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As the drought threatens California, journalists are once again pointing to a 1997 law that weakened California open government laws by shielding huge water users — corporations as well as rich folks. On Thursday, April 16, the Center for Investigative Reporting published a story saying, "Californians have no way of knowing who's guzzling the most water."

The blame belongs with a 1997 measure weakening the California Public Records Act. The law went into effect six years after the Los Angeles Times published a story saying that the estate of the late Helen Copley, then the Union-Tribune's publisher, pumped 10,203 gallons a day on her 9.5-acre La Jolla estate, called Foxhill. In lobbying for the bill, proponents noted that utility bills included ratepayers' home addresses. In 1989, an actress had been murdered by a stalker who got her address from Department of Motor Vehicles records. Open records advocates couldn't stop the bill. Now the bill is protecting golf courses from revealing how much water they use.

Yesterday, April 17, AllGov, a publication aimed at a government audience, cited the Center for Investigative Reporting article, and referred to the 1991 article on Copley water use. Foxhill is now for sale for $25 million, according to UTSanDiego. The price is down from $28 million.

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Comments

shirleyberan April 18, 2015 @ 3:45 p.m.

That property was obviously over-priced. Would like to see the listing in her paper. 9.5 acres is a million an acre of La Jolla, land very near beach, plus say, 5 br/5ba. Wouldn't pay over 19M. Just guessing, still gotta look up more but it's an interesting real estate market in San Diego.

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danfogel April 18, 2015 @ 4:42 p.m.

You must have never seen the place. The house is close to 18K sq. ft, I think something like 7 or 8 br and 15 baths, separate guest house and staff's quarter, and something like a 10 or 12 car garage. And the listing I had looked listed it as 8 acres, I believe. From the pictures I saw, it still appeared to be decorated the same as when Helen Copley lived there. Way too ostentatious for my tastes

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Visduh April 18, 2015 @ 8:32 p.m.

Yeah, as though you or I could ever afford such an operation. The daily expense of keeping it up and running would take all my income and then some, even it someone gave it to me. The rich are different from you and me.

What did a widow, rich and "important" as she was, need with an 18,000 foot house? Or all those garage bays? Or bathrooms? Answer: she didn't "need" anything like that. But since she could afford it, why not?

Could any newspaper owner/publisher of today afford such opulence? Most of them are broke, down and out, or dead. A few may still be rich, but not many, and no new media multi-millionaires are being created by newspapers. Not many from other traditional media either.

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Don Bauder April 19, 2015 @ 11:02 a.m.

Visduh: Helen had 10 full-time gardeners. Could today's newspaper executives afford such a home? No. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 19, 2015 @ 2:49 p.m.

danfogel: It's said to have 7.5 bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms, plus 12-car garage. But if it still requires 10 gardeners, and uses all that water, won't that be a sales deterrent? Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel April 19, 2015 @ 5:12 p.m.

don bauder, how do you have a half bedroom. If it has no closet, it can't be classified a bedroom. I have looked at about a half dozen listing sites and they all say 7 br and 14 baths, though several do specify that there are 9 full and 5 "partial" baths, which I believe would make them half baths, or powder rooms if you prefer. In my opinion, if you can afford a $25 million home, paying the staff and the high utilities are not going to be a problem.

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Don Bauder April 20, 2015 @ 6:55 a.m.

danfogel: But water could be a problem -- even for somebody rich enough to buy a $25 million home. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 19, 2015 @ 10:29 a.m.

shirleyberan: Since San Diegans pay a higher percentage of their incomes for homes than residents of any other metro area, you can definitely say it is an interesting real estate market. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan April 18, 2015 @ 3:58 p.m.

Also, I would like to know, how old is your new grandson?

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Don Bauder April 19, 2015 @ 10:30 a.m.

shirleyberan: Nine weeks. His brother will be three years old on June 1. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan April 19, 2015 @ 8:34 a.m.

I see the picture of Foxhill. The listing agent says it's a good value because if it was in Beverly Hills they could get 45 million. 10,000 gallons of water a day is crazy but who's gonna stop private property owners with grandiose tastes. Foxhole, another of their La Jolla mansions sold in October; 15,000 sq ft of house for almost 6 million. My border collie is named Fox and my derogatory pet name for her is "Foxhole". Wiki: the purchasing power of a million US dollars in 1959 is equivalent to 8.09 million in 2015. Didn't find original purchase price but if it was near 20 years ago new price is pure profit to Coply Estate (lawyers).

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danfogel April 19, 2015 @ 9:06 a.m.

No way this house sells for $45 million in BH.It's too old, hasn't been updated and has no provenance. There is a house on the market right now for $42.5 million. Almost 25k sq ft on 15 acres and built in 2001. The La Jolla place might go for $25 million in BH, because of the 8 acres, and it would be a tear down with someone probably spending another $20million plus on a new build.

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Don Bauder April 19, 2015 @ 10:40 a.m.

danfogel: I have only been in it once, and I don't believe it is a tear-down. What impressed me most then is that there was an original Corot and an original Gainsborough (or some British painter) on the walls. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel April 19, 2015 @ 11:18 a.m.

don bauder I think in BH that it would be a tear down. I follow the market and the house is not what people in the area up there are looking for.

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Don Bauder April 19, 2015 @ 2:51 p.m.

danfogel: Apparently, what would be a tear-down in Beverly Hills will not be a tear-down in La Jolla. Makes sense. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 19, 2015 @ 10:58 a.m.

danfogel: Since Ray Kroc, the late head of McDonald's, spent a lot of time in San Diego and Joan Kroc was a good friend of Helen Copley, should a McMansion go in that location? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 19, 2015 @ 10:38 a.m.

shirleyberan: Comparing SD prices to the Beverly Hills market is an invidious comparison. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 19, 2015 @ 2:53 p.m.

shirleyberan: Can you afford Malibu? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 19, 2015 @ 2:55 p.m.

Dennis Hull: You are right. Poiticians do favors for the rich -- for a quid pro quo. It may be a permanent condition. The United States is hardly the only country in which this is true. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister April 19, 2015 @ 8:56 p.m.

That's Copley's 1991 usage. What about the current owner of the San Diego Union/Tribune? Not to mention some of our top governmental officials, whose records should be obtainable. To be fair, the figures should reveal the sizes of the properties.

A good investigative reporter should be able to get just about anybody's water meter readings . . .

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Don Bauder April 20, 2015 @ 6:59 a.m.

Twister: I assume you mean Papa Doug Manchester's water usage. Don't know. Best, Don Bauder

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