has recognized and embraced the enduring appeal of the humble bungalow—and has created a unique opportunity for Santa Barbara to celebrate the Craftsman ideals of simplicity, natural materials and fine design. The tour, scheduled for May 20, 11-4, includes eight homes, among them several small bungalows, an English Farmhouse, a Queen Anne Victorian cottage and the unique, Asian-inspired Pagoda House.

The tour allows for a glimpse into the daily lives, hobbies, collections and good taste of a diverse group of residents—including an architect, a teacher, a nurse, a craftsman, a doctor, a couple of artists and several small business owners—reflecting much of the same demographic that has always lived in, and appreciated, this neighborhood built to last.

The purchase of a ticket for the tour supports the efforts of the Pearl Chase Society, as its primary fund-raiser of the year. The organization regularly donates to multiple local preservation efforts, including the Courthouse; the restoration of the Douglass Parshall mural at Santa Barbara Jr. High and the portrait of Pearl Chase at the Carrillo Recreation Center, and even the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County for the purchase of Hot Springs Canyon.

For more information about the Pearl Chase Society or to sign up for the upcoming Historic Homes Tour: http://www.pearlchasesociety.org/.

10 Responses to “Tour the Little Neighborhood that Could: Bungalow Haven”

  1. SB Seashells

    Great event. I love touring local homes but always makes me jealous :-)

  2. High Society

    Don’t be jealous. Be glad you don’t have to pay their property taxes or upkeep costs. And do notice that most large houses always have some intimate nook, where you see real family life goes on while the rest of the manse is more for show.

  3. Dave Davis

    Congrats to you, Cheri. Your love of your neighbors and what make this a very special community shines through in all that you do! Thanks for reminding me!

  4. Bill Carson

    Nice comment Dave, so then why do you and MTD try so hard to ruin perfectly good and peaceful neighborhoods by eliminating open space and replacing it with inappropriate, high-density, traffic-and-crime producing housing?

  5. anon.

    It’s not the MTD that advocates high density, but Davis’s CEC and the SBCAN, led by people living in the upper East.

    Interesting juxtaposition the two articles, this one on Bungalow Haven, and the Byrne one on the lower East Side, proposed site of high density housing, already with too little open space, and one too much trashed with graffiti and other gang markers. Thank you, SBView, for both stories.

  6. Bill Carson

    Wrong anon. It’s Dave Davis and the MTD property on Calle Real near Turnpike. That open-space has a high-density target on it, and Dave is setting his sights.

  7. HomeSweetHome

    Just because Micky Flacks who heads the high-density SantaBarbara4All group and lives in the Upper East, it does not mean any other folks living in this part of town want it too. Just the opposite. Planning Commissioner Charmaine Jacobs and Councilperson Dale Francisco also live in the Upper East, but don’t think they want to pack more people into town either.

    You make a good point however, only those living in the actual neighborhood should demand increased density if this is what they want. It should never be inflicted upon them by those living outside the neighborhood.

  8. Bill Carson

    Dave Davis + MTD = MTD property on Calle Real near Turnpike. Beautiful open space, soon to be lost forever to high-density, high-adverse-impact, housing. Thanks Dave.

    • anon.

      Apologies, Bill Carson: my concentration was on the City, not the County Noleta. And as for the Upper East, of course, not all residents there favor high density. Nor do all Lower East residents favor lower density. Indeed, the neighborhoods should be surveyed with questions about how they want to evolve. This was not done for the Lower East for the many years of the General Plan Update.

      It’s rather ironic that the Milpas area is scheduled for high density, pushed by Bendy White as well as SBCAN, even as the neighborhood supermarket, Scolaris, leaves, with the locals, many of whom depend on public transit, having easily accessible only smaller stores with the inevitable higher prices for lesser quantities.

  9. HomeSweetHome

    Why is Bendy White pushing higher density housing? I thought he was a conservative and a city protectionist. At least that is what he said when he got our votes last time. He now just became a one term council member, not that we noticed him doing anything of merit so far. Odd his belated public debut is to make Santa Barbara, not Santa Barbara.