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   Town & Country

Town & Country Travel Magazine Summer 2004

Homes Away From Home
La Jolla

Whether it's an oceanfront mansion, a village town house or cliff-top privacy you seek, this community near San Diego has a property to satisfy you. By Kimberly Brown Seely

A time comes in every life when climate counts. Fortunately, for those grown weary of Win­netka winters and Scottsdale summers, there is La Jolla, where the weather is mild, sunny and nearly perfect all year round. This California classic draws second-home buy­ers for a host of reasons: its quaint but posh downtown; its intellectual life, springing from nearby University of California at San Diego; and its prime Pacific coast location.

The first thing buyers must realize is that here you trade acreage for lifestyle. But who wants to mow the lawn when you can be at the beach? In the 1950s Raymond Chandler was able to live on La Jolla's most desirable street, Camino de la Costa, by writing mys­teries. Today his neighbors would probably be biotech or telecom execs, but La Jolla still feels like small-town U.S.A. with palm trees and the soothing sound of the surf. Those shopping for property will find a multitude of options, from easy-maintenance condos to hilltop homes and oceanfront estates. What they won't find is a bargain, since in the past six years, prices have doubled. And although La Jolla has long been a resort community, today's second-home owners are less likely to be driving down from Holly­wood than flying in from Dallas or Boston.

The lay of the land La Jolla sits about fourteen miles north of downtown San Diego. At its core is the village, a tidy business district surrounded by quiet residential streets. To the west, sand­stone cliffs drop away to the Pacific; to the east, canyons and hills are studded with houses. And to the north is Torrey Pines Mesa, home to UCSD, Scripps Research Institute and Salk Institute for Biological Studies, among other institutions.


Pacific-facing properties like this rarely become available. A walled half-acre estate with expansive ocean views, it is only a mite and a half south of the Village. Mahogany gates open from Camino de la Costa onto a courtyard planted with yew and fragrant juniper. Inside the 10,000-square-foot Spanish Mediterranean home, grand spaces with marble floors and mahogany woodwork set the tone. French doors lead to a stone terrace-edged by a 100-foot-long balustrade that drops off to waves crashing on rocks and, at low tide, a small sandy beach. Completed in 1999, the compound also contains a two ­suite guest house.

The best times to visit In the winter, second-home owners from the East Coast and the Midwest flock to La Jolla for the sun. During the summer, entire neighborhoods from Texas and Arizona move in. People come for the beach and the summer racing at nearby Del Mar.

The beaches The area's seven miles of coastline range from long stretches to secluded coves. Among the nine beaches are several with distinct personalities. La Jolla Shores, for instance, is anchored by the venerable fourteen-acre La Jolla Beach and Ten­nis Club; Children's Pool, recently colonized by California sea lions, has become the focus of an ongoing kids versus animals debate; and Windansea (immortalized by Tom Wolfe in The Pumphouse Gang) is a popular surfing spot.

The neighbors With Ph.D.'s accounting for a majority of the population, La Jolla is an eclectic blend of university community and beach town, with a dash of Old Guard Holly­wood. Thus you have actor Cliff Robertson and producer Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., living next to such technology titans as Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs and Gateway Computers founder Ted Waite, as well as dozens of Nobel Prize winners. Hiding out: Ivan Boesky, on Mount Soledad.

Where and what to buy Property sitting on the bluffs directly above the ocean starts at about $3.5 million; beachfront estates are $6 million and up. On Camino de la Costa, expect to pay at least $4 million. At La Jolla Shores, you'll find smaller lots and a wide, mile-long beach. The Village itself is ideal for those who seek a California-cottage atmosphere, and the convenience of having all the essentials within walking distance. Finally, Mount Soledad is a different landscape altogether with sweeping views of Torrey Pines and the Pacific. Insider's tip: consider a condo. For $750,000 you can buy a 200-to-1,400-square-foot condominium within walking distance of the Village.

Local Ritual Longtime resident George Hauer, co-owner of La Jolla eatery George's at the Cove, says, "Many people come here straight from the airport and sit out on the terrace so they can just look at the ocean and celebrate being back."

Top real-estate agents for sales, contact XXXXXXX, or Peter Toner, with Prudential California Realty (858-551-3311).

Property Values

$5.95 million

Set on a secluded cul-de-sac, with views of La Jolla Cove and easy access to the shops along Prospect Street, this oceanfront contemporary was designed by noted archi­tect Henry Hester in 1986 and extensively remodeled in 1999. Built for art collectors, it has large expanses of glass and an open plan ideal for displaying sculpture. The property includes a bronze gate, a slate walkway and a water sculpture by the late conceptual artist Eric Orr.

MOUNT SOLEDAD, $6 million

This Mediterranean-style villa on Via Casa Alta sits almost at the summit of Mount Soledad and has extraordinary 270-degree views: to the west, the Pacific; to the north, the coast toward Del Mar; and to the east, University City. The contemporary stucco and tile-roofed house, built in 1985, has clean lines, five bedrooms and tons of light. In back is a pool surrounded by a broad stone terrace. In addition to a spa, a fountain and a deck with a gazebo, there is an outdoor kitchen to make alfresco entertaining easy.


$2.8 million

This 1935 English-style cottage in Mount Soledad's exclusive Old Muirlands neighborhood has been beautifully restored. Light and airy inside, with paned windows framing views of the Village and the ocean, it has three bedrooms, including a large master suite with his and hers dressing rooms. French doors lead to a deck surrounded by mature gardens with fruit trees, Vermont slate, handcrafted stone walls and winding paths designed by landscape architect Ken Yasuda.

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