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NEIGHBORLY ADVICE

The art of living in Laguna Beach

June 06, 2004|Suzie Harrison | Special to The Times

Laguna Beach is a coastline jewel of sheer cliffs, coves, rolling hills and canyons with deep roots as an artist colony. While interest in the arts has escalated and tourism has boomed, Laguna remains a charming small-town village.

Artist Norman St. Claire arrived from San Francisco in 1903 to paint the lagoons, surf and hillsides. Other artists followed suit because of the area's beauty and a desire to capture the landscape. By the 1920s about 300 people -- nearly half of whom were artists -- had permanently relocated to Laguna Beach, which incorporated in 1927.

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Drawing card

Home to the Pageant of the Masters, Festival of Arts, Sawdust Art Festival and some of the oldest art institutions in Orange County, including the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Playhouse and the Laguna College of Art & Design, Laguna Beach is practically synonymous with art. With about 100 art galleries and 18 arts organizations, the art community encompasses both culture and commerce.

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Wow factor

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is a nature enthusiast's dream, part of 19,000 acres of contiguous open space with coastal preserves, trails, lakes and woods. Neighborhood parks are prevalent, with 20 for picnics, play and views. Laguna occupies 9.1 square miles and has seven miles of coastline.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 10, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Laguna Beach home tour -- In some editions of Monday's California section, a photo caption with an article about Village Laguna's Charm House Tour said that the bungalow shown was included in the tour. It was not.

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Good news, bad news

Land is in ever-increasing demand, according to Lysanne Lippe, a lifelong resident and Realtor for First Team Nolan Real Estate. Home values are high and climbing rapidly. Many locals can't afford to buy real estate and opt instead to rent.

Because Laguna is a popular summer destination, drawing crowds to the many art festivals, traffic can back up. Parking can be scarce, but the city offers free trams to transport visitors from peripheral parking lots. The population is close to 24,000, but there are about 3 million visitors each year.

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Stock report

Properties on the market for less than $1 million include 10 single-family homes and six condos. There are 63 homes in the $1 million to $2 million price range and 18 priced at more than $5 million. The lowest-priced property is $599,999; the highest, $19,995,000. Thirty-one lots are for sale.

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Report card

Laguna Beach has its own school district. Scores on the 2003 Academic Performance Index ranged from 790 to 892 on a scale of 1,000.

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Historical values

Single-family detached resales:

Year...Median Price

1990...$457,000

1995...$390,000

2000...$675,000

2002...$800,000

2004*...$1.2 million

*Year to date.

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Sources: DataQuick Information Systems; www.lagunabeachcity.net; www.lagunabeacharts.org; www.lagunabeachinfo.org; www.propertyopp.com.

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