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Short & Sweet - Part II
updated: Jan 28, 2012, 9:30 AM

By the Urban Hikers, Stacey Wright & Peter Hartmann

This week we follow up with more of the shortest streets within the city limits of Santa Barbara, showing each of the "qualifying shorties" suggested by Edhat readers. Many of the one-block or less streets are avenues, some are lanes and others are streets. We've got a couple of plazas, one place and one way. We've even got a road that appears to be a two-block street, but it's not. Some of the streets readers suggested we include, but didn't are too long to be a "shortie"; and one is outside the city limits. The ‘too long" streets (albeit short nevertheless) are: Colina, Wyola, Orella, De La Vista, Villa and Soledad. Ukiah is outside the city limits, so we didn't walk that one. Many of the "shorties" from last week's story and this week's are on the Eastside and Westside, above Anapamu Street. We've included them on this map.

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We'll start by telling you about all of the Avenues...it seems ironic that the highest percentage of shortest streets in town are Avenues, because for us an avenue conjures up a broad dignified roadway …we're still so puzzled by that.

For each of the "shorties" we share with you here we'll show you a view of the entire street, and at least one image of something unique we found along the street.

We begin with Ruth Avenue, or "Baby Ruth" as was suggested. This was the street where most everyone practiced their "3-point turns" with driving instructors in preparation of taking the DMV driving test. For the sake of residents on Ruth, we hope there are other streets that instructors now take their pupils to to learn this valuable driving skill.

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Persidio Avenue - As suggested, it most likely is the oldest "shortie" in town. It's a beauty for sure.

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This is American Avenue and its nearby "shortie" neighbor, Wellington Ave. Both are lined with very quaint homes.

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Equestrian Avenue is another old street that reportedly got its name for the fact that it was home to a livery stable back before automobiles came to Santa Barbara.

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Morrison Avenue is a dead-end street. We loved the way the two homes at the end of the street are oriented, and how this home's driveway was situated.

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Donze Avenue is home to the marvelous tea cup/saucer/pottery sculptures. We love this house and its artistic resident. We also wonder how the street got its unusual name…

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And since we were in the neighborhood, we took it upon ourselves to add one of our own - Maple Avenue. It sounds so darn sweet…and it is.

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Mellifont Avenue is one of our Lower Eastside "shorties". We think these trees are pretty special, and we couldn't resist showing you the misspelled sidewalk contactor stamp we spotted.

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Next are the lanes...we have two of them to tell you about. We'll begin with Rossier Lane, which is just off Sate Street. We especially liked the little garden gate.

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And then there's Green Lane, which appears to have more green colored buildings than most streets…was it names for its buildings or were the building painted to match the name of the street...such critical issues we urban hikers must sometimes confront.

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We have but three short streets to tell you about. The first one, Sierra Street dead ends at Alameda Padre Serra. There is a little staircase that take you up to APS, and that is where the photo view of this street was taken. There's also a sweet little fountain at the end of the street that we couldn't resist sharing with you.

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Elizabeth Street is home to a very lazy little kitty. Long name, little street.

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Orena Street is another of the "shorties" that we've added to the story, and we did so because of a unique aspect of it we discovered along our journey. Despite being intersected by Cleveland Avenue, Orena Street has addresses that are all in the 500 block…both below Cleveland (where the street ends and the Roosevelt School playground begins), and above Cleveland where it meets Grand. Go figure…The stairs are a wonderful example of the kinds of street stairs that dot the Upper Eastside. They are at the corner of Orena and Cleveland.

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We got suggestions for two plaza "shorties" and both are simply lovely. Bonita Plaza is below Bonita Way and is home to a beautiful fountain and quaint little rest stop. We didn't have a chance to sit and ponder there, but some day we may have to return and sit for a spell.

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Our other beautiful plaza is Junipero Plaza. Lined with very stately homes, we noticed a plaque on this villa that tells about its historical significance. We love it when homeowners take the time to display informative plaques like these. What we learned is that this house, remodeled in 2009 by Mary and Rowland Hanson was originally the home of Franscisca De La Guerra Dibblee, the granddaughter of Don José de la Guerra, Commandante of the Royal Presidio. Built in 1910, architect Francis T. Underhill designed the home for Mrs. Dibblee, who happened to be his mother-in-law.

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Panchita Place is our only place "shortie". In a previous story (Bungalow Haven and Beyond) we showed you several of the wonderful bungalows that line this one-block street. It's truly a marvelous little street located in the heart of "Bungalow Haven". If you want to know more about it and the house on it, you're in luck, as we recently learned that several of the homes in "Bungalow Haven" (including a few on Panchita Place) will be showcased in the Pearl Chase Historic Homes Tour this May. We guess by the size of his stamp, that the sidewalk contractor was pretty proud of the work he did on this street…

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Last, but certainly not least, we have Bonita Way. And "bonita" it is. Beautiful and short.

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Many thanks to the Edhat readers and commenters who recommended we look at all but two of these short and sweet city streets. It was fun to go back and revisit the streets and it was exciting to hear what streets and neighborhoods pique your interests.

As always we encourage you to go out and explore the city, meet your neighbors, keep your eyes, ears and minds open to all that you encounter, and above all, expect the unexpected.

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

 COMMENT 252336 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-28 09:51 AM

What about Panarama off Paseo Del Descancso? It loooked like the Presidio Ave was spelled Pp on the tile?


 COMMENT 252365 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-28 02:08 PM

GREAT pictures, as always! You wouldn't believe how many delivery people, etc., couldn't find Rossier Lane when I lived there, despite the easy instruction of, "it's half a block from State Street, in the middle of the first block of East Islay."

Another downtown one-block-wonder I used to live on was Carmelita Avenue. I love this town!


 COMMENT 252404 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-28 06:19 PM

thanks for another delightful piece! there should be an urban hikers fan club for your fans to join. :-)
i just thought of another shortie for your collection: plaza rubio.


 COMMENT 252425 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-28 08:41 PM

than you urban hikers for the tour of otherwise unknown streets!!! i love that you have seen them all and show us only the best parts of each of the streets. I love your photos. good, clean entertainment.


 COMMENT 252444 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 06:08 AM

Lorinda WAY on the westside is another shortie


 COMMENT 252461 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 08:04 AM

That's my kitty on Elizabeth St. his name is Patch. He spends the day sleeping on my bed but just before 5pm he goes out front and waits for my wife to get home.


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 08:26 AM

Thank you for a delightful tour!


 SBALAX agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 08:33 AM

Thanks for another great story and for including two of my favorites -- Bonita and Sierra. The Sierra steps are part of my walk and although our driveway is on Bonita our address is APS. I believe there is only one house with a Bonita address. Plaza Rubio is two blocks long so doesn't make the cut.


 COMMENT 252481 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 09:01 AM

A few names:
Donze Ave - takes its name from Eugene Donze who owned most of the land flanking the street. He was an engraver by trade and came to SB around 1895 but changed trades to establish a dyeing and cleaning business. In 1912 he started a new business when he built the market at the corner of Olive and Victoria streets.

American Avenue - Named for the American Film Studio (the Flying A),a block away between State, Mission , Padre and Chapala. The studio also owned this empty (at the time) half block between Padre, Los Olivos and Chapala.

- Neal Graffy


 COMMENT 252486 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 09:21 AM

A sincere thanks for the follow up, Urban Hikers! I knew there would be more coming - Plaza Bonita has always been one of MY favorite short streets in town.


 COMMENT 252505 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 10:39 AM

Morrison Ave - Talk about timing! I met members of the Morrison family Wednesday night who told me the street was named from their family who had come to Santa Barbara around 1895. A quick search turned up the Thomas Morrison family living at 1428 Bath with Mr. Morrison's occupation being a farmer. Sitting here at home and pouring through my records I found no direct connection to the street, but possibly they owned the land. An eventual check of property records may yield the final clues.

Orena Street was named for the Orena family whose mansion used to occupy the site (and more) that is now Roosevelt School.

Almost always, these little streets are named for the families that owned the surrounding property. But finding out who they are is the fun part.

- Neal Graffy

P.S. Just a fun little Urban Hiker connection. My friends live at the "cat" house you shot on Elizabeth St. Their son's in-laws run the Victoria Market built by Mr. Donze.


 COMMENT 252517 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 11:20 AM

Great article!

Could you do a follow-up on some of the short streets that have disappeared? Fernald, Mora Villa, Calandria come to mind. I'm sure there are more.




 COMMENT 252519 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 11:28 AM

Thank you again, UHers, for taking us around SB, even if we must be at a distance.


 COMMENT 252539 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 02:29 PM

I'm with HOLAZOLA, if there is a street more beautiful than Bonita Plaza, I can't think of one...


 COMMENT 252581 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 07:41 PM

Here's one more for your next hike: Lloyd Ave., nestled between E. Anapamu-Garden and Figueroa-Laguna.


 COMMENT 252584 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 07:42 PM

I love it!! Santa Barbara has so many wonderful little streets. Was Plaza Rubio too long at 1 1/2 blocks? My favorite!!
Thank you so much for doing this!!!


 COMMENT 252594 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-29 08:43 PM

UH here - Thank you Neal for your always appreciated contributions to our understanding of the historical significance of our town. It seems that even the most humble little street has a rich and important history. How funny that we captured your friends' kitty, Patch. We liked the composition of the image - kitty, cute house and address with street name right at the door.and hey MORT - we'd do the "lost" streets but we're not sure where to find them! Neal? maybe you can shed some light here? and yes, sorry to say that Plaza Rubio is too long to show up as a "shortie", but who knows...we might start a new collections: gorgeous streets in the city...we'd have to do a ton of follow-ups though one we opened that door! And lastly, we love Lloyd. It's definitely a "shortie" and it's even in our "hood.


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