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Gentrifying Santa Barbara

If you’re reading this, then you most likely live in Santa Barbara. Living in this beautiful beach town comes with a lot of perks. Being wedged between the ocean and the mountains makes Santa Barbara the perfect vacation spot and getaway for people who don’t live here, and a permanent getaway for those who do. However, a picturesque place such as this comes at a price that not many can afford. 

For years, Santa Barbara has been filled with local shops, building a little community. But as more and more people have discovered our little paradise, the prices have been skyrocketing. Local business owners no longer have the means to keep up with the costs to run their business. Many locals have seen places like State Street and Milpas turn from familiar shops to big company run businesses. For instance, in April 2019, Santa Barbara got its very first Target. 

As the shops and restaurants’ prices have been skyrocketing, so have the housing prices. Only 20 years ago, the average Santa Barbara house, according to, a real estate agency, cost about $585,000, which is about $893,225 in 2020 US dollars. Whereas, according to, the average house is now $1.34 million. That is an increase of $446,775 in only 20 years. 

With more people discovering the beauty of Santa Barbara, we have seen a trend of celebrities slowly coming into our town. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner, Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jennifer Lopez are only a handful of those that have decided that Santa Barbara was the place for them. Although they live in our neighboring town, Montecito, it still affects all of Santa Barbara, as most people consider them merged. People see in articles where all A-list celebrities are moving, and they are automatically infatuated, drawing in more tourists and people wanting to move to the same city. If that weren’t enough for people to want to move or visit here, sure enough, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle buying their permanent home here could make this town an undeniable attraction to all. 

With all these new tourists and people moving here, the cycle of gentrification continues. The shops are closed down by big businesses, and more people are moving here, making the housing prices skyrocket, running out the locals who have lived here for decades because they can no longer afford to live in their homes. Now people look at our changing town and can’t help but wonder ’is Santa Barbara becoming the new Los Angeles?’


  • Naiya Molitor

    Naiya is a senior at Santa Barbara High School. She enjoys writing so she decided to join The Forge to better her writing skills and do something she enjoys. She also enjoys playing guitar, being with friends, and reading

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