Our Bluffs History
by Richard Stott
(Based on Los Angeles Times articles from 1964-65)
Did you know that our present-day Bluffs was built on what was flat land next to the Newport Back Bay? The land was so flat that it previously served as a runway for aircraft. It was known as the Palisades Naval Landing Field, a satellite airfield for the Los Alamitos Navy Flight Training Station. It was built in 1942 during World War II and remained active until 1951.
Our Bluffs development was built on that flat Eastbluff portion of the Irvine Ranch in 1964-65. The developer of the 300-acre parcel was George Holstein & Sons. Richard Leitch was the architect and Jack Raub & Associates were the engineers. Holstein anticipated the eventual construction of 1,600 units which would have a European sea village atmosphere. The homes were priced from $28,000. (To the right you can see the 1968 Bluffs' newspaper ad)
Since the land was flat and only offered views of the Upper Newport Bay on sites on the edge of the bluffs, the builder created the beautifully sculptured and contoured valleys and hills by scooping out more than 1½ million yards of earth. The cost of this contouring, which provided dramatic view sites for many of the homes, was more than $1 million.
Holstein planned a management system for the development which would provide residents maid service, linen service, babysitting and leasing and selling services. Although these amenities were never implemented, the fully maintained parks, green areas, front yards, pools and planting were completed, creating one of the most interesting, well organized and beautiful developments in Orange County.
In July 1964, my wife, Ruth, and I were building our home in Laguna Beach. One day on our way to Laguna to check out the construction of our future home, we stopped by the Bluffs to view the model homes. We were so impressed with the beauty of the Bluffs that we talked about the future possibility of moving to the Bluffs when I retired. In 1986, 22 years later, we sold our Laguna home and purchased a Bluffs home, where we lived together happily for over two decades.
Mr. Holstein, we thank you.