Neighborhoods: August 2008 Archives

This is a new series I'm starting, on the neighborhoods of the area I primarily work, which includes La Mesa, San Carlos, El Cajon and Santee. For this one, I'm back on the west side of La Mesa: Connecticut Avenue

This neighborhood is bounded by the San Diego City Limits, Lake Murray Boulevard, and Lake Murray itself, and sits on the side of a hill above where Lake Murray would drain if anything ever happened to the dam. The adjacent area of San Diego City may be a little more recent, but sits on lower softer ground. The block or so immediately north of Interstate 8 does get freeway noise, but the rest of the neighborhood is quiet due to the way the hill slopes.

Pennsylvania Avenue, looking south (downhill)
Down Pennsylvania

There really isn't a commercial road serving the area. Lake Murray Boulevard has a few businesses right around Parkway Drive which is how most people get in and out, but the neighborhood itself is exclusively residential. The views vary from good to excellent, looking out over the Alvarado Creek area and San Diego State, with the properties at the top of the hill having views over all of eastern San Diego.

Lake Murray Boulevard and Parkway Drive, from the bottom of Connecticut:
LMB and Parkway

Physically, the houses are mostly single story 3 and 4 bedroom, 2 bath houses from around 1200 square feet to around 1600, sitting on lots of about 6500 to 8000 square feet. Many have been added onto, and they've pretty much all got individual character - a few were built as fill in or replacement in the 1970s and 1980s, but most were built in the 1950s and late 1940s, before the tract cookie cutter became a developer staple. Many use the older pier support, but concrete foundations became mandatory before the neighborhood was finished. Foundation issues and settling are rare, and those that existed have mostly long since been dealt with. As of this writing, asking prices start at about $360,000, but there are only four properties for sale in the neighborhood.

Here's an example of the typical home in the neighborhood
House 1

Here's one of the infill properties, built circa 1980
House 2

The neighborhood schools are Maryland Avenue, (A Smart Steps Preschool site, according to their website). The Middle School is La Mesa Middle School (formerly La Mesa Junior High), and the high school is Helix Charter. Helix, in particular, has a long record of academic achievement. Here's the most recent account Helix Accountability Report Card

Maryland Avenue School
Maryland Ave school 2

The closest community college is Grossmont, the closest four year college is San Diego State University, which is actually closer.

Here you can see San Diego State University from the neighborhood
Pennsylvania Vista 2

Connecticut Avenue is a very nice neighborhood to live in, with good transportation access. It's two minutes to Interstate 8. You have your choice of several major supermarkets within a mile or so. You can get to Mission Valley in less than ten minutes, downtown in about 20. The San Diego Trolley runs adjacent to Interstate 8, and has stops at Alvarado Hospital and just east of 70th Street, and Lake Murray Boulevard is a bus route. Major shopping centers are found at Grossmont Center (Target, Wal-Mart, Macy's, Theaters and dining), and all the Mission Valley shopping is also very close, as is the park and trails of Lake Murray

Lake Murray Dam and trails, from Delaware Street:
Mission Trails and LM Dam

If you'd like to talk more about Connecticut Avenue or any other neighborhood of La Mesa, Contact me. I will be happy to discuss which neighborhoods might be right for you, or the marketing of your current property.

A typical internal view, from Connecticut and Colorado. Notice all the mature shade trees? It makes a real difference!
Connecticut Ave 2

This is a the another in the series on the neighborhoods of the area I primarily work, which includes La Mesa, San Carlos, El Cajon and Santee. This time I'm moving to the eastern side of La Mesa, the area around Harry Griffen Park and Grossmont High School.

Griffen Park is a couple hundred acres right out of the middle of the area:
Griffen Park

Griffen Park is probably the largest park in La Mesa. There's probably enough grass for a soccer league, a Pop Warner league, and a softball league to hold all their weekly games at the same time without interfering with each other:
Griffen Park 3

The Griffen Park neighborhood is bounded by Grossmont Center, Interstate 8, El Cajon City Limits, and Amaya Drive. The area immediately across Interstate 8 is pretty similar, which shouldn't be a surprise because this was originally one neighborhood that was split when the interstate came through. Once you're off the main streets, it's quiet. There's even a hidden area that feels like the country that you can miss if you don't know where to look.

The double-secret hidden area. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you :-)
Hidden 3

The main commercial artery in the area is Murray Street, which would feel almost like the main street of a one stoplight town if Interstate 8 wasn't right next to it. There's maybe a couple dozen businesses there, and that includes places of worship and Grossmont High School. The rest of the area is all residential except for Griffen Park.

Murray Street, looking west
Murray St W

The homes were mostly built in the 1950s, with a significant percentage being built up to 30 years earlier. There are a few modern infill developments, the largest of which is off Milden Street behind the high school. The houses probably average 3 to 4 bedroom, right around 1600 square feet, on lots of about 7000 square feet. There are more tract homes here than in most other neighborhoods of La Mesa, but they've had the time to get added onto, so when you're driving through the neighborhoods, they don't look like somebody made them all with the same cookie cutter. There isn't much high density housing here - one fairly new townhome project is the only common interest development I can think of. This neighborhood is about 99 percent single family detached homes with no HOA. Not surprisingly, there usually aren't a lot of properties for sale in the area. As of right now, there's one beater with an ask of $300,000, but the next lowest asking price is $430,000, and they go up to $800,000. Families making San Diego Area Median Income (a little over $72,000 per year) will probably need a significant down payment to qualify for all but the cheapest homes in the neighborhood.

The name of this street is Urban, a real misnomer.
Urban N

This is not a dense urban neighborhood. The streets are fairly straight, but there aren't always sidewalks, and other than nosy agents, there just aren't a lot of people in the area who don't live here, especially once you get off of Murray and Severin, where the easiest freeway access is. It's a pretty quiet place to live for the most part, and you would definitely get the wrong impression if you only drove the commercial streets.

Another street in the neighborhood:
Loren

The neighborhood school is Northmont. The Middle School is Parkway Middle School (formerly Parkway Junior High), and the high school is Grossmont High School, the oldest high school in the Grossmont District. Here's the most recent account Grossmont Accountability Report Card

Grossmont High School Entrance
Grossmont HS Entrance

The closest community college is Grossmont College, reachable in a couple of minutes via 125. the closest four year college is San Diego State University.

The back side of the high school on Milden, mostly included because I want to show you the view from the neighborhood to the south. That's Mt. Helix.
Picture 028

The Griffen Park neighborhood is very well connected to freeway access. There's onramps to and offramps from Interstate 8 at Severin Drive, and you can get to CA 125 pretty easy, too. If you're not on the freeway going the direction you want within a couple minutes of pulling out of your driveway, you're doing it wrong. There's three supermarkets within five minutes and you don't have to get on the freeway. For that matter, Murray Drive drops right into Grossmont Center, and you don't need or want to get on the freeway for that, either. You can get to Mission Valley in fifteen minutes, downtown in 20. The San Diego Trolley runs along Amaya and Water before it crosses Interstate 8 to go down into El Cajon, and there's a station at Amaya.

Major shopping centers are found at Grossmont Center (Target, Wal-Mart, Macy's, Theaters and dining), which is within five minutes, and you can take the trolley or bicycle over. Parkway Plaza (Sears, Wal-Mart, Penneys, theaters) in El Cajon is roughly ten minutes, College Grove (Wal Mart, Sam's Club, Target) about the same.

Point of interest: La Mesa Indoor Soccer arena on Murray Drive
La Mesa Indoor Soccer

If you'd like to talk more about Griffen Park or any other neighborhood of La Mesa, Contact me. I will be happy to discuss which neighborhoods might be right for you, or the marketing of your current property.

This is a the sixth of the series on the neighborhoods of the area I primarily work, which includes La Mesa, San Carlos, El Cajon and Santee. This time I'm moving to the eastern side of La Mesa.

Northmont is bounded by Fletcher Parkway, Amaya Drive, and the El Cajon City Limits. Fletcher Hills, just north and east but inside El Cajon, is essentially similar, as is the Griffen Park/Murray Drive neighborhood on the other side of Amaya. It's a neighborhood of small hills with a medium number of trees for La Mesa. Most of the streets are fairly wide, and most of the properties have a decent view - with some being spectacular

Gregory street, looking west. That view goes all the way to the coast
Gregory W

The main commercial arteries serving the area are Amaya Drive and Fletcher Parkway, despite there being only limited access to the latter. The businesses tend to congregate in the three neighborhood malls, at Severin and Amaya, 125 and Fletcher Parkway (the former site of Family Fun Center), and Fletcher Parkway and Dallas.

The neighborhood mall at Severin and Amaya, with Mt. Helix in the background:
Severin&Amaya Center

Physically, there are almost two separate neighborhoods here. Along Amaya and Severin, the homes were built in the 1940s and before, and are typically around 1000 to 1200 square feet, these were originally two or three bedroom, one bath houses that have largely been added onto where they now three bedrooms, and one and a half to two bath. A significant number of these were replaced with higher density housing - apartments and condominiums - in the sixties and seventies. Once you get away from Severin and Amaya, however, the higher density stuff disappears and the neighborhood is essentially 100 percent single family three and four bedroom detached homes built in tracts in the fifties and early sixties, with some additions to those models here and there, but most are fairly close to the original floor plan. The lots start at about 6000 square feet, and I know of individual lots that go over a third of an acre (roughly 14,500 square feet). Asking prices vary as of this writing from around $290,000 for some of the older and smaller ones, up to nearly $600,000 for the high end. People making San Diego Area Median Income may not be able to afford the best houses in the neighborhood without a hefty down payment, but they can buy something very livable.

Looking east across Severin from Manor Drive
Manor Drive E

The thing that stands out about the neighborhood is the hills and the views. Around every corner is another view:

Looking south, downhill on Henderson:
Henderson

This is not a dense urban neighborhood. The streets are curvy, there aren't always sidewalks, and other than nosy agents, there just aren't a lot of people in the area who don't live here. It's a pretty quiet place to live for the most part, and you would definitely get the wrong impression if you only drove Severin, Amaya, and Fletcher Parkway.

City Limits, where Henderson (La Mesa) becomes Croyden (El Cajon)
EC City Limit 2

By contrast, here's looking north to where Severin (La Mesa) becomes Garfield (El Cajon)
Severin to Garfield

The neighborhood school is Northmont. The Middle School is Parkway Middle School (formerly Parkway Junior High), and the high school is Grossmont High School, the oldest high school in the Grossmont District. Here's the most recent account Grossmont Accountability Report Card

The front of Northmont Elementary:
Northmont Elementary

The closest community college is Grossmont College, reachable in a couple of minutes via 125. the closest four year college is San Diego State University.

Norhtmont is a little more isolated that a lot of La Mesa. Nonethless, it does have good freeway and transportation access. It's two minutes up the hill to Interstate 8 via Severin, just across Fletcher Parkway to the newer CA 125 freeway running north south. You have your choice of two major supermarkets within a mile. You can get to Mission Valley in fifteen minutes, downtown in 20. The San Diego Trolley runs along Fletcher Parkway and Amaya in the area, and has a station on Amaya. Fletcher Parkway is also a bus route.

The Amaya Trolley Stop
Amay Trolley

Northmont Park (entrance):
Northmont Park

Major shopping centers are found at Grossmont Center (Target, Wal-Mart, Macy's, Theaters and dining), which is within five minutes, and you can take the trolley or bicycle over. Parkway Plaza (Sears, Wal-Mart, Penneys, theaters) in El Cajon is roughly ten minutes, College Grove (Wal Mart, Sam's Club, Target) about the same.

If you'd like to talk more about Northmont or any other neighborhood of La Mesa, Contact me. I will be happy to discuss which neighborhoods might be right for you, or the marketing of your current property.

This is the fourth installment of a new series I'm starting, on the neighborhoods of the area I primarily work, which includes La Mesa, San Carlos, El Cajon and Santee.

The Maryland Avenue neighborhood is bounded by Lake Murray Park on the north, Lake Murray Boulevard on the west, Parkway Drive on the south, and on the east side, Guessman Avenue and Maryland Avenue itself. The area a little further east off Wellesley Street has a substantially different feel and flavor.

Macrae avenue, looking south:
Macrae Avenue

The main commercial artery serving the area is Parkway Drive, a frontage road for Interstate 8. Lake Murray Boulevard has a few businesses mostly right around the intersection of Parkway Drive, and is a major street, but once you get away from Parkway Drive, there's only four or five small stores, and the Starbucks at Kiowa is the only one that isn't basically a mom and pop operation.

A neighborhood mall on Parkway Drive. People come from quite a way off for the Chickenest Restaurant, just left of center (pinkish).
Chickenest center

Physically, the houses are mostly smaller, two and three bedroom houses of 1000 to 1200 square feet. Most were built on piers rather than concrete slabs. Many of them have been expanded since they were built, mostly in the 1940s and 1950s, and most of the lots are big by modern standards, 6000 to 7000 square feet. Hardwood floors are more the rule than the exception. Foundation issues and destructive settling weren't exactly unknown in the area, but mostly have been long since dealt with where they existed. Most have garages, split roughly half and half between one and two car varieties. Asking prices start about $320,000 and go up to about $480,000 for detached housing. People making San Diego Area Median Income can easily afford this area.

A typical view of the interior of the neighborhood, looking north on Kiowa Drive from the Intersection with Maryland Avenue:
Bottom of Kiowa

People drive by on the main roads in La Mesa, and assume the neighborhoods are the same, but they're not! If all I ever saw was the main roads, I might not want to live where I do, but knowing the neighborhoods, I love La Mesa!

There is some high density housing in this neighborhood, mostly on Kiowa and Maryland Avenue in the block just south of Lake Murray Boulevard. This area includes one of the only two sets of four bedroom townhomes I'm aware of in La Mesa. These are attractive to older people, those starting out with lots of kids, and others who need a fair amount of space (up to about 1800 square feet) but prefer not to do yard work themselves, like small business owners. Nonetheless, well over half the neighborhood residents are in detached single family dwellings.

Here's a picture of the kitchen of one of the four bedroom townhomes (I took it over a year ago). You can't see the vaulted ceiling they have through most of the living areas, but they are very nice for folks who like the convenience, and have their own garages. Play area for kids, pool, clubhouse - all the reasons some people like townhomes. I may not live there myself, but I certainly wouldn't have any objections to doing so!
100_5814

Once you get a very small distance away from Parkway Drive and Lake Murray Blvd, the neighborhood is pretty quiet, and nobody aside from residents and real estate agents comes into it. You do get some freeway noise from Interstate 8 right on Parkway Drive and for a few doors to the north of it, but once you get more than a block into the neighborhood, you'd never know the freeway was there from the noise. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the neighborhood goes uphill from there, so the noise gets blocked out.

Maryland Avenue itself:
Maryland Avenue

Point of Interest: Computer Museum of America and Coleman College, in a building that was formerly La Mesa Bowl, on Parkway Drive. If you you're interested in computers, it's a fascinating place!
Computer Museum

The neighborhood schools are Maryland Avenue, which their website tells me is now a Smart Steps Preschool Site. The Middle School is La Mesa Middle School (formerly La Mesa Junior High), and the high school is Helix Charter. Helix, in particular, has a long record of academic achievement. Here's the most recent account Helix Accountability Report Card. For some reason, lots of people not actually living in the area think that north of Interstate 8 goes to Grossmont High School, but this neighborhood goes to Helix - the real dividing line is approximately Jackson Drive, a mile or so further east.

Maryland Avenue School:
Maryland Ave school 2

The closest community college is Grossmont, the closest four year college is San Diego State University, which is actually closer, but both are very easy for residents of Maryland Avenue to got to and back from.

Just north of Lake Murray Boulevard is Lake Murray Park and Lake Murray itself, with all kinds of recreational activities from boating to jogging and hiking around the lake, to a golf course and driving range just across the lake. There are picnic tables and lots of parking if you decide not to walk over. Usually, there's fishing as well, but there's some kind of shellfish infesting the lake at this writing so that's kind of questionable.

The Lake Murray Boat Launch
LM Boat Launch

Lake Murray Picnic Area (Golf Course is on other side of lake behind the trees on the left) There's a 3.5 mile walking, jogging, and biking asphalt road that goes all around the lake except the dam itself.
Lake Murray 3

Maryland Avenue neighborhood residents find it easy to go places. It's two minutes or less to Interstate 8, and you don't even have to face any stoplights if you're headed west. There are two major supermarkets within a mile, and if you're a fan of fresh fish, there's a very good fresh fish store at Lake Murray Boulevard and Maryland Avenue. You can get to Mission Valley in less than ten minutes. The San Diego Trolley runs adjacent to Interstate 8, and has stops at Alvarado Hospital and just east of 70th Street. Lake Murray Boulevard is a bus route, and I believe Parkway Drive as well but I can't recall seeing one any time recently. The closest major shopping center is Grossmont Center (Target, Wal-Mart, Macy's, Theaters and dining), and lots of other commercial stuff (Costco, Babies R Us) along Fletcher Parkway, Baltimore and Jackson. College Grove (Wal Mart, Sam's Club, Target) at College and 94 is about three miles, or you can get to any of the major Mission Valley malls in about the same time by car.

If you'd like to talk more about Maryland Avenue or any other neighborhood of La Mesa, Contact me. I will be happy to discuss which neighborhoods might be right for you, or the marketing of your current property.

 



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Neighborhoods category from August 2008.

Neighborhoods: July 2008 is the previous archive.

Neighborhoods: September 2008 is the next archive.

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