For months it was cold along Orange County's coastline. For weeks it rained. Shops stood shuttered and streets stayed empty. It was winter at the beach.
But now the days grow longer, and the sun shines brighter. Across the country men and women pause in their work to gaze out the window and think of summer by the shore. They fantasize about lazy days and starlit nights in a magical atmosphere where the food tastes better and the beer is colder.
"It's just a whole different atmosphere," said Lornie Jacobs, who lives in Fountain Valley for 50 weeks of the year and rents a Newport Beach house midway between the ocean and the bay for the remaining two weeks. "It's a vacation even if it's only five miles from home."
Roc Arnett has a longer journey but the same feeling for the beach. Arnett will head from Phoenix to Capistrano Beach in August, renting "three or four" places to house his family, his brother, two sisters and their aggregate 20 kids.
"You throw your Rolex in your suitcase, and you just don't look at it for a week," Arnett said.
The summer rental season starts next month and lasts until mid-September. From June 18 onward, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, San Clemente and points in between will witness a rite of summer in which families tumble out of cars in front of real estate offices, grab maps and keys and head for their temporary digs.
Arrival day traditionally is Saturday, and Newport Beach real estate agent Helane Joy says her office alone is likely to tally 100 arriving families a week. In all, there can be 1,000 families or more arriving at beach communities in the county.
They will pay anywhere from $650 to $2,400--per week. That works out to seven days at $342.85 a day at the high end, lodging only, or $14.28 an hour.
But for every person coming to a summer place at the beach for a week or two, there is another person outward bound, heading for a land where the rents are cheaper, the skies less blue and the surf only a memory.
Patrick Glance, for instance.
Last summer Glance, 25, and his 19-year-old brother, Michael, bade farewell to their home on Seashore Drive in Newport Beach for eight weeks. While renters paid $2,000 a week, Michael stayed with friends further south in Newport and Patrick rented a two-bedroom apartment in Huntington Beach.
"It was typical suburbia," Patrick remembered. "Everyone had a station wagon, nights were quiet, it was a quiet neighborhood." His time as an inlander taught him one thing, though: "It does tend to make you miss (the beach) a little more. I never realized how lucky I was."
Yet the Glances again are getting ready to turn their house over to renters. One unit has four bedrooms, the other one three. The large one has spectacular 20-foot-high cathedral ceilings, mirrored walls in the living and dining rooms, and a marvelous view that makes Catalina--on a clear day--look as if it is in swimming distance.
What Patrick Glance calls the "A unit" is done in black and white, with original serigraphs and lithographs by Erte and Patrick Nagel. Glance figures the duplex could fetch $1 million if he put it on the market.
Then why are the Glances renting the house out?
"The cash flows aren't as great as they used to be," Patrick said. Come again? "Money," he explained.
Glance said that his father's death in 1979 resulted in an inheritance for him and his brother of the house "plus small investments."
In the winter, Glance and his brother "rent out rooms we're not occupying." But "our trust funds are getting low, and we don't want to keep digging out of the trust fund moneys like we have been," said Glance. A December graduate of Cal State Long Beach with a business major specializing in real estate, Patrick Glance does not work, though he spends three hours or more daily working out at a gym. With money less than abundant, he is looking for tenants, hoping to get $2,450 a week for the "A" unit and $1,850 for the three-bedroom, two-bath "B" unit "for the prime months"--July and August.
But where will he go this year?
"That's a good question," he said. "We don't know now. I know of short-term tenancies at Oakwood apartments, so that would probably be our last resort if we don't find someplace else."
Ron Miller is leaving Newport Beach for the summer, too, but at least he knows where he is going--Maine.
"We're going to leave June 1 and come back Sept. 15," said Miller. "My wife runs a 'pet crisis hot-line' business and she's going to run it from Maine. And I'm basically, I really don't know, if you want to know the truth. I'm effectively semi-retired. I'll probably help her."