Source: Berkshire Hathaway

Prime Santa Barbara Coastline for $200 Million. No Development, Please

These 2,214 acres come with a potentially hefty catch.

Source: Berkshire Hathaway

Wanted: One billionaire conservationist for four miles of untouched Santa Barbara coastline. Needs $200 million and willingness to part with the most valuable element of the properties—their development rights.

That's the dream buyer of three adjacent ranches, totaling 2,214 acres just west of Santa Barbara, that have hit the market simultaneously. The listing agent is on the hunt for someone with the desire—and deep pockets—to preserve the historic coastline.

"It's a very small pool of buyers," said Jody Neal, a ranch and land specialist at Montecito-based brokerage Kerry Mormann & Associates, a division of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. "What we're looking for is that one person who can recognize the historic value and beauty of this place on its own."

A view of the $50 million Dos Pueblos ranch, with sandy beach and picturesque train trestle.
A view of the $50 million Dos Pueblos ranch, with sandy beach and picturesque train trestle.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway

Such a purchaser would ideally donate or sell conservation easements—effectively their development rights over the properties—to a conservation organization. According to Neal, the move would go a long way toward appeasing the local community, which has historically been voracious in its opposition to coastal developments.

The $108 million Las Varas ranch.
The $108 million Las Varas ranch.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway

Still, such a gift could represent as much as 60 percent of the value of the properties, according to Alex Size, Santa Barbara County program manager for the Trust for Public Land. Finding someone willing to spend $200 million on a property and then immediately forfeit $120 million of its value is a tough sell, even after accounting for the associated tax benefits of any such donation (and counting Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie among your grateful neighbors). 

No wonder then that the request for conservation isn't a deal breaker for the sellers, who will also listen to offers for each individual property. 

Views over the Pacific from South Naples ranch, with the Channel Islands National Park in the distance.
Views over the Pacific from South Naples ranch, with the Channel Islands National Park in the distance.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway

Closest to Santa Barbara lies South Naples, which is listed at $39.9 million. The coastal bluff top has no habitable structures, but thanks to the efforts of a 19th century developer who won a right to build a town there in 1888, its 200 level acres are legally ripe for development. Budding developers beware, however: The current owner, Standard Portfolios Asset Management, has long been stymied on that front because of local opposition.

Next comes the Dos Pueblos ranch (aka the Royal Ranco), where Santa Barbara was "discovered" in 1542 by Juan Cabrillo, the first European explorer to navigate the California coast. In 2009 the Schulte family listed it for $24 million and subsequently sold the roughly 2,000 acres of property that lay north of Highway 101. Now comes the rest (minus a small cutout that contains the birthplace of the California farmed orchid industry, still in use today).

The main abode was built in the 1920s and has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. Spread across the property's 214 acres, including unrestricted beach access, stand another eight homes, plus barns, trailers, and avocado trees. It also has a working abalone farm, for those with a taste for seafood. Yours for $50 million.

The main house of the Dos Pueblos ranch was built in the 1920s and has five bedrooms and seven baths.
The main house of the Dos Pueblos ranch was built in the 1920s and has five bedrooms and seven baths.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway

Furthest north lies Las Varas, which stretches over 1,800 acres and includes two miles of private unspoiled sandy beach, orchards, seven homes, and a lighted rodeo arena. A private lake overlooks the whole $108 million property, which is being sold by descendants of the California oil magnate Edward Laurence Doheny. Taken alone, it's one of the world's most expensive residential properties on the market now.

The combined $198 million asking price would be a record for the Central Coast, which saw a more remote 24,000-acre ranch with nine miles of coastline sell for $135 million in 2007. A 60-acre ranch just east of South Naples sold for $20 million that same year.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own some truly pristine California coastline," Neal said. "It's a time capsule."

Train tracks run through all three ranches. Here, Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner connects San Luis Obispo to San Diego.
Train tracks run through all three ranches. Here, Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner connects San Luis Obispo to San Diego.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
South Naples has no habitable structures, but its 200 acres are legally, if controversially, ripe for development.
South Naples has no habitable structures, but its 200 acres are legally, if controversially, ripe for development.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
A view of the Dos Pueblos ranch's beach.
A view of the Dos Pueblos ranch's beach.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
 The Las Varas ranch is being sold by heirs of the oil tycoon Edward Laurence Doheny. It has seven homes on the property, along with a private lake.
 The Las Varas ranch is being sold by heirs of the oil tycoon Edward Laurence Doheny. It has seven homes on the property, along with a private lake.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
A southerly outlook on the Las Varas ranch.
A southerly outlook on the Las Varas ranch.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
Cows graze on South Naples' bluffs.
Cows graze on South Naples' bluffs.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
All three ranches combined front four miles of Pacific coastline. Here, a beach at South Naples.
All three ranches combined front four miles of Pacific coastline. Here, a beach at South Naples.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
A sunset view from South Naples ranch.
A sunset view from South Naples ranch.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
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