Tuesday, February 9 , 2016, 11:11 pm | Fair 53º

More Mesa Parcels Sold to Saudi Developer for $25 Million

Seller says plans for the land include protecting a significant portion as a public park and nature preserve

An aerial-view planning map shows the parcels that make up More Mesa, which sits on the coast between Santa Barbara and Goleta. Six parcels on the scenic bluff have been sold to a Saudi real estate developer for $25 million.
An aerial-view planning map shows the parcels that make up More Mesa, which sits on the coast between Santa Barbara and Goleta. Six parcels on the scenic bluff have been sold to a Saudi real estate developer for $25 million.  (More Mesa Preservation Coalition photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

Six More Mesa property parcels have been sold to a Saudi real estate developer for $25 million, according to documents filed Tuesday with the Santa Barbara County Assessor’s Office.

The 264.49 acres of land are undeveloped open space in unincorporated Santa Barbara County between Goleta and Santa Barbara and have been used as recreational space for decades.

There have been multiple attempts to develop the land, which were all vehemently opposed by the community and groups such as the More Mesa Preservation Coalition.

The buyer, Khalid S. Al Shobily LLC, is a Saudi Arabia-based real estate developer. The deal was brokered through Century 21 Bright Horizons in West Covina, Calif.

Sun Mesa Company, the seller, released a statement Wednesday saying that it has had extensive discussions with the buyer about a future plan for the land.

“We believe that this plan, which provides for a significant portion of the property to be protected as a public park and nature preserve with public trails and beach access, is the ideal solution for the future of the property,” President Stephen Holding said.

“The buyer has expressed their intention to continue working with Jack Theimer, Kim Kimbell and Stephen Hawkins on the current development plan; however, the buyer will not finalize their intentions until they have an opportunity to more fully review the proposed plan as well as other options.”

The properties were listed for $35 million but sold for $25 million.

With the deal, Khalid S. Al Shobily LLC paid $27,500 in documentary transfer tax, according to the County Assessor’s Office.

“Having owned the property for over 25 years, we feel some sadness to no longer be part of this beautiful piece of land,” Holding said, “but we are confident that it will be developed in a way which will benefit all involved.”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 12.20.12 @ 10:49 AM

As walls go up and minarets appear… hope the neighbors like listening to the morning call to prayer!!

» on 12.20.12 @ 12:30 PM

“We believe that this plan…”  & “we are confident that” & “The buyer has expressed their intention…”

Those are simply statements that let the sellers off the hook when it turns out completely different than what they were told it would be.

I am stunned that this happened. It all makes sense now, with the mosque plans, etc… All the rug stores in town… (read here about smuggling drugs in rugs from the middle east: http://www.timesnewsweekly.com/news/2012-03-15/Crime_(and)_Cases/SMUGGLED_DRUGS_IN_PERSIAN_RUGS.html)

A SB taxi driver from El Salvador said he and his buddies continue to be so confused when they see over and over again middle eastern people in SB that got their legal status in two weeks, vs other central and South American immigrants who worked to get it for months and years without success. There are 90+ taxi companies in SB. ???? Check out how many of them are of middle eastern descent. Its not cheap to set up a taxi company, but I suppose if you have Saudi money behind you, then nothing is impossible.

Yes, minarets are coming to SB. Maybe not tomorrow, but they are coming. Their argument will be that its no different from the melodic mission bells that are the hallmark of everything Santa Barbara is.

Very, very sad.

» on 12.20.12 @ 01:40 PM

Interloper and InTheMiddle, you are both showing your racism. Shame on you! You are both disgraces to Santa Barbara.

In other news, I hope the new owner knows it will be a very, very, very, very, very, very, very long time, if ever, when they will be able to build on this beautiful piece of undisturbed property. Santa Barbara likes one of the last open spaces around.

Maybe the city or county, or non-profit should consider buying it to leave it natural like the Douglas family preserve.

» on 12.20.12 @ 02:50 PM

No, not racism, I think of it as nationalism. Don’t pull that whiny racism card out… its just too easy and simply wrong. If we don’t try to preserve what is valuable to us here in America, then we simply won’t retain it: freedom, valuing hard work and success, freedom of religion, individual rights and responsibility, etc…

I have no problem with people of other cultures coming to America through proper legal channels, learning English and embracing the American life of freedom, working hard, and respecting others’ rights. I do have a problem with other cultures coming here and living off our entitlement programs, engaging in criminal activity, and doing everything they can to change laws in our country so that we more resemble the country from which they fled.

I think it shows real ignorance when one thinks that there aren’t underlying disturbing agendas to the changes afoot all around us. My ear is to the ground, I listen to people in all circles and read information from all types of global sources. I simply think America has been the best country in which to live (and SB being one of the best towns) and it breaks my heart when I see it going in the wrong direction.

» on 12.20.12 @ 04:26 PM

I suspect the numbers of drugs smuggled in from the Middle East are miniscule compared with the numbers of drugs smuggled from Central and South America!

As for the new buyer, welcome to him—- and hopefully, he will not develop the land as is developed the perimeter shown in the photo. Many of those living in those areas probably support the open space of More Mesa as their backyard. It’s not; it’s privately owned. Hopefully, the owner will show more respect for the land than the owners/developments surrounding it.

I don’t know why anyone is “stunned” that a property that has been for sale is sold. It’s a pity that the community did not come together and buy the property for the community.

» on 12.20.12 @ 05:17 PM

“We believe that this plan ... is the ideal solution for the future of the property,” President Stephen Holding said.

Solution?  This piece of beautiful, rare, undeveloped coastline needs a “solution”??

» on 12.20.12 @ 06:03 PM

jayarr you nailed. The developer’s “problem” is the community’s treasure; his “solution” is our loss.

» on 12.20.12 @ 06:29 PM

Honestly Noleta Res and Jayar- do you really believe an entitlement exists to all private property- or just this piece?  I treasure the environmental stewardship of this area- but the hostility towards owners of property in this case may have backfired-if people felt so strongly why didn’t they buy the whole thing, since the price went down so much?? Being able to preserve 85% of it in perpetuity seems reasonable to most people I talk to

» on 12.20.12 @ 06:56 PM

SBLOGIC, in defending property rights, forgets a salient fact. Nobody held a gun to the head of this developer - or any developer - stressing the necessity to buy and develop and excercise those rights.  For all these centuries, that property was owned by somebody - who enjoyed the same rights -but somehow found a way to resist exercising them.

» on 12.20.12 @ 09:13 PM

Jayarr- i read your words several times but makes no sense- truly- and i want to understand the logic whether I agree or not.
No one forced me to buy my home or forced the developer who once owned the land under it——-(sorry, using a gun analogy does not appeal to me)—and so what? Wat on earth do you mean??

» on 12.21.12 @ 01:57 AM

Developers who advocates advocate strongly for “property rights”  seem to imply that the choice as to whether or not to exercise them - in this case, to develop a virgin parcel - is a value-neutral choice. That is, since the property owner has the right to develop, those who would prefer the land remain undeveloped have no valid right to protest his exercise of development “rights”. As far as the public interest is concerned, he would argue, his choice should be as fully regarded as the choice of all the previous owners of that land not to develop it. I don’t deny that he has the right to develop the land, but I’ll be damned if I’d regard him as virtuous as all those prior owners who chose to leave the land in its natural state. Nor would I condemn members of the public (or their representatives in government) for fighting him tooth and nail.

When one voluntarily buys a piece of undeveloped land - especially one he should know the public has a keen interest in remaining undeveloped - he should anticipate a hard fight and be ready to wage one, rather than bleating about denial of his “property rights”.

» on 12.22.12 @ 08:38 PM

Jayarr, that is utter non sense. You have a right, like anyone else to purchase that property and do what ever existing zoning allows or what ever you can do to get your best value out of it, under the law. What you do not have a right to do is dictate what others do with their property because you don’t like that use as zoning allows.

Zoning is used to keep the values of properties and the uses of properties consistent with adjacent properties and the community as a whole, preferably to some cogent plan that allows the community to develop naturally within the limits the community as a whole determines without “taking” property value unjustly. For example a community cannot decide it wants your property for a view corridor if doing so damages you property’s value, unless you are compensated for such damage.

This is how civilizations work, how communities get along. But here in Santa Barbara we have a very vocal bunch of NIMBYs, no nothing nevers and preservationists who would scream bloody murder if their own property was subject to the wanton taking that they propose for all other properties they want use for free.

The bottom line is this, if you and your bunch truly want this land preserved as is forever, then buy the damned thing your self. Then you can do what ever you want under the law.

» on 12.22.12 @ 10:13 PM

People obviously differ as to the degree that public interest should impinge upon property rights. The line between them varies from community to community. That the line has traditionally skewed toward “public interest” in this community is why this place is as attractive as it is.  Places like Santa Barbara don’t just “happen”. Zoning alone doesn’t guarantee such outcomes.

» on 12.24.12 @ 02:07 AM

As a long time advocate for preserving what remains of our coast and farm lands, nevertheless I have to side with the owner here. The public has no right to deny an owner the use of his land that is consistent with adjacent land. In this case it is housing on three sides. Yes, the public has a right to access the public beach through the land…..on trails. But to keep the land in open space the public must compensate the owners. That can be an outright purchase or a trade of some partial development for some of the land kept as open space.

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