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Veronique de Turenne

Paradise Cove - the way it used to be

Old CoveWhen we bought the trailer here in Paradise Cove 14 years ago, a series of bruising law suits between residents and the park's owners had turned it into a risky investment and home values had tanked. We had a tiny down payment and this was the only place we could afford. Anywhere.

It was quiet here, a mix of families and retirees. There were no car alarms. There were very few golf carts. You knew everyone you saw on the beach.

In the parking lot below the bluff, The Sand Castle, a full-service restaurant, puttered along. It was a throw-back, Cape Cod decor on the outside, red leather booths and a slightly stodgy menu on the inside. A loyal clientele of regulars kept it going, though weekends and summers saw in increase in tourists and savvy beach goers. The only time The Sand Castle was ever truly jammed was during the fall fires, when it became a de facto evacuation center.

And then, Hollywood-style, Paradise Cove was discovered. The Travel Channel aired a breathless piece about "Millionaire Mobile Home Parks". A story about upscale mobile home remodels made the Home section of the LA Times (and yes, you might recognize the byline). That story got picked up the following week by Good Morning America, then the New York Times, and on and on and that was that. Within months, the Cove had its first million-dollar mobile home sale. Sure, it was for a place right on the bluff with an amazing view, but still, a million dollars for a trailer? (And no, ours isn't worth anywhere near that. Still, if we were to sell now, there's no way we could ever afford to get back in.)

Since then, two-thirds of the houses on my street have sold at least once, most as second homes used only on weekends. The Sand Castle was also sold and the owners of the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe came in. They've added outdoor seating, outdoor bedding and advertised everywhere. The place is always booming. And now the Cove is brawling, a collision between the brash and fast-paced outside world and what was once a quiet, sleepy, little beach.

Next entry: Face plant

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