About La Jolla
La Jolla is an affluent community located 12 miles north of downtown San Diego, California. Home to about 43,000, La Jolla is one of the most sought-after real estate markets in the country. In fact, the median sales price for homes sold in La Jolla was the highest in the nation in 2008 and 2009, with a median surpassing $2.1 million in 2009. This coastal community features beautiful bluffs and hillsides throughout its inland areas, but is defined by its seven miles of coastline along the Pacific Ocean that provide residents with world-class surfing and other popular beach activities. La Jolla is also home to some of California's highest-rated schools, and is a hotbed for scientific research as the home of the Salk Institute and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
La Jolla's history dates back nearly 200 years, when native Americans inhabited the land. Known as the Kumeyaay, these early La Jollans called the area "mat kulaaxuuy," or "Land of Holes." While the meaning behind the name is unknown, many believe it is a reference to sea-level caves located on the area's north-facing bluffs. Other historians, however, have suggested that the name La Jolla comes from a misspelling of the Spanish phrase "La Joya," which translates to "The Jewel." As a result, La Jolla has often been referred to as the "Jewel City," particularly in tourism ad campaigns. Like most of modern-day California, La Jolla was under Mexican control until 1850, when California became a state.
When San Diego was a part of Mexico, La Jolla was mapped as 60 lots of pueblo land. After California became a US state, the land was incorporated as part of the chartered City of San Diego, but there wasn't much development in the town until a real estate boom brought interest there during the 1880s. In the 1890s, work was completed on the San Diego, Pacific Beach and La Jolla railway, connecting La Jolla to San Diego proper, solidifying La Jolla's place as a popular resort area. Visitors stayed in small cottages and bungalows above La Jolla Cove in those days, and a tent city popped up during the summer to handle the overflow. La Jolla's leadership has always been actively interested in preserving the area's history, and two cottages built in 1894 still exist to this day.
While La Jolla is technically a neighborhood within San Diego, it has its own assigned zip code (92037) and the US Postal Service recognizes addresses within that zip code as La Jolla addresses. In fact, La Jolla residents are the only San Diegoans who do not have San Diego addresses, as all the city's other neighborhoods are considered part of San Diego by the USPS. The community also encompasses its own acclaimed schools, a world-class shopping district, restaurants and an arts community that further separate this coveted community from the rest of San Diego. La Jolla residents nonetheless enjoy all the amenities and conveniences that go with living in one of the nation's largest cities, including the San Diego National Airport, just 12 miles from downtown La Jolla.
Perhaps La Jolla's most important resident ever, journalist / publisher Ellen Browning Scripps settled in La Jolla in 1896. Four years later, Scripps inherited a vast fortune from her brother E.W. Scripps, and would spend the last 35 years of her life to philanthropic pursuits. Scripps is considered by many as the most important figure in La Jolla's early development, having commissioned numerous La Jolla buildings that are now considered historic landmarks, and her generosity was instrumental to the opening of the Scripps Memorial Hospital in 1924 as well as numerous other important facilities throughout the town. Of the 850 structures considered historic landmarks in San Diego, 106 are located in La Jolla. Four of those structures are also included on the National Register of Historic Places, including the George H. Scripps Memorial Marine Biological Laboratory, which has also been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Along with the rest of San Diego, La Jolla enjoys one of the mildest climates anywhere in the contiguous United States. High temperatures range from the upper 60s to lower 80s, and lows rarely dip below 50. The community also enjoys relatively low humidity considering its seaside location, and summer thunderstorms are rare occurrences and seldom do they produce any rainfall at all. The total average annual rainfall in La Jolla is less than 10 inches, allowing residents to enjoy all the city has to offer on all but a few days each year. This ideal climate has attracted numerous prominent Americans to La Jolla over the years, including Hollywood royalty Gregory Peck and Raquel Welch and writers Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel and Anne Rice, just to name a few.
With its mild climate, La Jolla is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all sorts. The area is home to some of the Pacific Coast's most popular surfing beaches, which also provide an ideal environment for sunbathing, beach volleyball and other sandy beach activities. But La Jolla's appeal doesn't end with its beaches, either, as there are numerous spots in the area perfect for hiking, horseback riding and other non-beach pursuits. The city also has numerous athletic facilities for amateur athletes, including dozens of world-class golf courses such as world-renowned Torrey pines, home of the annual Farmers Insurance Open and the 2008 US Open. Like most of Southern California, La Jolla's weather is perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities, and facilities are plentiful for enthisiasts of just about any sport.
Since the late 1800s, most of La Jolla's development has been indicative of Spanish Mediterranean or California Ranch architectural styles. The La Jolla coastline has been under a 30-foot height limit since the 1970s, so there is only one high rise along the coastline. While this limit has driven up prices for coastal property, due to the limited space, it has also made for a cozier beachfront and preserved ocean views for all of La Jolla's residents, including those who settled on the slopes of Mt. Soledad on the town's eastern edge. Within La Jolla are several exclusive neighborhoods where architectural design is strictly enforced so as to preserve aesthetic standards.
Among La Jolla's coastal neighborhoods are Bird Rock, named for a formation sitting off the coast where birds roost each day, Upper and Lower Hermosa, the La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Farms and the Village, an upscale community that is home to its namesake shopping center that has become a popular destination not only for San Diegoans, but for residents from all over Southern California. Inland La Jolla neighborhoods include the La Jolla Village, La Jolla Heights, Hidden Valley, Soledad South, La Jolla Alta and La Jolla Mesa. The center of the La Jolla community is defined by the Muirlands and Muirlands West neighborhoods in addition to the La Jolla Country Club.
While most of La Jolla's housing options are on the pricier side, several of its neighborhoods do have condominiums and townhomes that can be had for reasonable prices. Nearly every neighborhood within La Jolla was designed as a master-planned community, complete with guarded entries and clubhouses that provide fitness and entertainment for residents. Homeowner dues in most of La Jolla's neighborhoods tend to run on the high side, though homeowners rarely complain that they're not getting their moneys worth as the various HOAs are experts at preserving property values and offering amenities for residents.