Wednesday, September 26, 2012

25th Annual Artwalk at the Museum of Natural History September 29-30

The Museum League of the Santa Barbara 
Museum of Natural History 
proudly presents its 25th annual  
celebration of art featuring The Oak Group.

Enjoy a weekend of nature, live music, 
food, wine and fine art.

$10/general admission

for more information call 805-682-4711 ext. 181

Artists & Patrons Reception
Friday. September 28, 6 - 8 pm

Tickets $50/person (includes weekend pass
to the indoor and outdoor exhibition)

All works displayed at the show are for sale
and proceeds support Museum programs.

Parking free

Lunch served dailyNoon–3:00 PM (No-host Wine Bar)
Image: Larry Iwerks, Grand Canyon, water color (24x18)

Foreclosure rates updates

10 states with highest foreclosure rate
RankStateAugust 2012 Properties with Foreclosure Filings1/every X Housing UnitsPercent change from July 2012Percent change from Aug. 2012

Source: RealtyTrac

Foreclosure-related filings were down sharply from a year ago nationwide in August despite an increase in foreclosure activity in 20 states, particularly in states where courts handle the foreclosure process, including New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
According to the from data aggregator RealtyTrac, 193,508 homes were hit with foreclosure-related filings last month, including notices of default, auction notices and bank repossessions. That's an increase of 1 percent from July, but a 15 percent decrease from a year ago.
10 metros with highest foreclosure rate
RankMetro*August 2012 Properties with Foreclosure Filings1/every X Housing UnitsPercent change from July 2012Percent change from Aug. 2012
1Modesto, Calif.1,04617213.57-22.92
2Merced, Calif.45818349.6712.53
3Bakersfield, Calif.1,53818562.24-1.47
4Fresno, Calif.1,681188178.31-2.38
5Stockton, Calif.1,236189-19.16-28.39
6Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.7,354204-8.21-27.22
7Chico, Calif.42922387.3422.92
8Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Ill.-Ind.-Wisc.16,19223527.6744.24
9Rockford, Ill.58624914.6852.60
10Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.9,23826748.8312.75
*Includes metros with populations of 200,000 or more.
    Source: RealtyTrac                                    

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens Plant Sale, Sept. 29

September 29- November 4
Fall Plant Sale

Fall Plant Sale Sep 29 - Nov 4
The Garden's month-long native plant sale extravaganza begins Saturday morning, September 29th at 10:00am with an exclusive opening for Garden members. All members enter free and receive their 10% discount on purchases. At Noon, the public is welcome to shop. The sale continues through Sunday, November 4. 

More than 5,000 plants and over 400 different varieties will be presented in this, the largest retail collection of native California plants on the Central Coast. As always, Garden staff and volunteers are available to provide expert planting advice for your new purchases.

September 29: Open to members at 10:00am, then open to the public at Noon.
Continues through November 4

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Santa Barbara Shopping Spree Event-Sept 21

Shop Spree SB
 September 21 & 22, 2012

A weekend shopping festival to showcase Downtown
Santa Barbara's charm. Two days of discovering retail stores,
salons, spas and other businesses that collectively make
shopping Downtown an unforgettable experience.  

Click here for more information and for a complete list of participants.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Montecito Home of NYPD Star Dennis Franz on Tour in September

(photo by Russ McConnell)

September 13-October 7, 2012

The Junior League of Santa Barbara 
is proud to be the beneficiary  of the 
2012 Santa Barbara Design House and Garden Tour

This beautiful home is the vision of 
Joanie and Dennis Franz 
of Big Red Properties.
Showcasing the work of local architect, contractor 
and designers.

Tours on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
10 am - 2 pm 
or call 805 963-2704
$35 presale
Event Parking $5 / 
2810 Via Real, Summerland, CA

Monday, September 17, 2012

Santa Barbara's Stearns Wharf hosts free LAST Movie Night Friday

City of Santa Barbara

Last Free Movie Night 
Santa Barbara's Beautiful Stearns Wharf 
September 21
Movie begins at dusk

Bring the kids, friends and family,
a blanket and beach chair!
Have dinner on the Wharf at one of the
many fabulous eateries
or bring a picnic!
Popcorn and movie snacks available for purchase
parking free after 7 pm

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Buying versus Renting

Buying A Home Is 45% Cheaper than Renting
You can save hundreds of dollars a month by buying a home instead of renting ­ especially if you can get today’s low mortgage rates, itemize your tax deductions and plan to live there for 7 years.
The most important housing decision that most consumers face is whether to rent or to buy. So to help them with this decision, we took a look at the key market factors affecting the cost of homeownership. First off, asking home prices have started to rebound and have risen by 2.3% year over year in August (3.8% excluding foreclosures); however, rents have risen more (4.7%). This means that prices are lower relative to rents than they were a year ago. But more importantly, mortgage rates have fallen: the best rates this summer have been around 3.5%, while last summer rates were closer to 4.5%. Based on asking prices and rents during the summer of 2012, buying is now 45% cheaper than renting in the 100 largest U.S. metros, on average ­ that’s a savings of $771 a month. If you plan to stay in a home for 7 years, which is the average time that Americans traditionally live in a home before moving again, it is more affordable to buy than to rent in ALL of the 100 largest metros in the U.S.
Costs aside, the decision to rent or buy a home is very personal. There’s a strong emotional component: some people want the security of homeownership and others want the footloose freedom of renting. But the financial factors are also very personal because the decision to rent or buy depends on:
?       Can you qualify for a mortgage at the best rate available?
?       Which tax bracket are you in, and do you itemize your deductions?
?       How long will you stay in your home?
To calculate whether renting or buying costs less, we assume people can get a low mortgage rate of 3.5%, itemize their federal tax deductions and are in the 25% tax bracket, and will stay in their home for seven years. (Below, we’ll show how changing these assumptions can affect the rent-versus-buy math.) We do the following calculations:
First, we looked at all the homes for sale and rentals listed on Trulia in June, July and August 2012. On for-sale homes, we took the asking price and estimated what it would rent for; for rentals, we took the asking rent and estimated what it would sell for. That way, we can calculate the average rent and asking price for an identical set of properties in a metro area, for a direct apples-to-apples comparison. By looking at homes currently for sale or rent, we’re able to illustrate the actual housing options that consumers face right now.
Second, we estimated the total costs of renting and buying for the typical property in a metro over a seven-year period. We factored in all the costs of homeownership (e.g., closing costs, maintenance, insurance, taxes, etc.), along with the tax benefit of deducting mortgage interest and property taxes, as well as the proceeds from selling the home after seven years with modest home price appreciation. On the rental side, we factored in renters’ insurance and the security deposit. Finally, we calculate thenet-present-value of all those costs to capture the opportunity cost of tying your money up in a down payment. This gives us the total cost of buying versus renting. We then calculated the dollar difference and percentage difference between renting and buying.
Finally, we looked at alternative scenarios of the costs of renting versus buying, by changing the mortgage rate, the income tax bracket for tax deductions, and the time horizon.
Where Buying is a Slam Dunk With a 20% down payment, a 30-year fixed mortgage rate at 3.5% and at the 25% federal tax bracket,homeownership is cheaper than renting in all of the 100 largest metros by a wide margin. There is no market where the financial decision is even close, so long as you plan to stay in the home for at least seven years, get 3.5% mortgage, and itemize your tax deductions. However, how much cheaper it is to buy a home than to rent really depends a LOT on where you live.
Source: Trulia

Fannie-Freddie Short Sale Update

Fannie-Freddie short-sale program may hurt sellers' credit scores
By Kenneth R. Harney
September 9, 2012
WASHINGTON ― With generous new guidelines from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac likely to stimulate large numbers of short sales by underwater homeowners, what effect will the sales have on the sellers' credit scores?
It's a crucial question, because short sales typically cause FICO scores to plummet, sometimes 150 points or more. This, in turn, complicates sellers' credit capabilities for years and makes additional borrowing ― whether for auto loans, credit cards or new mortgages ― tougher and more expensive.
The issue arises now because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ― the dominant sources of home loan funds ― recently outlined plans to approve short sales for underwater borrowers who are current on their loan payments, provided that they face an imminent hardship. Although the numbers of participants in the plan won't be known for months, the two companies combined have about 3.7 million underwater mortgages in their portfolios on which borrowers are making their payments on time, according to federal regulators.
Short sales traditionally have been associated with extended periods of delinquency by borrowers. The technique itself ― in which the lender agrees to accept less than what's owed and the property is sold ― usually has been employed as an alternative to foreclosure.
As a result, FICO credit scores ― the major risk predictive tool used in the mortgage industry ― have severely penalized borrowers who opt for short sales. VantageScore, the FICO rival created by the three national credit bureaus, also hits short sellers with triple-digit point losses.
In a recent blog post, Frederic Huynh, FICO's senior scientist, said statistical reviews of short sellers by the company concluded that they "represent a high degree of risk" to lenders. More than 55% of short sellers in a sample of borrowers from 2007 to 2009 went on to later default on other credit accounts after completing the sale transaction. This ranks them in the same "heavyweight" risk class as people who have been foreclosed upon, filed for bankruptcy, or had a tax lien or collection account.
But hold on. Won't underwater homeowners who qualify for the upcoming short-sale program be fundamentally different? Won't they have solid mortgage payment histories despite being underwater? Why should they have to take the same heavy hits to their scores earned by people who didn't pay their mortgage for months on end?
Good questions, but it appears that these sellers won't get the break they deserve. The scoring system, credit experts say, isn't set up to recognize ― or properly report ― short sales by on-time mortgage customers to the national credit bureaus. And the credit score companies aren't planning to make any changes to the penalties their models assign to people who participate in short sales.
Anthony Sprauve, a spokesman for Fair Isaac Corp., developer of the FICO score, says that in general, when a loan is paid off for less than the full balance, it is "classified as a severe negative item" by the FICO scoring model. And "there are currently no plans to change," he added.
Sarah Davies, senior vice president for research and analytics for VantageScore Solutions, said her company probably won't modify its scoring algorithms either, despite the fact that the seller was not delinquent and came to a mutually satisfactory resolution with the lender.
Terry Clemans, executive director of the National Credit Reporting Assn., an industry trade group, says this is all inherently unfair for borrowers who have continued to make timely payments on their loans. Crushing them with deep credit score penalties "doesn't reflect the fact that these people are actually excellent credit risks. They simply encountered an extraordinary situation" ― namely, the national home value bust ― which put them underwater.
A Fannie Mae spokesman, Andrew Wilson, said his company has no control over how short sales ― whether of people who paid on time or those who didn't ― are scored. But when borrowers do a short sale rather than force the lender to foreclose, Fannie rewards them: They are potentially eligible for a new mortgage again within two years of a short sale. People who go to foreclosure, by contrast, may not be able to get a new Fannie loan for as long as seven years.
Bottom line: If you're underwater and plan to use the new Fannie-Freddie short-sale program this year, don't bank on any special favors when it comes to your credit score. It looks as if you're going to take a big hit, despite all your on-time payments.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Welcome to the US Navy Crew of USS Halsey to Santa Barbara!

Santa Barbara Welcomes Crew of USS Halsey for the Weekend

Navy destroyer will be open for tours, with the public invited to an 'Honor and Remember' reception and other events
The USS Halsey, a U.S. Navy destroyer, anchors off the Santa Barbara Harbor on Thursday. The vessel, which is making a port call locally, will be open for public tours Saturday and Sunday. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
The USS Halsey, a U.S. Navy destroyer, anchors off the Santa Barbara Harbor on Thursday. The vessel, which is making a port call locally, will be open for public tours Saturday and Sunday. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper | 
Hundreds of crew members from the USS Halsey, a U.S. Navy destroyer, will get a chance to enjoy Santa Barbara’s shores this weekend while the public is invited to tour their ship.
The Santa Barbara Navy League has planned activities for the crew during their stay in the city, and President Patricia Westberg said the group was honored to host the visiting sailors.
“The commanding officer and his crew are very excited about having a port call in Santa Barbara, and look forward to meeting our community members through a series of planned events and liberty in town,” she said.
The ship will be in Santa Barbara’s waters until Monday.
The ship is part of a group of guided-missile destroyers, the most powerful destroyer in the U.S. Navy fleet. It conducts sustained combat operations at sea, and is capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously.
Ship tours will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
The tour is free but advanced reservations are required, and can be made by calling 805.963.3564 or online by clicking here.
A host of events are planned for the crew, including a softball game between the Halsey crew and the Santa Barbara police and fire departments, which will be held at Pershing Field from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. That event is also free and open to the public.
Also on Saturday, the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Mike Weeldreyer, and sailors will visit seniors at Villa Santa Barbara, 227 E. Anapamu St., for lunch and social time with the residents. Though the lunch is private, the public is welcome to attend the free meet-and-greet starting at 12:30 p.m.
An “Honor and Remember” reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and the public is invited to join the ship’s men and women at a cocktail reception on the rooftop terrace of the Reagan Ranch Center. Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here.
reposted from NOOZHAW, article by Laura Cooper

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Taste of the Town - Santa Barbara's Epicurean Feast!

September 9, 2012
12:30 - 3:30 PM
Taste of the Town
Epicurean Feast
Arthritis Foundation

Now in its 31st year, "Taste of the Town" is the original tasting 
event in Santa Barbara. Over 1,000 guests attend for an afternoon 
of wine tasting, great food, and live entertainment. Forty of 
Santa Barbara's finest restaurants and forty superb wineries 
donate their delectable tasting specialties to the event - 
all to benefit the vital work of the Arthritis Foundation.

Enjoy an afternoon with 
40 top  Restaurants & Wineries
from Santa Barbara and
Santa Ynez Wineries

Riviera Park & Gardens
32030 Alameda Padre Serra
Santa Barbara, CA

(information from TOT website)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Thursday Means Santa Barbar Downtown Events!

Presented every First Thursday 
of the Month
By The
Santa Barbara Downtown Organization
September 6th

1st Thursday is an award winning program highlighting downtown arts, culture and entertainment on the first Thursday of every month. All 1st Thursdayattractions are free from 5-8pm.
The next 1st Thursday event is Thursday, September 6th and the theme isBack to School!
Click on one of the links below for more information:


1st Thursday is an evening of art and culture in downtown Santa Barbara. On the first Thursday of each month, participating galleries and art-related venues offer free access to visual and performing art in a fun and social environment from 5-8pm. 1st Thursday venues feature attractions, such as art openings, live music, artists' receptions, lectures, wine tastings and hands-on activities. Many Downtown partners partake in this event including non-conventional galleries, retailers and restaurants. In addition, State Street comes alive on 1st Thursday with performances and interactive exhibits. Look for previews of forthcoming plays, symphony performances, concerts and dance productions, as well as local up-and-coming performers. The Downtown Organization also partners with Santa Barbara cultural groups for one-time 1st Thursday attractions.
1st Thursday is for locals and visitors alike. It provides an opportunity for residents to indulge in local culture, mingle with neighbors and participate in the arts community. The program also offers visitors the chance to experience, in one evening, the diversity of downtown Santa Barbara’s visual and performing arts scene. is aimed at developing a lively atmosphere downtown as well as showcasing the cultural variety that Santa Barbara has to offer.
The 1st Thursday Passport is a printed guide and map to all of the 1st Thursday attractions and are available at participating galleries and venues, MTD shuttles, The Visitors’ Center, and hotel concierge desks. OR you can download a printable version above.
Expect something special in art and culture on the first Thursday of every month!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Visit Santa Barbara's beautiful landmarks and beaches with me!

On this Labor Day Weekend
visit one or all of 
Santa Barbara's Amazing Landmarks
Many are FREE  and open to the public
or for a nominal entrance fee
offer tours

 Begin at the Queen of the Missions
Mission Santa Barbara
located at the Top of Garden Street

tours of the Mission Grounds are available
be sure to walk across to the incredible Rose Gardens

travel down Garden Street to

Alice Keck Park
4.6 acres bordered by Santa Barbara,
Micheltorena, Garden and Arrellaga Streets

previously known as the El Mirasol Hotel
this property was bequeathed to the City of SB
by Alice Keck to be made into a public park

directly across the street is 
Alameda Park, 
aka Children's Park

 8000 sf of play ground 

where the fabulous playgrounds were donated and built
by Santa Barbara Community volunteers

traveling down Garden Street we arrive at the
incredibly beautiful Mission Revival Style
Santa Barbara County Court House

Featuring gorgeous Architecture along with amazing
gardens, a clock tower, and restored fountain.
Tours of the Courthouse and Clock Tower available.
Don't be surprised to see a wedding taking place.
Bring a picnic and enjoy the gardens.

If you wish to get a peek of Downtown Santa Barbara
turn right to State Street and travel down State Street
to view the Downtown Retail area
featuring shops, boutiques, restaurants and side-walk cafes
Paseo Nuevo revitalized down town SB
(if you want to park your car in one of the City lots, 
you can travel the entire length of State Street (getting on and off
at any of the Trolley stops) from 
Victoria to Stearns Wharf and back
for a stipend)

Below is a photo of the La Arcada Promenade

Travel all the way down State Street to
Cabrillo Boulevard featuring the Beaches and Harbor areas
 Stearns Wharf offers parking on the Wharf or at Cabrillo Boulvard
in a City Parking Lot

Walking the Wharf is a fun experience but requires good
walking shoes and some stamina. The Wharf itself does offer
some handi-capped parking spots

Plan a fabulous dinner at the Harbor Restaurant, or a casual
refreshment upstairs at Long Board's Grill, ice cream and 
candy shops, wine tasting and beach retail

Further along the Wharf is Moby Dick's Restaurant
and for a casual fabulous local sea cuisine, The Fish House!

Santa Barbara Natural History Museum's
Ty Warner Sea Center 

 Wonderful  Sea and Do Science for all ages

Sabado Domingo Art Show
along Cabrillo Boulevard
starting at Stearns Wharf
every Sunday 11-5
this is a fully juried arts and crafts show

traveling West on Cabrillo Boulevard
we come to the 
Santa Barbara Harbor 
and Marine Museum
open to the public (fee) 
Two wonderful restaurant housed in the same building
Chuck's Waterfront Grill and the Endless Summer Car Cafe
Further down the Breakwater is the very 
popular Brophy Bros Restaurant.  Go early if you want
to enjoy this local hang-out!

This is a working harbor where you can
watch local fisherman come in with their catch and
the Coast Guards' Ship on duty
along with the many private boats anchored here.
Walking all the way along the Break Water you will
pass the private Yacht Club and get a wonderful view
of our public beaches and recreational activities!
Life's a Beach!

one more trip West along Cabrillo Boulevard brings you
 to popular local Lead Better Beach across from the beautiful
Santa Barbara Community College Campus

(view from the Campus from CC Website)

The beachside parking lot provides parking for the
 Breakwater and Harbor, along with the BBQ 
area of Lead Better Beach where many local activities 
happen and is a popular surfing and windsurfing spot
View of Lead Better Beach

continue driving West on Cabrillo Boulevard which
at this point becomes Shoreline Drive
you will be driving along 
Shoreline Park

A favorite local spot for walking people, kids and dogs,
flying kites, taking photos of the magnificent shoreline, picnicking
or climbing down to the beach on the 1000 Steps

I've never counted the steps!

One more stop!
Keep driving along Shoreline Drive...
which runs into Cliff Drive, take a left
and drive all the way to the stop sign at the 
bottom of Cliff Dr where there is a 4-way stop.
Keep going straight (after making the stop!)

Welcome to Arroyo Burro Beach, 
known only to locals as
Hendry's Beach
my personal favorite!
a very popular local beach where many
young surfers learn to surf, great for body surfing
large sand beach area, lots of tide pools, free parking
and dogs on a leash allowed.

The Boat House Restaurant has a take out section
along with a delightful outdoor patio and indoor seating.
Excellent food!  Very popular spot!

The end for now!
time to enjoy a glass of Santa Barbara
County Wine

My next Tour will take you to Montecito, Summerland 
and Carpinteria! Stay tuned!
Have a Fabulous Labor Day Weekend!