August 10, 2018
To: Santa Barbara County Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission
Re: Landmark Nomination of the Rancho San Carlos Estate
Citizens Planning Association is a nonprofit grassroots organization that has focused on countywide land use issues for more than 55 years. We advocate for the best standards of design and natural resource protection in order to maintain sustainable communities and protect the heritage of Santa Barbara County.
Since our original letter of support was submitted in 2017, we have learned even more about the significance of the Rancho San Carlos Estate as an architectural and historical gem in Montecito. Recent research shows the estate combined the talents of four nationally-known architects tasked with implementing the vision of their employers. Reginald Johnson designed the main house, the functional buildings for operation of the agricultural and equestrian estate, and worker housing for the Jacksons' large staff. Lockwood de Forest, Jr., Ralph Stevens, and Florence Yoch contributed the landscape plan and designs for the more intimate spaces surrounding the structures.
The Rancho San Carlos Estate creates a breathtaking vista that continues to exemplify the period of great estate building in Montecito long after other less-prominent examples have been demolished or irrevocably altered.
We strongly encourage the Commission to recognize the historic significance of the Rancho San Carlos Estate by designating it as a County of Santa Barbara Landmark. All of the experts who have studied the Estate agree that is of exceptional historic and architectural significance. The iconic views of the Estate from Ortega Ridge Road and East Valley Road have served as visual landmarks to the residents of Montecito for many years; it is time to recognize their importance to the community through formal action.
CPA is grateful to the Jackson family for its careful stewardship of the Estate. We hope that future purchasers, HLAC and the County will work together to ensure that future development is as carefully planned and controlled as the original design that inspired the Jacksons and their team of architects almost a century ago.
Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the Rancho San Carlos Estate nomination and its importance to both the past and the future of Santa Barbara County.
Mary Ellen Brooks and Betsy Cramer
Co-Presidents, Citizens Planning Association