Cristal's Blog


April 4, 2024

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Nestled amidst the sun-kissed shores of California's Central Coast lies the Santa Barbara Airport (SBA), a gem of travel convenience and coastal charm. As a gateway to the world, this quaint yet bustling airport embodies the spirit of Santa Barbara itself—where Mediterranean-inspired weather, stunning architecture, and a healthy lifestyle converge to create an irresistible allure for visitors and locals alike. And SBA is continually evolving to provide the ideal hub for adventurers, blending its storied past, contemporary amenities, and seamless travel experiences.

The words Pero Soleil VIP Concierge Service on top of an image of the Santa Barbara airport looking up into the blue Santa Barbara sky with palm trees.

#SantaBarbaraAirport #TravelGateway #GlobalAdventure

As the 13th largest airport in California, SBA typically serves more than a million passengers every year. Known as the gateway to the American Rivera, SBA now takes convenience to new heights with its new Perq Soleil's VIP Service. This exclusive offering includes a curb-to-gate escort, streamlined check-in, luggage assistance, and expedited TSA processing, ensuring guests receive first-class treatment with reduced wait times. Plus, Perq Soleil provides a convenient luggage delivery service for arriving passengers. ✈️

An image of the front of the Santa Barbara Airport with the tidy landscaping and a blue sky.

Airport of Choice

The airport's mission for the future is to remain the Tri-County region's "Airport of Choice." Toward that goal, SBA includes a 60,000-square-foot terminal added to the original 7,000-square-foot historical one.

With 23 daily nonstop flights offered by top carriers like Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines, connecting to 12 major destination hubs, the possibilities are endless. That means your gateway to global adventures starts right in your own backyard.

The Airport Terminal Project

The freshly inaugurated Airline Terminal debuted on August 18th, 2011, marking the completion of a $63 million endeavor. This comprehensive project encompasses various components such as a state-of-the-art aircraft parking ramp, a modern airline terminal building complete with site preparation and soil stabilization, as well as the relocation and refurbishment of the 1942 segment of the pre-existing terminal. Additionally, a brand new short-term parking lot and roadway were constructed as part of this initiative.

Sustainable design was one of the top priorities for the Airline Terminal Project. Toward that goal, the terminal is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the nationally recognized benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

An image of a passenger airplane on the runway with the CA state bear and a red star on the side.

SBA’s Rich History

The story of SBA is a testament to the evolution of aviation in the region, dating back to its humble beginnings in 1914. It all began when Lincoln Beachey made history by flying an airplane across the Goleta Valley—an event that marked the dawn of aviation in Santa Barbara.

Two years later, the visionary Loughead brothers, later known as the Lockheed brothers, established a seaplane factory on State Street. Their pioneering spirit led them to construct a wooden ramp on West Beach, providing a launching pad for their aircraft and laying the groundwork for Santa Barbara's aviation industry.

Flying Into the 1920s

In 1928, Gordon Sackett and Royce Stetson etched their names into the annals of history by landing a Hisso-powered airplane in a cow pasture near the intersection of Hollister and Fairview Avenues. This historic moment not only marked the birth of the first airstrip in Santa Barbara but also signaled the emergence of the region as a hub for aviation education and innovation.

Airstrip to Airfield

As the demand for aircraft grew in the late 1930s, Santa Barbara's modest airstrip blossomed into a thriving airfield. Companies like Western General seized the opportunity to set up shop, producing Meteor airplanes that would go on to serve both military and civilian purposes. Meanwhile, Frederick Stearns II, founder of Santa Barbara Airways, played a pivotal role in expanding the airport's infrastructure. Under his stewardship, two additional runways and two large hangars were constructed, while the installation of radio equipment heralded a new era of communication and navigation at the airfield.

The Advent of Commercial Service

The advent of commercial air travel further solidified Santa Barbara Airport's status as a vital transportation hub. In 1932, Pacific Seaboard Airlines launched commercial service, connecting Santa Barbara to destinations across the region. Four years later, United Airlines inaugurated service from Santa Barbara/Goleta, providing passengers with convenient access to domestic and international destinations.

Santa Barbara Airport Takes Flight

In 1941, amidst the backdrop of World War II, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the construction of the modern-day Santa Barbara Airport. Architectural luminaries William Edwards and Joseph Plunkett were tasked with designing the terminal building, drawing inspiration from the region's Spanish colonial heritage. The resulting Spanish-style terminal not only reflected the architectural aesthetics of Santa Barbara but also served as a beacon of hospitality and warmth for travelers passing through its gates.

From the turbulent years of World War II to the present day, Santa Barbara Airport has journeyed through a remarkable evolution, mirroring the shifts in aviation and the broader historical context. During World War II, the airport was pivotal in supporting military operations. Its strategic location on the West Coast made it a vital base for military aircraft, which departed from its runways to join the fight overseas. This period marked a significant chapter in the airport's history, showcasing its adaptability and resilience in times of crisis.

Post-War Expansion

Following the conclusion of World War II, Santa Barbara Airport entered a new era of growth and expansion. With the rise of commercial air travel, the airport experienced a surge in passenger traffic and the introduction of new airline services. The airport underwent extensive modernization efforts to meet the demands of this burgeoning industry. Upgrades to terminal buildings, runways, and air traffic control systems were implemented, enhancing efficiency and safety for travelers.

As the 20th century progressed, Santa Barbara Airport continued to embrace technological advancements in aviation. The advent of jet aircraft and digital navigation systems transformed the aviation landscape, prompting the airport to adapt and evolve in response. These innovations paved the way for faster, more efficient air travel, further solidifying the airport's position as a vital regional transportation hub.

Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond

Santa Barbara Airport has shifted its focus towards sustainability and environmental stewardship that began with the Airport Terminal Project. The airport continues to implement a range of initiatives to minimize its environmental impact. This includes adopting energy-efficient lighting and waste reduction programs and integrating alternative energy sources like solar power. By prioritizing sustainability, the airport demonstrates its commitment to preserving the natural beauty of the Santa Barbara region for future generations.

Beyond infrastructure improvements and environmental initiatives, Santa Barbara Airport has also prioritized enhancing the passenger experience through renovations and improvements to terminal facilities. The airport now provides modern amenities and comfortable seating areas for travelers. Additionally, the airport has collaborated with local businesses, offering diverse dining, shopping, and entertainment options, ensuring a pleasant and convenient experience for passengers.

From its humble beginnings as a cow pasture airstrip to its current status as a bustling transportation hub, SBA continues to play a vital role in connecting communities and facilitating economic growth. As Santa Barbara's gateway to the world, SBA remains a symbol of progress, innovation, and the enduring spirit of flight.

With our idyllic Mediterranean climate, stunning beaches, captivating architecture, and vibrant lifestyle, it's no surprise that Santa Barbara Airport is becoming a preferred gateway for many. If you're considering making Santa Barbara your home, I invite you to explore my current listings. Thinking of selling your home? Let's chat! Reach me at (805) 886-9378 or via email at to discuss your needs, and together, we'll craft a winning strategy.

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    “It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

    - J & A

    “Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

    - M.F.

    “Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

    - P.B.

    “We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

    - T.C.

    “Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

    - D.R.

    “I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

    - M.A.

    “Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

    - D.K.

    “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