Laurel Abbott

The Santa Barbara Association of Realtors is pleased to announce that we will be receiving the City of Santa Barbara’s Water Hero Award from the Department of Water Conservation.

This is the result of our recent re-landscaping of the front lawn at 1415 Chapala St. As is the case with many commercial buildings in Santa Barbara, the SBAOR building had a grass lawn in front. We had high water bills, and flooding in our basement during high rains that needed to be rectified.

With these ideas in mind, as well as some guidance from our Board of Directors and resident “green” guy Bob Hart, our association executive, we employed our affiliate Wilson Environmental Contracting to change our landscape.

We now have a Demonstration Garden for the community to see how landscaping can be beautiful and yet use less resources. We have a plethora of native, drought-tolerant plants thoughtfully planted for beauty as well as alternating blooming cycles, all of which will significantly cut our water consumption and use of fuel and fertilizer.

The changes have significantly and simply reduced flooding under the building by redirecting roof and landscape runoff away from the building toward a suitable area of the landscape where the water can infiltrate and deep irrigate the plants. We estimate that we have cut our landscaping water usage by 80 percent.

This evolution matches our ideals in reducing waste, beautifying our environment and creating a sustainable landscape for the future.

SBAOR is honored to join the ranks of The Towbes Group and Dennis Allen as previous recipients of this award. Thank you to my Board of Directors and Hart for having the vision to make this change and to the city for recognizing our efforts to reduce water usage and beautify our town.

Laurel Abbott is a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway California Properties and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at or 805.879.8050. The opinions expressed are her own.