La Costa may have been put on the map by
a legendary spa, but it's stayed there because of the enticing development that's sprung up. And this northern San Diego County neighborhood has one advantage you won't find in some other places: proximity to a really great massage.
A relative newcomer to the party, La Costa joined Carlsbad in 1972, when the city annexed the neighborhood in its southeastern corner.
"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" was decades away on the marketing radar when partners in that city's Desert Inn bought 3,500 acres of prime La Costa turf in the mid-1960s and built what is now the worldfamous La Costa Resort and Spa.
The resort's original 90-room hotel was built so that prospective buyers of parcels of land would have somewhere to stay. The golf course and clubhouse were a big draw, and lots were quickly sold. A full-service spa was built soon after, one of the first in the United States. As the resort grew, so did the surrounding area.
What it's about
The name La Costa is used interchangeably for the residential community and the neighborhood's centerpiece, the resort and spa.
The neighborhood garnered an aura of mystique in the 1960s and 1970s, thanks to the Rat Packers and their Hollywood friends who cavorted at the resort and owned or rented homes around the golf course.
There is some commercial development, but La Costa is primarily residential. With its hilly terrain, many of the homes have panoramic views of Batiquitos Lagoon, the Pacific, golf courses, hills and canyons.
Deepak Chopra threw some good karma into the mix in 2003 by moving his New Age wellness center to the resort.
Good news, bad news
Jeff Dowler, a ReMax agent who moved here from Boston in 2005, said he loves the area because of its proximity to the beach, shopping and freeways.
"We have a large yard, with lots of privacy and views of the golf course and hills," he said.
Twenty-year resident Jerry Farrow, owner of Farrow Realtors, says that when La Costa became part of Carlsbad, a "sibling rivalry" was created.
"In the 1970s and 1980s, it was like there were two cities in Carlsbad -- La Costa on the south and Olde Carlsbad on the north," Farrow said.
And neither wanted to have much to do with the other.
Farrow, who was president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1981, tried to get the two portions of the city to blend. "I totally failed," he said. Even today, there are still differences.
Much of La Costa is postcard Southern California: homes on hillsides with views of the Pacific shimmering in the distance. At the resort, you can play golf on the same course as Tiger Woods, swing a racket where Serena Williams plays or have lunch and a pedicure at the spa.
But it is buyer beware for parents who want a particular school district; they need to do their homework before purchasing a home. Several school districts serve the area, and boundaries are still evolving.
La Costa's housing is diverse, and many high-end properties have panoramic views. Small, older homes start in the high $500,000s and head up quickly; there are also some new master-planned communities.
A three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,700-square-foot ranch-style house built in 1978 is listed for $679,900. There is a listing for a four-bedroom, three-bathroom, 3,439-square-foot two-story custom home with a pool and spa near the golf course, for $1,495,000. The listing price for a five-bedroom, five-bathroom, 7,100-square-foot English Tudor with golf course and ocean views is $2.6 million.
La Costa students attend schools in four districts: Carlsbad, San Dieguito, San Marcos and Encinitas Union. Out of a possible 1,000 on the Academic Performance Index Growth Report, the scores for elementary schools include Aviara Oaks, 897; La Costa Heights, 907; Mission Estancia, 925. For middle school, Aviara Oaks, the score is 872. And for high schools, it's La Costa Canyon, 805; Carlsbad, 775; and San Marcos, 686.
Sources: www.jeffdowler.com, www.farrowrealtors.com, www.lacosta.com, realtor.com, cde.ca.gov.