Cristal's Blog

Hug a Santa Barbara Tree Today

August 28, 2019

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Image courtesy of The Santa Barbara Independent

Each Santa Barbara tree is an invaluable resource. Together, the city’s trees provide more than $2 million in annual benefits: from stormwater and carbon dioxide reduction to reduced energy costs. That’s why The community's Parks Division Forestry Program cares for over 23,000 street trees found here on the American Rivera. They include our Moreton Bay Fig Tree, believed to be the largest Ficus macrophylla in the United States. In fact, this particular type of tree is so popular, it has its own Instagram page.

READ: Ocean View Homes are Good for Our Health

History of Tree Admiration
There’s a good reason behind all the efforts put forth on behalf of the trees of Santa Barbara. Street trees add texture, color, and fragrance while providing shade, which prolongs the life of asphalt. But, the love and admiration of trees is not new. The European druids worshiped oaks; redwoods were a part of American Indian rituals; and Ancient Greeks, Romans, and scholars during the Middle Ages recognized trees in their literature. Then there are the Dryads and tree nymphs: tree spirits important characters in many ancient Greek myths.

Famous Original Tree Huggers
In more modern times, naturalist John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt became well known for valuing the wilderness, including trees. They established the modern conservation movement along with the National Park System and National Park Service.

More recently, Julia Butterfly Hill, an environmental activist, spent more than 2 years living in a 180-foot-tall, estimated 1,500-year-old California redwood tree to prevent loggers from cutting it -- as well as other old-growth redwoods -- down. Her book, The Legacy of Luna, is a classic among environmentalists.

Here are 8 reasons to love the trees of Santa Barbara. 

  • Trees Produce Oxygen
    Human life could not exist if there were no trees. A mature, leafy tree produces enough oxygen per season for 10 people. What many people don't realize is that the forest also acts as a giant filter that cleans the air we breathe. Trees help cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. They remove this air pollution by lowering air temperature, through respiration, and by retaining particulates.
  • Trees Clean the Soil
    The term phytoremediation is the scientific word for the absorption of dangerous chemicals and other pollutants that enter the soil. Trees can either store harmful pollutants or actually transform the pollutant into less harmful forms. Trees filter sewage and farm chemicals, reduce the effects of animal wastes, clean roadside spills, and provide a barrier from water runoff into our streams.
  • Trees Control Noise Pollution
    Trees muffle urban noise almost as effectively as stone walls. When planted at strategic points in a neighborhood or around your Santa Barbara home, trees can lessen the annoyance from major freeway and airport noise.
  • Trees Slow Storm Water Runoff
    Flash flooding is reduced by trees. When fully grown, one Colorado blue spruce, either planted or growing wild, can intercept more than 1000 gallons of water annually. Underground water-holding aquifers are recharged with this slowing down of water runoff. Recharged aquifers counter drought.
  • Trees Are Carbon Sinks
    To produce its food, a tree absorbs and locks away carbon dioxide in the wood, roots, and leaves. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas understood by a consensus of world scientists to be a major cause of global warming and climate change. A forest is a carbon storage area—or a sink—that can lock up as much carbon as it produces. This locking-up process stores carbon as wood so it does not infiltrate the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.
  • Trees Provide Shade and Cooling
    Trees are best known for producing shade, resulting in making Santa Barbara streets cooler in the summer. Studies have shown areas without cooling shade from trees can become heat islands, with temperatures as much as twelve degrees higher than surrounding areas.
  • Trees Act as Windbreaks
    During windy and cold seasons, trees located on the windward side act as windbreaks. A windbreak can lower home heating bills up to 30%. A reduction in wind can also reduce the drying effect on soil and vegetation behind the windbreak and help keep precious topsoil in place.
  • Trees Fight Soil Erosion
    Erosion control has always started with tree and grass planting projects. Tree roots bind the soil and their leaves break the force of wind and rain on soil. Trees fight soil erosion, conserve rainwater, and reduce water runoff and sediment deposit after storms.

Neighborhood Tree Planting Opportunities in Santa Barbara
The city welcomes working with community members in growing our urban forest. For many years, Forestry staff has coordinated tree planting opportunities for Santa Barbara residents interested in planting trees in street parkways. Community tree plantings typically focus on neighborhoods and involve youth, community groups, and other volunteers. If you are interested in a neighborhood planting project, call our Arborist at (805) 564-5433.

Now you know why people from all walks of life love the trees of Santa Barbara. It is so wonderful to live in a community that puts its precious resources toward important and invaluable assets like trees. If you’re looking to move in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, please call at 805.886.9378 or email me at I’ll happily add your listing to my portfolio of fine homes in the area and find your new dream home in one of our sun-kissed tree-lined communities. You’ll be able to plant your own Santa Barbara tree at your own Santa Barbara home.

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Client Reviews

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch