Good Vibrations on the Mesa

Take a look at these iconic Mesa surfside pads

The Love Compound | Credit: Craig Richter

I love the quintessentially Santa Barbara approach as one drives down Mesa Lane toward the beach. Eucalyptus trees stand in a row along the center median, and surfers beeline toward the beach with boards under their arms while dog walkers leisurely stroll in the same direction. The closer you get to the Steps at Mesa Lane, the less likely you’ll find a parking spot, especially when the sun is out or the surf is up. But it’s all good.

The only thing that could make this scene more stereotypically Santa Barbara would be a Beach Boys tune playing in the background, and maybe the smell of suntan lotion wafting on the breeze.

I didn’t smell Coppertone last week when I visited the property for sale at 101 Mesa Lane, but I sure heard Beach Boys songs playing in my head. 101 Mesa Lane is a magical estate once owned by Mike Love of the Beach Boys. With over two hundred feet of private oceanfront bluff top, and over two-and-a-half acres of coastline, there is literally nothing else like it.

The balcony at Love Cottage

Still affectionately referred to as the Love Compound, the enclave was purportedly sold in the 1990s to a group of friends on a handshake deal, making the current listing the first time that it has ever been officially on the market. 

The history of the property stretches back farther than Mike Love’s first “Surfin’ Safari.” In the 1920s, it was the site of a girls’ summer camp. In Julia Childs’s autobiography, she mentions spending three summers at the camp and reminisces about pancake-eating contests at the camp run by “Aunt Sally” Leadbetter. Today, one of the cottages, known as the Love Cottage, has a large living room with brick walls and vaulted ceilings that reportedly was originally the camp’s dining hall.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the sale of this storied enclave contains twists and turns as well. Interested buyers can buy the entire property outright, with an asking price of $14,950,000. Also available are two options to purchase an undivided interest under a Tenancy in Common arrangement. Under these options, buyers are able to occupy one or more of the cottages, depending which option they pursue. These entail either a 43 percent ownership with a price tag of $6,407,000, or a 14 percent ownership at $2,136,000. 

There are five cottages in the Love Compound, plus auxiliary buildings that serve as guest quarters, a music studio, and a workshop. The cottages are called the Tranquility, Love, Joy, Serenity, and Bliss Cottages. Smirk at the hippie-dippie names if you must, but visit this enclave, and you’ll feel the magic and scoff no more. 

Rooftop view decks, twisting staircases, sweet little patios, an outdoor shower, and meandering pathways throughout the grounds are just a few of the touches sure to charm any visitor. But it’s the splendor of the wide-open ocean view, plus the hot tub perched on a deck at the cliff’s edge, and the serenity that comes from soaking it all in that make this homestead unique.

Dinning at Tranquility Cottage

As I rambled from one cottage to the next, I decided not to try to catalog every feature of each one of the houses. However, a few stand-out impressions include the living and dining room area in the Tranquility Cottage. The unobstructed view out its wall of windows, over a wooden patio to the grassy bluff and the ocean beyond, literally took my breath away. 

Likewise, the beach-facing deck on the second story of the Love Cottage. With a stairway so narrow only one person can ascend at a time, once upstairs, the deck feels like being in a treehouse on a boat, navigating the open sea.

The rock pathway and succulent garden between the Serenity Cottage and the Bliss Cottage was another highlight. And the fact that the Joy Cottage was originally built as Mike Love’s music studio holds its own mystique. While these details do impress, no recounting of their parts could hold a candle to their overall appeal. 

The 43 percent ownership option includes exclusive rights to the Love Cottage, Joy Cottage, guest apartment, and music studio, along with shared access to the rest of the grounds. The 14 percent ownership includes rights to the Bliss Cottage, plus the same access and amenities as the other owners.

Tranquility Cottage

As I headed back to reality, I felt glad for the opportunity to visit this magical place. I don’t need to live on the Love Compound; I can admire almost the same view as I walk down the Steps at Mesa Lane. But I still couldn’t help but do the math in my head. I wondered if there was a .5 percent ownership option that might let me have access to the gate code and perhaps a dip in the hot tub once in a while. I daydreamed as I walked down the steps, and I realized the Beach Boys tune running through my head was “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?”

101 Mesa Lane is listed by the Zia Group of Keller Williams Realty. Reach Daniel Zia at 805-456-3635 or For more photos and information on this property, visit


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