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Stories by Susan Vaughn

Encanto – snubbed but proud

MLK Park, trolley in-filling, Salaam Fish House, North Encanto lunch group, Pepperview Canyon, Apostolic Prayer Temple

On top of this little corner of the world Here on Skyline Drive, great swaths of sward stretch out below, springy and green. Here, there are vacant lots littered with possibility, within sight of a ...

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.

San Diego's splendid Craftsmen homes

A perfectly sanitary, labor-saving house .

“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.”

Beach people who aren't bums – from Cardiff to Coronado

All summer, all winter Is the sound of the sea

“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.”

El Cajon's crowded discontents

City of boxes

“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.

A guide to San Diego's long-lived Victorian houses

Unfashionable castles .

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.

San Diego's master planned communities

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.

Saint Malo – Oceanside's best-kept secret

Halfway between Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo

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, not El Cajon Bl.

Kensington’s “erroneous” crime statistics

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.”

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

Get your checkbook out!

“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.”

The discreet charm of Encanto

There's no snooty people here

One of Klauber’s daughters remarked that there was not much to do in the environs [of Encanto] except look at the views and smell the sage and tar weed. But that, she said, was enough.

Lisa Whitney, relentless La Jolla real estate broker

"I knew in my heart I could do it"

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 ...

The dueling architecture styles of UCSD

$850 million worth of buildings in 11 years

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.

Lost among dream homes in Rancho Santa Fe

Many mansions

“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.

Mission Hills' weird history

Coffins, gardens, and white folks

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 ...

National City's eclectic architecture

When the bungalows came to town

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.