Metaphorically, if we were to think of the entire Village of La Jolla as our family home, how would we and how would visitors rate our curb appeal? I think that, as we live in a specific place for any length of time, we may not notice the small decrements in its appearance. Take a look at your own homes and decide for yourself whether conditions have declined somewhat.
How much value is lost by a declining curb appeal? This is not something that can easily be quantified, but for anyone owning a home or business in the area, this should be an increasing concern.
I guess I had not really given this much thought, simply because my mindset is that La Jolla is the most fantastic place to live. Beginning about two years ago and since, as we walk to and from points in the Village, the number of overheard conversations regarding the now-infamous odors and the dirty condition of our streets and sidewalks has been increasing dramatically. This is very disturbing, especially when we speak with visitors who claim they have no future plans to return because of declining conditions. There is a saying that goes something like this: “A happy customer will only tell three people, but an unhappy customer will complain to 10.” So, imagine the wide impact that negative criticism could have on La Jolla.
No, we are not representing the tourism bureau. However, since our business is selling houses, we are keenly aware of outsiders’ views and opinions that may ultimately affect values and pricing.
Not long ago, one of our clients who had purchased a high-value coastal property in the Village commented about how he would like to organize a campaign to clean up our image.
At first I thought his idea was ridiculous and that a campaign to clean up would likely meet with resistance in the form of activists wanting to protect the civil rights of cigarette butts, liability waivers, rules, restrictions and other “cannot do’s,” as do many such endeavors. Now, I curse him because every time I go anywhere in the Village my eyes are drawn downward and all I seem to notice is the sidewalks dotted with black marks of spit-out chewing gum, streets cluttered with cigarette butts and loose debris, and overflowing trash cans. Not to mention the misaligned and cracked sidewalks and the patchwork of mismatched sidewalk patterns. Disagree with me? Try it yourselves — just look down during a 5-minute walk on Prospect or Girard.
I can’t help but wonder why many business owners seem not to take the initiative to clean up in front of their establishments. After all, going back to the housing metaphor, if the Village was your home, would you not keep it maintained and clean? If you were to consider selling your home, would you not expect better results by having clean curb appeal? If a restaurant, for example, had as much noticeable griminess on the inside as on the outside, would people still eat there?
So, let’s not walk away from the question without some serious consideration. How much resale value might be forfeited because of our declining curb appeal, how much in business revenues might be forfeited due to fewer visitors or those who can’t stomach eating a meal while smelling foul odors? If we want to people to come inside our home for a longer look, shouldn’t we make the outside more inviting?
Because curb appeal is so subjective, statistics are not readily available and if they were, they might not be reliable. A recent real-estate article appearing in a trade publication suggested that 63 percent of people who drive by a for-sale house elect not to go inside because of the negative curb appeal. If this statistic is reasonable, then how many people might be driving by our metaphoric Village of La Jolla home and not stopping in for a closer look?
If you have any questions about real estate in San Diego, send your inquiries to Charles Schevker, or Natasha Alexander at Cschevker@san.rr.com. They will respond directly to you, and those questions that have a broader public appeal will be published along with our next column in La Jolla Today.