After fire and mudslides, Montecito struggles; Ventura and Santa Barbara counties rebound

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai Valley.
(Evan Hurd Photography / Corbis via Getty Images)

After December’s fires and early January’s floods, any visit to Santa Barbara County will require homework.

Caltrans said Friday that the 101 Freeway, from the Ventura-Santa Barbara county line to South Milpas Street in Santa Barbara, would remain closed indefinitely. For updates, check the agency’s website at or call (800) 427-7623.

Amtrak ( on Jan. 11 resumed train service between Oxnard and Santa Barbara. While the freeway closure lasts, Island Packers (, which usually runs boat trips to the Channel Islands, is running shuttle service between Ventura and Santa Barbara harbors.

Though most visitor attractions in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties avoided the fires and floods and have reopened, several are closed. In Montecito, where mud slides killed at least 17 people last week, all businesses were closed. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has imposed a public safety exclusion zone, banning nonresidents from the area.


Here is a look at several destinations in the region, beginning with Montecito and Santa Barbara. Before visiting, double-check your destination’s status.

In and around Montecito: This area faces challenges, including an unreliable water supply. Sharon Byrne, executive director of the Coast Village Road Assn., said Thursday that all 151 businesses in her organization were closed.

The Montecito Inn has been evacuated and closed indefinitely.

The Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara, a 22-acre beachfront luxury hotel, is closed indefinitely amid substantial flood damage, a representative said.

The San Ysidro Ranch resort, which shut for “an extensive cleaning” after the fire, remains closed indefinitely.

Santa Barbara: Visit Santa Barbara spokeswoman Karna Hughes said most attractions are open, including the Santa Barbara Zoo, Old Mission Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Info: Visit Santa Barbara, 500 E. Montecito St., Santa Barbara; (805) 966-9222,

Carpinteria: The city had returned to business as usual before the mudslides, said Joyce Donaldson, president and chief executive of the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

But the slides cut off the city from Montecito and the rest of Santa Barbara County. It also severed the city’s cable service, blacking out telephone, television and internet connections, and left “a significant amount of debris” on beaches. Schools are closed through Jan. 16. Local officials are posting daily updates on the city website at

Ventura: Although the fire reached the hills above downtown and many residences were lost, the city’s beaches, pier, Main Street and harbor are operating as usual, said Mike Laan, the digital marketing manager for the Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau.

Much of the 109-acre Ventura Botanical Gardens burned and is closed indefinitely.

Info: Ventura Visitors Center, 101 S. California St., Ventura; (805) 648-2075,

Oxnard: McGrath State Beach is closed indefinitely due to flooding.

Ojai: The Ojai Valley Inn, reopened Thursday after closing for annual renovations. Suzanne’s, a perennially popular restaurant on West Ojai Avenue, closed Dec. 31 after 25 years — a decision made before the fires.

Info: Ojai Visitors Bureau, 109 N. Blanche St., No. 103, Ojai;

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