FOR PURPOSES of city planning, Santa Barbara has designated three areas for the Mesa neighborhood: the Alta Mesa, the West Mesa and the East Mesa. Alta Mesa (meaning “high mesa”), is an area of about 651 acres, whose topography varies from rolling to steep. Except for the steep hills on its northern side zoned A-1 and A-2, Alta Mesa is almost entirely E-1 for public use commonly issuing permits for lot sizes of 15K square feet. This development trend eventually tapered down to smaller standard subdivisions with improved regulations on grading and lot sizes.
The Alta Mesa boundaries are the base of the steep hillside on the north, Cliff drive on the south, Loma Alta on the east, and the boundaries of Elings Park and Arroyo Burro on the west. The area has four parks (Hilda Ray, Escondido, La Coronilla and the Honda Valley Thornbury properties) and the two city reservoirs. The McKinley Elementary School is also located here.
West Mesa is approximately 344 acres bounded on the north by the existing development toward Cliff Drive, on the east by Meigs Road, on the south by the Pacific ocean and on the west by Arroyo Burro Beach Park. Similar to East Mesa, it has a density classification of five dwelling units per acre.
The area includes most of the Mesa Shopping Center and the multiple dwellings around it and the southern portion of Elings park, long known as Wilcox Property, now a county land called Douglas Family Preserve. The Monroe Elementary School is located here.
East Mesa covers about 383 acres bounded by the south edge of the hills on the north, Oceano Avenue on the east, the ocean on the south and Meigs Road on the west. Except for the multi-family areas of Barranca and Oceano Avenues, the area has mostly uniform small-lot, single family homes and five dwelling units to an acre density. A re-zoned area around the Shopping Center allowed 12-dwelling per acre, now zoned R-2 for duplexes and garden apartments. More re-zoning for multi-family dwellings are being considered along Cliff Drive.
Santa Barbara’s Quaint Little Village
by the Ocean
A strong Mediterranean ambiance pervades the lush verdant surroundings of the Mesa’s residential neighborhood along its shoreline and on its hillsides. Many of its original homes are distinctively beautiful cottages.
It has a modest business center with some 80 different retail/service establishments and professional offices at the crossroads of Meigs Road and Cliff Drive/Hwy 225, the scenic drive. Soon, the city will be taking over the state highway and the Mesa can realize some of its visions for its central area.
Within its 2.15-square-mile land area (of the city’s total 41.4 land and water) are: Santa Barbara City College, three elementary schools, a senior housing complex, two churches and a synagogue, a bank, a fire station, two Santa Barbara community shoreline parks, seven neighborhood parks including the southern portion of Elings, and the two city reservoirs. Atop TV hill is Santa Barbara’s prime television station, KEYT, Ch. 3.
The Mesa is host village to the U. S. Coast Guard Lighthouse, a city historical landmark that dates back to the 1800s. It has quick downtown access from both its north and east sides.
Shoreline Park, the thousand Steps, the Federal Lighthouse and La Mesa Park are found in East Mesa. Shoreline Drive and Highway 225, the scenic drives bring sightseers to the Mesa. The city’s foresight in preserving scenic and recreational areas for future generations keeps the oceanfront for public use, enjoyed by local residents and visitors alike.
Mesa Neighborhood Maps/Info Source: City of Santa Barbara website
For a more expedient street-level campaign, our Mesa Neighborhood has re-drawn the areas into quadrants with Cliff Drive and Meigs Road as boundaries referring to the hillsides north of Cliff as Alta and the oceanside south of Cliff as Baja.
The area east of Meigs are East Alta and East Baja and those West of it are West Alta and West Baja. Each quadrant is further subdivided into more manageable sections, such as, east and west of Flora Vista on West Alta. West Baja has three sections; East Alta, three; and East Baja, three. The business center is a distinct area by itself.