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Stories by Susan Vaughn

Invasion of the Tall Buildings

Why San Diego doesn't scrape the sky

Perhaps San Diego’s two screwdrivers, the Hyatt and One America — harbingers of shapes to come — are tools for its future. With luck, Emerald Plaza may serve as a New Age talisman against overbuilding and outrageous flash.

A Perfectly Sanitary, Labor-Saving House

San Diego's splendid Craftsmen homes

“In my neighborhood, people are removing aluminum siding and stucco from the 1950s and 1960s. They’re stripping the paint from their homes’ redwood shingles. And they’re pulling up wall-to-wall carpeting to expose the hardwood floors.”

All Summer, All Winter Is the Sound of the Sea

Beach people who aren't bums

“You can never come back from Dog Beach without having a laugh. Once I saw a little dog running by with a life jacket on. There’s always somebody jumping in the sand, chasing their tail, taking a swim.”

City of Boxes

El Cajon's crowded discontents.

“They called it ‘The Jungle’ where I lived," says Michelle Hull, now a Spring Valley resident but formerly an Emerald Avenue apartment resident. “You could see people doing drug deals in their cars — my nine-year-old daughter saw that.

Unfashionable Castles

San Diego's long-lived Victorians

Another prominent San Diego attorney-turned-judge named E.W. Britt built this nine-room Queen Anne and later sold the residence to newspaper magnate W. Scripps, for use as a townhouse while Scripps's Miramar Ranch was under construction.

The Garage Identity Problem

Custom homes and midlife crises

Already, architects are experimenting with “Row House Revival," narrow unattached homes harkening Victorian urban dwellings, and “Courtyard Clusters," tiny cottages in circular 'covered wagon” formation as options for first-time buyers short on cash.

Halfway Between Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo

Saint Malo - Oceanside's best-kept secret

A real estate agent had warned me, “The residents of Saint Malo are very classy people,” so I had packed a bottle of light, fruity Domaine Les Grands Groux Sancerre (1996) and a loaf of fresh bread.

Kensington Ends at Monroe

With only two avenues of ingress — Kensington Drive and Marlborough Avenue — it remains secluded, quiet, and difficult to locate. Which is fine with its inhabitants who joke, “We’ve never left because we can’t find our way out.”

Get Your Checkbook Out!

Heavy breathing at Sandalwood Court, Encinitas cul-de-sac

“You get a lot for your money,” she says of Sandalwood. “Homes like those would be about $900,000 in La Jolla. There’s minimal new development in Encinitas, so there’ll be hardly any other new products with ocean views.”

Deal Diva

Lisa Whitney's cerulean-blue Jaguar glides through the streets of La Jolla at 8:15 a.m. Its driver is bound for a "pitching session" with the La Jolla Real Estate Brokers Association. She is dressed in a ...

How a Shack Grew into a Big, Brawny Guy Swinging a Hammer

The dueling architecture styles of UCSD

That year a water main ruptured near the library during construction work, sending 1.5 million gallons of water rushing toward the structure. The library’s electronic motion detectors opened the doors, welcoming the deluge into the library's interior.

Many Mansions

Lost among dream homes in Rancho Santa Fe

“The Spiro house" looks gloomy from the outside. Cathy, Judy, and Angie debate whether the home’s showing agent is required to tell potential buyers what transpired in the house. “I think she has to,” Cathy says.

Coffins, Gardens, and White Folks

Mission Hills' weird history

Before Captain Henry James “Ninety Fathom” Johnston plunked down $16.25 for 65 acres of prime Mission Hills real estate in 1869, the area was a wasteland of weeds, scrub, and chaparral; a “hopeless tangle of ...

When the Bungalows Came to Town

National City's eclectic architecture

The California bungalow had its origins in India, another crackling-hot destination in need of cheap, cool housing. The bengalas, as the conquering Brits called them, were small, open, one-story huts with wide verandas.

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