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Anthony Corso | Stratford Court


Edelweiss House. Photo Anthony Corso


What originally attracted me to Southern California was an opportunity to work in the poverty areas of Southeast San Diego and Barrio Logan as a professional city planner. The City of San Diego had instituted community planning groups and assigned city planners to work in each community. Both communities were very engaging and participatory. I think a great deal was accomplished especially with the implementation of a Model Cities Program. But that’s another story!!

As for Del Mar, I must admit that my locating here was primarily due to my fascination with the ocean, love of swimming and discovery of a very inexpensive house for sale on Stratford Court. Once I resided here I discovered an environment rich with man-made and natural amenities.

The large, snowy- white Victorian Edelweiss house on 10th street was in my back yard with its gardens, chickens and delightful European sisters who owned it and never resisted chatting across the fence. Although as a “city boy” I found it difficult to talk “chicken talk.”

Next were the ever present Torrey pines with their gigantic limbs and mysterious height. I had a reccurring fantasy of draping Christmas lights upon one in mid-December.

It wasn’t until my professional work reached completion that I was able to socialize with some of the neighbors and discovered that I had landed in a virtual “New-Age Community.” While they weren’t the urbanites I surrounded myself with in San Francisco, they were nevertheless interesting and at times provocative! In many respects, this was an incubator for holistic, alternative medicine, metaphysics, transpersonal psychology, transcendental meditation, various forms of group therapy and the authoring of journals and publications related to new age subjects-such as Psychology Today.

I would be remiss as a city planner if I didn’t relate my fascination with the eclectic architecture of the “Del Mar Village.” I frequently walked in my neighborhood west of Camino Del Mar- intrigued with the small homes and cottages which housed early Del Marians. The homes seemed to have a close relationship with one to another, attested to a strong sense of community and avoided any attempt to dominate neighbors with a display of excessive bulk or size. I sometimes felt that I was living in a cooperative village, removed from the cacophony of nearby city development.

Presently, as they say, “Times they are a changing” and we see bitter disputes about proposed development that would destroy views and privacy, overwhelm the neighborhood with their bulk and mass, displace older and more interesting homes and contribute to a sense of dissension and alienation. In an attempt to address such development we, and other communities, have resorted to increased legislation and review processes. Unfortunately not everyone believes in respecting the rights of others and nurturing a positive sense of community.
I believe that while we can’t revive the physical Del Mar of the past; we can create a contemporary community that has all of the interpersonal characteristics previously cherished. This will take continual dialogue, volunteering with groups and organization that are community-centered and the fostering of an unselfish spirit that acknowledges “our lives are about more than ourselves.”

This article is the 6th in a series presented by the Sandpiper editors. Previous pieces: Sam Borgese, October 2011; Art Olson, November 2011; Sherryl Parks, December 2011; Ann Gardner, February 2012, and Virginia Lawrence, March 2012.


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