BUELLTON, Calif. - One of the smallest cities on the Central Coast is experiencing a big turnaround with Buellton becoming the economic hub of the Santa Ynez Valley.
They were in good spirits Friday night for the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of the Brothers Spirits Tasting Room on Industrial Way which is fast becoming a popular destination for food and drink in Buellton.
"Buellton is one of the more progressive towns I've ever been in", says Brothers Spirits owner Jay Lockwood, "they make it very easy for business to get in and get going, you see our turnout here tonight, this is an awesome turnout, and the thoughts and ideas that are coming into this town are great."
The opening of Brothers Spirits micro-distillery is the latest example of an economic turnaround in Buellton.
After years of little to no activity due mostly to the Great Recession, Buellton is booming with new business activity and construction that includes commercial, retail and residential.
"The economy is really picking up, and we do have a good tax base here in the city as far as sales tax and property tax", says Buellton City Manager Marc Bierdzinski, "and we have the support of the City Council and Planning Commission that encourage development, quality development, that looks good."
With the Avenue of the Flags Specific Plan still on the drawing board, and a steady flow of tourism from the local wine region, all signs point to the boom continuing in Buellton.
1920 is the year that the last of the five towns of the Santa Ynez Valley was established, Buellton. However, looking back into the history of the area, the Buell Ranch was a complete town within itself as far back as 1875. By that date R.T. Buell had established a general store, a post office, bunkhouses, blacksmith shop and family homes.
R.T. Buell was born in Essex, Vermont on November 12, 1827 to Linus and Hannah Buell, his forbearers coming from England many years before. R.T. grew up on a farm, learning all the trades, as well as receiving a good education, as he attended Oberlin College in Ohio for three years.
In 1850 he traveled to Kentucky to teach at the Pine Grove Academy, near Columbia. Being in a southern community in the years before the Civil War, R.T. learned first hand about the conflict of ideology between states.
In 1853 the reports of the discovery of gold in California convinced R.T. to try his luck in the far west, so he returned to Essex to say goodbye to his family. He boarded the Yankee Blade in New York for the long trip around Cape Horn to San Francisco.
After 100 days of ocean travel the steamer arrived in San Francisco, and with 54 cents in his pocket, R.T. headed for the gold fields at Bidwell's Bar.
Mining was hard work, and not every one struck it rich, so by 1856 R.T. was farming the bottom lands of the Feather River in Sonoma County. Farming was his first love, and came natural to a son and grandson of farmers.
A year later, in 1857, R.T. started a successful dairy farm with 13 cows at Point Reyes, in Marin County. Eight years later he moved to Monterey County, near Salinas, and opened a dairy farm there with 800 cows. While there, R.T. also edited a newspaper.
During these years his brother, Alonzo Wilcox Buell, arrived in California, having traveled the overland route. The two brothers decided to buy land further south that they had seen advertised in a local paper. The land that was for sale was located in the Santa Ynez Valley, and was a Mexican land grant owned by Jose Maria Covarrubias and Joaquin Carrillo of Santa Barbara.
The winter of 1864 and 1865 had been very dry, forcing many farmers to sell off land to their creditors. It was this land that interested the Buell brothers, The Rancho San Carlos de Jonata, some 26,000 acres of land, and they purchased a quarter of the Rancho.
With interests in Salinas and Rancho San Carlos doing well, R.T. traveled back to Vermont where he married his cousin, Helen Goodchild, in 1867. Their son, Linus, was born in 1868, the first of five children born to the Buells, but the only to survive to majority.
By 1872 R.T had bought the entire Rancho, and dissolved the partnership with his brother Alonzo. Alonzo then purchased the Rancho El Capitan, from the heirs of Capt. Jose F. Ortega.
Buellton is located on US Highway 101 in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County. Buellton has an estimated population of 4,552. Within a six mile radius are four picturesque villages: the Danish City of Solvang ; the western town of Santa Ynez ; and the quaint rural communities of Ballard and Los Olivos. Larger cities in the area include Santa Barbara, 40 miles to the southeast via US 101; Santa Maria, 35 miles to the north on US 101; Lompoc, Vandenberg Air Force Base and Vandenberg Village, 17 miles to the west along State Highway 246. Los Angeles is two hours south of Buellton on US 101, and San Francisco is about a five hour drive north on US 101 or scenic Highway 1.
The City Council Members are elected officers identified in Government Code Section 87200 and file statements of economic interests with the City Clerk's office. Copies of the statements of economic interests filed by the above elected officers may be obtained by visiting the offices of the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) or the City Clerk. The physical address of the FPPC is 428 J Street, Suite 620, Sacramento, California 95814. The physical address of the City Clerk's office is 107 West Highway 246, Buellton, California 93427. The statements of economic interests for some state and local government agency elected officers may be available in electronic format on the FPPC's website at www.fppc.ca.gov .
The Planning Department provides the following services: current and long range planning, code enforcement, economic development, and staffing for the Planning Commission . The City contracts with the County of Santa Barbara Building and Safety Division for building permit review and issuance and building inspection services. The County may be reached at 805-568-3030 (Santa Barbara office) or 805-934-6230 (Santa Maria office).
The Public Works Department is responsible for the management, operation and maintenance of the City's infrastructure, which includes streets, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, sewer system, storm drain system, and water systems. This also includes public facilities such as parks, park and ride, transit, buildings and its landscaping. In addition, the department includes the Engineering Division, which manages the capital improvement programs, provides design and inspection services, and reviews developments and subdivisions.