New Reports Show Montecito Debris Flow Hit Home Values, Raised Region's Rental Costs

Mar 29, 2019

It’s been a little over 14 months since massive debris flows rolled through parts of Southern Santa Barbara County, killing 23 people and destroying more than 100 homes. Now, a pair of new reports by a consulting company show real estate sales in Montecito took a big hit, while the sudden housing shortage in the county led to a spike in rental prices.

The January 9th, 2018 disaster impacted more than 270 properties.

Bjorn Kallerud is an economist with Robert Niehaus Incorporated, also known as RDN. It’s an economic consulting company based in Santa Barbara.

Kallerud says home sales in Montecito took a 25% drop in 2018 versus 2017, but most of the reductions came in the first two months after the disaster. Later in the year, sales rebounded.

The RDN studies show that the value of homes in what Santa Barbara County identified as higher risk zones in Montecito and Carpinteria has dropped by nearly 26%. Homes outside the red zones increased 9.6%.

Kallerud admits it’s hard to quantify how long recovery efforts will take for Montecito. But, the RDN economist says there is one big sign of home. He says permits show rebuilding is already complete on two of the disaster his properties, and repairs on finished on 15 other debris flow hit homesites.