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The 'Funk Zone' is Santa Barbara's Hottest New Neighborhood, But Will it Survive?

October 17, 2013 at 1:33 PM | by | ()

The thing that makes Santa Barbara so great to some is the same thing that keeps others at arm's length: The fact that, for the most part, it is an extremely gentrified city. Enter the "Funk Zone," the newest neighborhood in town that was born funky through cheap real estate value, which drew artists, their studios, and the ensuing creativity to the vacant buildings.

On a recent visit, we discovered just how great the Funk Zone was, displaying a touch of grit that Santa Barbara has always lacked. Funky, not filthy, is definitely the way to describe it. Once previously filled with abandoned buildings and unpopular as recent as two years ago, it has revitalized itself in a really awesome way. Think murals, a surf museum, wine tasting rooms, breweries, a distillery, and small restaurants.

But as is often the ironic case with up and coming neighborhoods, the growing popularity is what ultimately might end up killing it. Now that the neighborhood is the newest place to be, corporate real estate developers have been buying up properties, meaning that rent is going up and many of the artists and their funk are being pushed out.

Who will replace them? According to a local Santa Barbara radio program, established wineries and new hotel projects are just a few possibilities around the corner.

Whether that’s a bad thing remains to be seen and is up for debate, and as a former resident, this Jaunted contributor can tell you that some residents will be thrilled to see the funk subside (we'll leave you to hypothesize who that might be). But in any case, you better visit now while it still has its swag, and you can find the Funk Zone just off the beach on the east side of south State Street.

[Photos: Chuck Place/SB Independent]

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