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more articles like this

Small Town SB
updated: Jan 18, 2014, 4:30 PM

By Greg

In what way is Santa Barbara a small town?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 486862 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 04:31 PM

Everyone is connected by 1 degree of separation.


 COMMENT 486863 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 04:39 PM

Almost zero industry.


 COMMENT 486866 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 04:51 PM

Just out of curiosity, why do people think that a city with a population of 89,639 is a "small town"? Santa Monica has 91,812 people, just 2,173 more people, and it's not a small town. It's a city.


 COMMENT 486867 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 04:52 PM

Santa Barbara is a provincial town tightly run by provincial people and never grew to it's potential.


 COMMENT 486868 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 04:54 PM

One freeway.


 COMMENT 486870 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 04:59 PM

Small town thinkers.


 COMMENT 486871 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 04:59 PM

People cry about all kinds off small things.


 COMMENT 486875P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 05:05 PM

@862 hit it on the head. When you meet someone new, it takes no time at all to find people you know in common. This is true especially if you have kids -- they all do the same extra curricular activities from a very young age, and since we have only 3 public high schools, everybody ends up knowing everybody else from somewhere.


 COMMENT 486877 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 05:07 PM



 COMMENT 486880P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 05:10 PM

It's on the verge of NOT being a small town due to unsustainable over-development and outside investors buying up the place. Unless we slow down expansion and focus on redeveloping what's here, it will join greedy Goleta in becoming a giant rental property, big box mall and business park - just another boring extension of L.A. Montecito will be the last bastion of small town feel because the elites will protect themselves.


 COMMENT 486881 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 05:13 PM

It's a small town in that if you've lived here for any time at all, you can't go anywhere locally without running into someone you know, whether it be at Costco, the recycling center, the movies, Monday trivia night at the Uptown Lounge, or jury duty. Anonymity is hard to achieve in SB. A co-worker will ask you how you enjoyed lunch at Harry's Plaza after seeing your car parked in front and knowing you wouldn't be hanging around at neighboring Chaucer's at that time of day. This kind of thing happens all the time here, which is one of the reasons I've never moved away.

Until all the major State Street stores were replaced by yogurt shops and t-shirt stores, downtown was even more "small town." You literally couldn't walk a block on State Street without running into at least a couple of friends or acquaintances.


 REDTOP agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 05:22 PM

Santa Barbara is a small town because I know the name of my letter carrier and she gives me a shout-out when I have mail. Love it!


 COMMENT 486894 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 06:06 PM

One freeway that is rarely stop and go.


 COMMENT 486895P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 06:09 PM

I always wonder how people can risk having an affair in this town. Everyone knows everyone.


 COMMENT 486896 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 06:10 PM

Lol to those who claim santa barbara is growing too fast- the 2010 Census for SB and the whole South Coast showed a decline in population


 COMMENT 486901P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 06:23 PM

It's a small town if you can claim a thread similar to mine...
My great grandparents arrived before 1900 and my children are fifth-generation family members to reside here. . . Invariably one of us will have a pretty good memory of local history and quite a few recollections of residents past and present.

It was the luck of the draw and we feel blessed.


 COMMENT 486909P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 06:43 PM

So true, Rex -- it happened at the car wash today!


 COMMENT 486913 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 06:59 PM

I grew up here and I can go out and never see anyone I know, too many college students and tourists, not enough locals. It truly is rare for me to see people that I grew up with when out and about. Not sure where people get the idea it's a small town...


 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 07:23 PM

862 nailed it and REX , et.al. expanded on his riff. Living here for 65 years, I always know somebody's children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and in-laws from as far back as you can imagine. I love the comment about knowing the letter carrier.


 COMMENT 486937 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 07:46 PM

It's still a relatively small town guess but miss the old days when less people/development and was more of a sleepy small beach town with two lane highway and stop light at State and 101. Was way more local I would say 25 years ago and more.


 COMMENT 486946 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 08:05 PM

ditto 862 & rex. also it's only 3 miles wide. :-)


 COMMENT 486952 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 08:29 PM

I can walk or bike to nearly everything; people are friendlier/happier/less stressed; perfect size in my book.


 COMMENT 486953 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 08:48 PM

Small in size only. Tourists and overbuilding have turned SB into Coney Island. No more small town charm.


 COMMENT 486966P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 10:08 PM

901P, it's a small town if you moved here from a big town. It has nothing to do with how long you've lived here.


 COMMENT 486968P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-18 10:17 PM

When I moved here in the late 1980s, what struck me was the anti-gay remarks I heard in the workplace. And my company didn't seem anxious to improve its product or attract new customers. Sort of an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude. I found that very small town. I'm retired now, and what I find most appealing is seeing people I know -- and people I don't know but have seen on TV or the Internet -- at various places around town. I seem to find some connection every place I go.


 COMMENT 486976P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 12:16 AM

Small town in that my kindergarten teacher (from '50s) will call out to me, using my first name. Small town in that I have heard people yakking about my pals, while standing in line at supermarket or working out at the gym. Small town in that my Bank Manager knows me well and we can talk about his kids and cats. Small town in that, on any given day, I can run into someone I haven't seen in years. Small town in that you can ride or walk or bike anywhere----without having to use Hwy 101. Small town in that if your neighbors don't happen to see you outside for three days in a row, they think you left town. Small town in that we kind of look out for each other, are more polite and all know we have it made, living here in THE BEST PLACE on the planet. (To any out of towners reading this: Oops. I think I just felt a tremor.)


 EZ2 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 06:33 AM

It only takes 10 minutes to get form one side of town to the other(or less)


 COMMENT 486986 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 07:53 AM

Hattie: Botanic Garden to Shoreline Park is 5.8 miles. Still not a very wide town.


 SDP agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 08:04 AM

If I walk down the street, people smile and say 'hello'.


 COMMENT 487004 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 08:56 AM

As REX points out, it is the people not necessarily the number of population or the physical size of the City. It is meeting people you know, or just seeing them from time to time. Something that is rare in bigger cities. Sadly it is also the obituaries when the paper publishes the pictures of the deceased and even if you did not know them personaly or did not necessarily go school with them, etc. you recognize them because you have seen them around somewhere. Santa Barbara's population is nowhere near as transient as most cities because people who live here want to stay here and find a way to do so even sacraficing their standard of living at times in order to be able to stay here, often for generations.


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:02 AM

Rex and a few others explained beautifully why SB is a small town. For one thing, some of us have been here for many generations, can't help but make connections. In 1984, local historian Russell Ruiz told me 1/3 of the residents were descended from the Presidio soldiers; the settlers had maybe 11-14 kids, and they in turn did the same; didn't take long for the population to grow and many of the families are still here. Tom Storke (News-Press) and his cousin, Bill Luton, Sn (started KEY-T) were descended from the 1st Commandante of the Presidio. Our community just isn't as mobile as some, hence, small town.


 COMMENT 487029 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:14 AM

I think 004 just hit it--the reason we know so many people here is because Santa Barbarans just aren't a transient population and we're usually here for life. I still run into people with whom I went to elementary school in the 1950s, and also older folks who were friends of my family, some now well into their 80s. (I think Santa Barbarans have a longer shelf life than people in other communities).

Son #1 lived in New England for several years before moving back here two years ago. During his time back east he came here for a visit. One day we went to the Mesa Cafe and a couple of other places, all of where we happened upon people we knew. "Has it always been like this here?" he asked. And now that he's back, he's rediscovered that everyone seemingly really DOES know everyone else. Or their brother. Or their gardener. Or someone.

I guess this is how we know it's a small town: don't do anything publicly that you wouldn't want people knowing about, because the chances are high that someone you know will see you and probably talk about it.


 COMMENT 487032P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:19 AM

...somewhat geographically isolated, one way in and one way out to go any distance north or south. It takes effort to get here and effort to go elsewhere.


 COMMENT 487034 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:20 AM

Flicka: I had no idea T.M. Storke and Bill Luton were cousins. Learning information like this on a site like Edhat is yet another example that this is a small town.


 MESARATS agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:23 AM

I leaned via edhat that Roger and I worked at the same resturant about the same time over 30 years ago. My guy also worked there as a kid. One of my tenants had her dad help her move Found out he lived in the same house and same room when he was in his 20's.
In addition to running into people in town, you constantly run into people in Ohau and Costa Rica. My mother has run into ex students in Mexico, Europe and snorkeling somewhere in the Galapos. You can tell the time by the sound of the Venico boats and also who is going to work (fishing), without getting out of bed. Even if you move away and come back it is like you never left. As others said, it is hard to be anonymous. The plus side is that you always end up hearing about stuff, good and bad that is not made public. The coconut wire is pretty stong. Going to Home Depot feels like a out of town trip. RE 95P. The saying is, "Take you spouse to Pismo, have your affair in Cambria".
Santa Barbara really has duel personalities. The small town reflected in the anecdotes as mentioned, but also the new and improved overbuilt, gentrified, people putting their nose in everyone's business town. It's like a parallel universe. I find myself living in both


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:30 AM

REX, Another cousin of theirs was Katherine Hammond, daughter-in-law of (Bonnymede) Esther Hammond. I think at one time you mentioned you knew the Hammond kids, George, Susie and Seth, they too are descendents (about 9th generation) of the 1st Commandante, and Luton's & Storke's cousins. There are lots of surprising "cousins" here.


 COMMENT 487051 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:41 AM

Poorly structured traffic flow will keep Santa Barbara from ever really growing much; the real growth is happening in County and City of Goleta outside SB City jurisdiction.


 COMMENT 487052 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:42 AM

I'll occasionally see the same person around town whom I've never had any communication with but recognize them from 20 years ago. I should make an effort to say hello next time.


 COMMENT 487061 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 11:01 AM

Flicka, I think I knew about the Hammond history, but not that they were related to T.M. I feel kind of gypped because my relatives are relative newcomers, arriving here in the very early 1900s. To demonstrate how new my family is to this area, there's not a single street, park, landmark or airport terminal named after any of them. :(


 COMMENT 487066 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 11:08 AM

I agree with just about everyone in this thread...I'm always amazed at the number of ways I'm connected to the random person met on the street.

What perplexes me is that although I have lived here for 18 years and have been a Costco member since they first opened here, I can count on one hand the number of people that I have run into in Costco that I know.


 BONNER agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 11:08 AM

Having moved here from the "City" of Santa Monica 10 years ago, which is a lovely town, but has no comparison to SM because of population. In SM the downtown area is all tourism (like here) and the residential areas are bordered by all the other cities, there's no space in between as there is in SB. I live in Noleta and when people complain about traffic or say "do you want to meet half way instead of driving all the way into SB" I laugh as to only spend 8 min. getting to one place or the other, few minutes longer for tie-ups, is amazing. With mountains as backdrop, oceans and open spaces, agriculture nearby, and an architecturally beautiful downtown that's vigilantly protected by ardent residents, I love showing off to visitors, never felt luckier. It's taken 10 years of volunteering but I now run into so many connections everywhere that it feels like a small town. And love the history and multi-generational families still living here!!!


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 11:09 AM

REX, I too feel like a newcomer; family came in 1894 and 1903. However, I get a kick out of people who have been here 20 years and think they are natives.


 COMMENT 487077P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 11:34 AM

It is nearly impossible to find a new person to date who has not also dated someone you know... ;-)


 BONNER agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 11:37 AM

Forgot to mention important "small town" feature and that's Edhat!! I've learned about so many people, businesses, and history shared on the "Edhat community" that I feel connected even if I never meet in person. Could not say that in majority of urban communities at all. We're very fortunate here.


 COMMENT 487088 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 11:58 AM

The locals think they're entitled to some sort of respect or recognition (very small town)

EdHat is like the church party line... (very small town)

Other than that, its not a small town. No where near a small town. Unless you've never actually lived in a small town. Small towns dont have massive chain stores lining thir main st. They dont have airports that with one stop take you anywhere in the world and they certainly dont have police forces who kill more people than the people do...


 COMMENT 487095 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 12:10 PM

SB I think is a good combo it has community involvement and charm of a small town and all the amenities of a bigger city.


 COMMENT 487110 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 12:50 PM

It used to be a "small town" when I first moved here in the early 70's, but I feel it has lost it's appeal as to why so many of us loved it in the early days. There was no waiting in the parking lots, neighbors talked to each other, there was a city council that was for "limited growth", unlike now where every corner can be found a new condo complex popping up. I still love our city, but I definately don't consider it a small town anymore. I guess everything is relative depending where you came from..


 COMMENT 487135 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 02:25 PM

In some ways, SB is still very small. There really isn't a town drunk, so we all take turns. And the reason we don't use our turn signals is because everybody knows where we're going.


 COMMENT 487139 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 02:30 PM

I spent a number of years living in a country that was so small that mail from the USA addressed with only my first initial and last name (no PO Box number or city) got through to me anyway. Took an extra week or two, but got to me anyway.

My aunts and uncles lived (actually, one set still do) live in sight of the Manhattan sky line in a small town where the mail gets through to them with only their names and township name on the envelope. And the mail man teases me about not remembering the name of their street a year later when I am out for a holiday visit. That's a small town. Santa Barbra is a medium/small city.


 COMMENT 487147 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 02:51 PM

Motorists can be "small town" polite here, compared with many other towns. Today I went to the 99 Cent Store on Haley Street. There are very few parking spaces in that lot, however the people waiting for spaces have worked it out. You sit in the lot as other cars accrue behind you. Then when someone leaves, the car in front gets the space. Then everyone moves up and waits for someone else to leave. No horns, no yelling, no hostility. Most of the drivers have been to that lot before and know how the game is played. I'm sure that occasionally someone will try to butt in, but I've never seen this happen.

Then there's that peculiar intersection on Coast Village Road where a whole bunch of streets come together at a series of confusing stop signs at Olive Mill Road in front of the Montecito Inn. NO ONE fights for right-of-way there. "Go ahead," one stopped motorist will beckon to another. "No, it's YOUR turn," the other driver will indicate. This series of intersections is a setting for an accident waiting to happen, but I've never even seen a close call there, because everyone behaves and acts civilized.

Unfortunately, there are the parking lots at Five Points, all the TJs and Cost Plus, where the driver of that Prius will jump out and threaten you if s/he thinks you're going to usurp their staked-out space, but I usually try to shop at those places in the early morning hours, before everyone's caffeine has kicked in.


 COMMENT 487154 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 03:29 PM

I have a buddy who's lived here since the mid eighties who is rather extroverted and social. Literally every time I go somewhere with him in town he runs into at least one person he knows. It's a small town by any definition.


 COMMENT 487156 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 03:34 PM

I remember when the city sign said 35,000 population. It's more like 300000 now with 15 people to a household and all the want to bee's. That's why I moved to a town of 10,000 now that's a small town


 COMMENT 487162 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 04:13 PM

I grew up in a small town in VA (pop: 9) and I consider SB a small town. I consider any town where I can walk up a hill and see my entire town below me is a "small town"
I can and do that here all the time.
And yes, that town in VA is pop: 9 ( not 9000, not 900, not 90...etc.)


 COMMENT 487222P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 08:45 PM

One reason i prefer not to patronize Samsun at Las Pesetas - one sees too many people from the past.
Small town feeling, yes.


 MESARATS agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:32 PM

RE 162. Good point.
RE 77P. True, but at least you can get a personal reference or a No way dude she is crazy, or hey that guy is married. Better than yelp


 COMMENT 487237 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:33 PM

Even though we've got a metropolitan area (SB/Goleta/Carp) of well in excess of 100,000, consider this: In the South Coast we cannot buy the following automobiles, since there are no dealerships:


We cannot shop at the following stores, since there are none:

Big Lots.
Pep Boys.
Fry's Electronics.

We cannot eat at the following restaurants or other food places, since, again, there are none:

Del Taco.
Dairy Queen.
Popeye's Chicken.
Wiener Schnitzel.
Burger King.
Krispy Kreme.
Olive Garden.
Macaroni Grill.

We can no longer watch teevee police chases on Channel 5 or stay in touch with Los Angeles via Channels 2, 4, 7 ,9, 11 and 13, as we did before we were told by the FCC that we were outside the Los Angeles TV viewing area.

Santa Barbara really IS an island. The only difference between SB and Honolulu is that in SB we can simply drive off our island when we start getting rock fever.

I'd kill to have a Bob's Big Boy back, however.


 COMMENT 487238 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-19 10:35 PM

Sometimes I really hate Edhat. Despite careful punctuation, the end result wound up as above.


 COMMENT 487500P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-20 04:02 PM

There's a kind of comfort here that's like living in a small town - relatively stable, people a few degrees of separation from each other, a relatively slacked pace, few of the uber ambitious neurotics a big city can have.


 COMMENT 487573P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-20 07:44 PM

In the big picture of places to live, Santa Barbara is relatively easy to get around.


 COMMENT 487610P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-20 11:30 PM

If you've been here a while, during the course of a day you are sure to encounter someone you know or have seen many times.


 COMMENT 487914P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-21 05:10 PM

One of my friends said it's a small town because you can walk down the street and about on every block there's someone he's slept with.


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