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House and Home

When Jim and Lynne Doti want to leave Chapman University and the entertaining life behind, they head to their less- accessible second home on Balboa Peninsula.

July 01, 1999|ANN CONWAY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Not all couples need 20 parking spaces on their property.

But for Chapman University President Jim Doti and his wife, Lynne, the vast driveway that fronts their Villa Park residence is a must. Ditto the backyard, big enough to seat 200, and the sideyard roomy enough for a catering crew.

Goodwill ambassadors for Chapman, the Dotis frequently entertain throngs of students, donors and trustees at the university's President's Home. The 4,800-square-foot dwelling-- situated on nearly an acre--was originally owned by the Dotis, who bought it in 1992 for $760,000. After improving the property, the couple sold it last year to Chapman for its appraised value of $825,000.

"This home allows us to reach out to our larger community," said Jim Doti, 52, a noted economist and former student of Nobel laureate Milton Friedman.

Try to park your car at the Dotis' new digs on Balboa Peninsula, however, and you're lucky to find space on the bustling street, much less the small driveway.

There, at the $1-million-plus house the couple will call home when Jim Doti is no longer president, parking for guests is a low priority. "Our rule in Balboa is: Just friends--no university business," explained Lynne Doti, 51, an economics professor at Chapman.

Since the couple bought the 2,300-square-foot Balboa house in February, they've acquired a lifestyle that takes them from the hubbub of university life to the hum of the bay front--in 20 minutes.

Owning a beach house has been a long-held dream of the Dotis. "Every summer we'd bring the family to the area and rent a place; it was getting harder and harder to find a spot--and more expensive," Jim Doti said. "We look forward to spending our retirement there."

Newport Beach Realtor Stephanie Argyros King, daughter of Chapman benefactor George Argyros, helped the Dotis find their new home.

Though the President's Home is still their primary residence, the couple visit their Balboa getaway as often as possible, mostly on weekends.

"The new home is good for the marriage because in our lives everything is Chapman," Lynne Doti said. "It's not just Jim's life, the university is my life too."

Taking an Inside Look

at President's Home

Before Jim Doti took the helm of the university in 1991, the couple lived in Anaheim Hills. "It was an inaccessible house with little parking," Lynne Doti said. "So, when Jim became president, we went looking for something larger and found the house in Villa Park. We needed a place where we could entertain."

A stroll through the President's Home reveals an interesting mix of collectibles, some university-related, others highly personal. A silver punch bowl belonging to the university sits in a china cabinet in the formal dining room, and original artworks by Chapman professors Jane Sinclair and Richard Turner dot the walls.

A library holds several of Jim Doti's treasured first-edition books--Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage" and Margaret Thatcher's "In Defense of Freedom" among them. Also on the shelf: Joseph Heller's "Catch 22" and Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations."

"These are the special books that have affected me at different times of my life," Jim Doti explained.

A hallway is lined with pen-and-ink sketches of places the couple have visited. "Here is the Loire Valley . . . here is Budapest, Vienna, Florence," a proud Jim Doti said.

Cindy Crawford, the couple's German Shepherd, is the home's mascot. "If you look closely, you'll see she has a beauty mark," Jim Doti deadpanned.

The 11-year-old home's gourmet kitchen was at the center of a recent bash honoring Chapman supporters. The gathering featured fare--some of it whipped up by Jim Doti himself--from Frances Mayes' recipe-packed bestseller, "Under the Tuscan Sun." "We both cook--but Jim loves to cook for company," Lynne Doti said.

The vast backyard, with its sparkling pool, Jacuzzi and lush garden plants, is a showcase for Lynne Doti's favorite hobby: landscaping.

"Every plant was placed under my direct supervision," Lynne Doti said. "Right down to the palm trees. It took us two years to finish the landscaping because when we moved in, the yard had only grass seed and a pigpen."

The Dotis have just begun to personalize the 19-year-old Balboa home. Marine-themed watercolors have been hung. And on a recent sunny morning, Jim Doti stood on a chair to replace an antiquated light fixture hanging over the dining room table.

"Here, Jim paints, fixes a little nick and fusses around because it's manageable," Lynne Doti said. "In Villa Park, he only has time to change a light bulb and take out the trash."

When the couple entertain in Balboa, the mood is ultra-casual, they say. A social evening with a few pals might include sunset cocktails on the deck, a bay cruise on their 200-horsepower speedboat, UTILS ("That's an economic term for pleasure," Jim Doti explained) and an easy-paced waterside dinner at the Balboa Bay Club, where they are members.

Balboa Home Accents the Couple's Life

The couple enjoyed the best of both residential worlds when they celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary. After spending some post-workday downtime in Villa Park, they drove to Corona del Mar for a romantic dinner at Five Crowns restaurant and an overnight stay in Balboa.

The Balboa house features a second-floor amenity that suits the couple's love of the waterfront: a master bathtub with a breathtaking bay view. "You can see the lights at night," Lynne Doti said.

"It's unbelievable to be here," she added, sitting in the window-lined living room of her slate-blue beach house. "Every time we come here I say to Jim, 'Can you believe this is really ours?'

"I've been coming to this area since I was a kid . . . grew up in Anaheim and used to sit on the beach here and study when I was in college."

Said Jim Doti: "I grew up in Chicago, stayed in a beach house on Lake Michigan. This feels like vacation to me."

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