Information

History • Partnership Interests • Building Types & Rights • Guests • Owners' Association • Taxes & Financing • Utilities • Who Owns Property • Cattle Co-OpSchoolsFireSurfPublic Access

Hollister Ranch History & Information

About

The Hollister Ranch is a 14,400 acre area of land located south of Point Conception, at the northernmost edge of the area known as "Southern California." The Ranch is a cattle ranch that is sparsely developed with homes on large, agriculturally zoned, 100 acre parcels. The Ranch contains approximately 8.5 miles of Pacific Ocean shoreline, an area characterized as empty points and coves, rolling hillsides, and beach bluffs.

"The Hollister Ranch Owners’ Association seeks to develop and maintain Hollister Ranch in a manner that ensures the full enjoyment of the historical traditions and natural advantages of the area for all who acquire property therein and yet encourages diverse individual expression within the environment. The Hollister Ranch Owners’ Association believes that this fundamental concept can serve the interests of those who become such owners by fostering a beneficial land use that retains the unique beauty of the land and creates an atmosphere enriching the spirit of its participants." - CC&Rs, 1971

History & Region

The Ranch was part of the 1794 Rancho Nuestra Señora del Refugio Spanish land grant to José Francisco Ortega. This was the only land grant under Spanish rule in Santa Barbara County, California. The grant encompassed much of the Gaviota Coast.

In 1869, William Hollister and his family acquired the Ranch property, and began using it for cattle ranching. It has been a working cattle ranch ever since. On average, approximately 500,000 pounds of beef are shipped annually from the Ranch.

In 1971, the Ranch was subdivided into 136 separate, approximately 100 acre parcels, and some common areas. 133 of the parcels are now privately owned. The other 3 lots are commonly owned by the Hollister Ranch Owners' Association and used for administrative, cattle ranching, and other common purposes.

The land located to the immediate west of the Ranch is privately owned and includes the Dangermond Preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy. The Gaviota State Park, with its Wind Cave trail and Gaviota State Peak trail borders the HR's east. The Santa Ynez mountains lie along the northern boundary of the Ranch over which lies the magnificent and historic Rancho San Julian. The Pacific Ocean lies along the Ranch's southern boundary.

How do Partnership Interests & Building Rights work at the Hollister Ranch?

The most common ownership arrangement for an individual parcel is three owners/families deeded to the property, each with a 1/3rd interest and rights to build one of the three allowable structures—the “principal residence”, “guest house”, or “employee residence”.

A partnership (or co-ownership) agreement determines who can develop the various building rights and other responsibilities on the parcel. This arrangement reduces acquisition, construction, and maintenance costs, and the interest can later be sold to a new owner. These undivided interests can be purchased for much less than an entire parcel, with all owners having the same use of the Ranch common areas and beaches. Partnership interests may be available with an existing home, or as vacant land with or without permits and other approvals. A parcel’s 100+ acres of land cannot be legally divided, but each family has exclusive use of their individual home(s) and developed property site(s). The building rights can be transferred between that same parcel’s partners. The County of Santa Barbara imposes certain restrictions for each type of structure built at Hollister Ranch, including maximum square footage or occupancy limits.

Access by Owners & their Guests

Access through the East-end and only gatehouse is apportioned by ownership interest.

Access Rules for Owners: Access to Hollister Ranch is limited to a certain number of people depending on the size of the parcel you own. If you own a 100 acre parcel, you can have up to 12 family members access the ranch. If you own a 50% interest in a parcel, you can have access for 6 family members. If you own a one-third interest in a parcel, you can have access for 4 family members. If you own a one-sixth interest in a parcel, you can have access for 2 family members. And if you own a one-twelfth interest in a parcel, you can have access for 1 family member.

All others entering the Ranch, are considered guests of the parcel owner and may be on the Hollister Ranch only when the owner is present (e.g., guests may not rent the owner’s home).

Guests of Owners: A maximum of twelve guests per parcel (not per owner) are allowed on the Ranch at any one time. So, up to 24 people per parcel (12 owners + 12 guests) may access the HR on a given day. An extended guest list, if filed with and approved by HR management allows each parcel more guests for special occasions.

A paved two-lane road winds through the Ranch from east to west, located approximately a quarter mile to a half mile inland from the shore--unpaved and paved roads branch off to the south and north from the main Ranch road at various points. Railroad tracks controlled and used by the Union Pacific Railroad lie between the main Ranch road and the beach.

What are the unique allowable Hollister Ranch Structures? And how are parcels Improved?

Each 100+ acre parcel at The Ranch allows for the construction of one main house and one guest house. Additionally, agricultural zoning also permits the construction of employee dwellings and barns. Before beginning any construction, it is important to be aware of the local county requirements. The Coastal Zone Ordinance requires a one-time $5,000 fee to be paid at the time of construction of the first dwelling. Additionally, there may be specific size restrictions for the guest house and other structures, as well as other restrictions that may apply. It is recommended to contact us to discuss any specific questions or concerns regarding building on the property. (805) 680-7425

Some agricultural projects on Hollister Ranch include: equestrian breeding/training/boarding, brood mare, macadamia nut trees, avocado and lemon orchards, Protea and Leptospermum flower operation, oak tree regeneration, native grass seed harvesting, and apiaries.

Before beginning any construction on your parcel, it is important to first review the requirements set by the Hollister Ranch Design Committee. A Master Plan, which includes a topographic map, should be developed for your parcel. After the plan is completed, schedule a meeting with the Design Committee, which typically meets on the first Saturday of every month.

The Ranch also has several Contractor-Owners/Builders who live on the property and have extensive knowledge of the Hollister Ranch development process. They can assist you in navigating the committee's requirements and ensuring your plan meets all necessary standards. All previously approved parcel plans are on file at the Hollister Ranch office and can serve as a reference for your own plan.

About the Hollister Ranch Owners' Association (HROA) & Dues

The HROA's mission is to maintain Hollister Ranch in a manner that protects the traditions and beauty of the area for owners. As part of its mission, the HROA and its Board of Directors monitor and enforce covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R's) and other Ranch rules that govern and limit the ownership and use of land within the Ranch.

As of January 4, 2010, the monthly Hollister Ranch Owner's Association dues are $1,028 per 100-acre parcel. These dues are used to cover the costs of a variety of essential services, including:

  • 24-hour security system

  • Full-time maintenance crew

  • Ranch manager

  • Bookkeeping and outside consultants

  • Maintenance of common areas and ranch roads

  • Beach cabanas

  • Limited insurance coverage

  • Some legal fees

The dues are used to cover the cost of vital services required to maintain the Ranch and keep it a safe and enjoyable place for all property owners.

What are the county property taxes?

Hollister Ranch is zoned as an Agricultural Preserve under Ag 320. As a result, most underdeveloped, vacant, 100-acre parcels are taxed at a relatively low rate of only a few hundred dollars per year. However, it is important to note that most structural improvements on the property will be taxed approximately 1% of the estimated construction costs by the Santa Barbara County Tax Assessor. These "lower" agricultural zoning taxes are intended to offset the Owner's Association fees. It is worth noting that property taxes are not based on the sale price of the property, but rather on the agricultural income and building improvement value of the property.

How are utilities at the Hollister Ranch handled? What fire protections are in place?

Water & Electric: Each parcel at The Ranch is equipped with its own water well or is connected to a shared water district system. Electricity is provided along the main road through power poles, and is currently available in some of the canyons. However, many of the back parcels rely on solar electricity or gas-powered generators. Electrical and phone line extensions must be buried underground to reach building sites and neighboring parcels may share the costs.

Gas: Propane gas delivery is available to all Hollister Ranch parcels.

Septic: Septic tanks with leach fields or dry wells are used for sewage disposal.

Trash: Trash and recycling dumpsters are located on Hollister Ranch in two convenient hidden locations just off the main road for owner household use.

Internet: The first several canyons have broadband DSL available and most others have a satellite option, including HughesNet and StarLink. Inexpensive, but slow dial-up/modem options are widely available through online sites. Presently, there is one informal broadband Wi-Fi “hotspot” in a common area.

Fire: In 2010, owners established an excellent private fire company on the Hollister Ranch: Hollister Ranch Fire Company. A relatively new Santa Barbara County fire station is located less than a mile from the Highway 101 turnoff at Gaviota. More about HR fire protection. In 2021, Hollister Ranch was designated as a FireWise community.

Wildlife and Nature

The Gaviota Hill Country, where the Hollister Ranch is situated, is a veritable ecological treasure trove. The scientific community recognizes it as one of the world's 15 most biologically diverse and ecologically significant regions. With nearly 200 distinct avian species, over 50 species of fish, and 1,400 plant and animal species, the Gaviota Hill Country is a veritable haven of biodiversity.

As a designated nature preserve, the Hollister Ranch is held up as a model of ecological conservation, earning recognition both locally and nationally. Among the fauna commonly encountered on the Ranch are deer, bobcats, rabbits, coyotes, badgers, squirrels, wild boars and - on exceedingly rare occasions - mountain lions or bears.

Since hunting is strictly prohibited on the Ranch, visitors have an increased likelihood of encountering these local fauna in their natural habitats. The Ranch serves as a sanctuary where native wildlife can coexist with property owners without fear of persecution. This makes the Hollister Ranch a unique and unparalleled destination for those seeking to experience the natural splendor of the Gaviota Hill Country.

Who owns property in Hollister Ranch?

There are several hundred owners of Hollister Ranch parcels. Some are original owners who purchased parcels in the 1970s when parcels were a few hundred thousand dollars. Over the last 50 years, since the HR was subdivided in 1971, homes have been built on 80% of the 133 privately owned Hollister Ranch parcels.

People are drawn to the Hollister Ranch land and community for a wide variety of reasons and often cite the landscape, effective rules regarding preservation, water sports (surf), privacy, and the desire for a traditional California lifestyle. The Hollister Ranch is approximately 2 hours from downtown Los Angeles.

Is Hollister Ranch related to Hollister Co., the California lifestyle clothing brand?

Hollister Co., often advertised as Hollister with clothing designs usually styled "Hollister - California", is a retail surf lifestyle brand owned by Abercrombie & Fitch founded in 2000. The company created a fictional history surrounding its founder coming to California. According to this history, John Hollister, Sr. emigrated from New York City to the Dutch East Indies, and established the company bearing his name upon returning to the United States and settling in California in 1922. The brand's logo is a flying seagull. The Hollister Ranch is 25 miles west of Santa Barbara, in Gaviota, California - "gaviota" is the Spanish word for seagull.

In fact, Hollister, California is a city in Central California without a coastline and known for cattle ranches and was founded by the family that purchased the Hollister Ranch.

Can you camp at Hollister Ranch?

Overnight camping near the beach or other common areas is prohibited. Very short-term camping at parcels may be available but is governed by an individual parcel's partnership agreement.

Beachside camping is available outside the HR 2 miles east of the gatehouse at Gaviota State Park Beach & Campground.

Is Hollister Ranch open to public?

No. Please see this page regarding the convenient Public Access topic.

Can the public surf at Hollister Ranch?

People can and sometimes do use boats to access the state-owned “wet beach” along the Ranch’s southern boundary. The Ranch does not attempt to stop this activity. Please see this page regarding the convenient Public Access topic.

In California, the State owns the coastline's tidelands, sometimes known as the “wet beach,” lying seaward of the mean high water line, and thus the public has always had access to the wet beach on the Gaviota Coast, which includes Hollister Ranch's tidelands. The eastern boundary of the Ranch is adjacent to Gaviota State Beach, which is itself adjacent to Highway 101 and open to the public.