Sue De Lapa

$2 Mil Home Prices?: With the median Santa Barbara home price tag at $1 million-plus, how long will it take to hit the $2 million mark?

Six to nine years, predicts frequent op-ed writer Lanny Ebenstein, who takes great interest in such things.

“If the world economy is at a pace to double in the next decade, how can what is arguably the most desirable place in the world not continue to increase in value, especially since, as a result of the Internet, people can live anywhere?

“To be sure, there will always be short-term ups and downs. But it seems likely that even in the next 12 to 18 months – barring another terrorist attack or similar event – the course of Santa Barbara real estate prices will resume their upward trend.”

Lanny was reacting to my column about the mind-boggling prices being paid for Montecito real estate. Unthinkable as it may seem, I have a hunch that the Day of Two Million may come even sooner than Lanny predicts.

On the other hand, Sue and I spent last week high in the White Mountains of Arizona, in a gorgeous forest, riding horses and doing our best to photograph the elk, which are now in rutting season, causing the males to sound their bizarre bugling calls at night. Back home and on an errand in downtown Santa Barbara on Sunday, we found it a noisy, unkempt zoo, full of tourists who seem to think they can behave like loud, naughty high school kids.

I enjoy our downtown and have written about it being named one of California’s best, and I know the cash registers were ringing, but on this Sunday in particular we longed for the wide open spaces. Will the State Street clamor slow down the race to $2 million?

Kitty Targeting Oprah?: According to Vanity Fair, “Kitty Kelley, author of the controversial, unauthorized biographies of Frank Sinatra, the Bush family, and Nancy Reagan, announced at the end of 2006 that Oprah, 53, will be the subject of her next book.” The part-time Santa Barbara billionaire fell from ninth place last year to 14th in the magazine’s new list of 100 top establishment figures. No. 1 in the power rating was media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

White Against the Blue: Boaters returning from a Nature Conservancy event at Santa Cruz Island Saturday not only spotted that dead blue whale floating in the channel, but the giant white shark that was making leaping slashes at the corpse.

Dear Dario: “Stop hassling Dario Pino,” demanded caller Steve. The much-maligned landlord does so much good for needy people, Steve claimed, overlooking all the trouble Dario gets into with officials in Santa Barbara, Ventura County, and elsewhere for lack of permits and other issues. Steve also praised Dario for helping owners of the 76 station at Milpas and Montecito Streets after the oil company jerked out the pumps a few years ago. But the Jimenez family remained in business, doing repair work and they’ve told me that Dario, who owns the property, is an excellent landlord to them.

Doctor’s a Paparazzo: If you wonder what doctors do when they leave Santa Barbara, former Samsun-Santa Barbara Medical Foundation Clinic cardiologist David Welton tells me that he’s joined the great brotherhood and sisterhood of unpaid or underpaid journalists. “I am now a newspaperman,” David reports. He’s a photog stringer for the twice-weekly South Whidbey Record, up in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, he’s wisely not quitting his day job as professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “I am helping to establish an outpatient cardiology referral center in northern King County. I commute on the Mukilteo ferry. Dewey Schurman [the former News-Press city editor] lives nearby. Unpaid is pretty close to the truth, but at this point in my life, with retirement close at hand, I just want to have fun. 1. You are never too old for a happy childhood. 2. You are only young once, but you can be immature forever.”

Beautiful Book: Joan Tapper, former editor of Islands Magazine, and photographer Nik Wheeler will be signing copies of their forthcoming book, Most Beautiful Villages and Towns of California at Tecolote Books in Montecito on Tuesday, September 25, between 5 and 7 p.m. There’ll be wine and cheese. They’ll also be signing copies at Chaucer’s Books on Sunday, September 30 at 3 p.m.

Barney Brantingham can be reached via email at or by phone at 805-965-5205. He writes online columns on Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column on Thursdays.


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