Vacant Beach Lots in 1982: 3
Vacant Beach Lots in 2007: 1
Though according to Travasos and Gilmer, Carlsbad prices are in the midrange for San Diego beachfront properties, there have recently been a few hefty sales in the area. Not too long ago, says Gilmer, a bluffside house sold for $8.5 million, and at the moment, a mansion that is under construction along the cliffs is receiving some astronomically high, unsolicited offers. "I've heard that someone offered $26 million for that house and they didn't take it," says Gilmer, who recalls that the owner is a Las Vegas man. "You find a lot of wealthy people from around the world buying homes here," he says, "and many of them don't even live in those homes. They just vacation there."
There is one vacant lot in Carlsbad, next to 5008 Tierra del Oro Street, a short half-circle of a road that parallels Carlsbad Boulevard (Coast Highway 101). It belongs to the Riley Family Trust of Cathedral City, California. While empty at the time of this writing, the lot will ultimately be occupied by a single-family home, complete with basement. A large sign bearing the words "Project Notice" is staked into the ice plant that's interspersed with tall grasses. The property sold in 2004 for $2,550,000.
Vacant Beach Lots in 1982: 24
Vacant Beach Lots in 2007: 4
Despite the influx of million-dollar homes lining the Encinitas coast, "Encinitas still looks like a beach town," says Wilma Romero, owner of Thrifty Threads, a secondhand store just off the 101. She's lived in Encinitas for almost 30 years and doesn't deny it's become increasingly expensive. "Since the '70s, it's been harder to live here," she says. "Families move here and they move out."
But some have managed to hang on to their properties, some for decades. Amy McQuillan is one of these; she owns two adjacent parcels on Neptune Avenue, one with a house on it at 138 Neptune and the other vacant. According to the gentleman next door, McQuillan is 104 years old and is saving the lot for her nephews. The vacant land is assessed at just over $1000, indicating it was purchased decades ago. The lot rises to just above street level and is covered in drying ice plant. Along the street, a small and slightly haphazard garden grows. The gentleman next door planted it, tending to the tomato vines and marigolds in his spare time. He says that McQuillan is leaving the land to her nephews instead of giving them "just money." He hopes that they never build on it.
There are three other vacant lots on Neptune Avenue, which stretches the length of Leucadia. In the 200 block, north of Roseta Street, is a second vacant lot whose owners live next door. Lined by a rail fence and blanketed by a close-clipped, drying lawn, the lot is owned by Anthony E. Simms and Mary A. Hynan.
At North El Portal Street is a lot blocked from view by a white fence. It has a locked gate and boasts a large No Trespassing sign. In the lawn in front of the fence is a For Sale sign, listing Gary Martin as the realtor. Turns out he owns the property and, as the sign announces, is the "oceanfront specialist." According to his website, where he is pictured smiling and wearing a Hawaiian shirt, his asking price is $3.5 million. Martin declined to comment for this story.
Near Amy McQuillan's lot are two parcels that sold this year, both on the face of the cliff. The first belongs to the Channel Islands Trust of Laguna Niguel, which bought the property in early August from Neptune Family Investments for $2.5 million. The lot immediately adjacent is owned by Shera and Cathleen Reza, who made their purchase in April from Dale and Marjorie Meyers. This lot sold for $3,550,000. Both buyers also purchased the adjacent property above the cliff.
Farther south, a long stretch of unused land at the intersection of J Street and Third Street belongs to the Self-Realization Fellowship. Travasos and Gilmer remember hearing stories about how the land came to belong to the fellowship, which has operations in Los Angeles as well as Encinitas. "A businessman donated it all to [the man who] started the huge yoga compound," says Gilmer. "I forget what year they bought it, because [Paramahansa Yogananda] had come over from India and said there was some special power there. He hooked up with the businessman here, and the businessman bought it and gave it to him as a gift to start his compound." The businessman, a millionaire named James Lynn, bought Yogananda the 17 acres of land in 1937, building him an ashram as well.
Also in Encinitas are two city-owned lots, both on Fourth Avenue, one at the end of West F Street and the other at the end of West G. Probably neither will ever be built on as they are being retained by the city for safety measures. Each is staked with an Unstable Cliffs sign.
There were no vacant lots in 1982, and there are none now.
Vacant Beach Lots in 1982: 6
Vacant Beach Lots in 2007: 0
Vacant Beach Lots in 1982: 10
Vacant Beach Lots in 2007: 1
At the northwest corner of Del Mar, where Via de la Valle runs into Border Avenue, is a huge piece of vacant land. Actually five parcels, two of which edge the beach, it stretches from Coast Highway 101 to the bluff and is covered in red sandy soil from which scrubby weeds poke up. The county assessor's office lists the owner as Pacific View Estates LLC of Del Mar, but no estates -- or signs of estates, for that matter -- can be seen.
Del Mar is home to some of the highest-priced real estate in San Diego. Even small parcels and properties go for astronomically high prices. A local bookseller, Richard Schneblin, remembers directing a home-seeking Danish couple to an extremely small $350,000 house he'd seen advertised nearby. "Needless to say, they thought they'd found the perfect place, even with no backyard," Schneblin says. But the couple returned to his shop disappointed; the house turned out to be a timeshare, and much more money than they expected. "When they went to check on it, the sign said it was $350,000 times ten," says Schneblin, who has worked at Earth Song Bookstore in downtown Del Mar for two years. "The house was, like, $3.4 million to $3.5 million."