We know some folks accuse us of being too LA-centric, but Yolanda really does enjoy monitoring real estate moves in many other locales. This evening we took a quick peek behind the Orange Curtain to check on the action in our favorite OC seaside communities: Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Laguna Beach, and Dana Point.
Turns out there’s been plenty of big sales down yonder in recent months, but tonight we wanted to post a quickie tale about a house in Laguna Beach, arguably the most expensive neighborhood in Orange County. And the most expensive neighborhood pockets of Laguna — as y’all should already know if you’ve been following this blog for some time — are the Irvine Cove and Emerald Bay gated communities. We shall discuss the latter today.
Emerald Bay is more than just another posh, exclusive rich people neighborhood. It’s a whole lifestyle. Not only does the enclave have one of the slickest websites we’ve ever seen (for a gated community, that is) but the hefty HOA dues go toward maintaining a staffed community clubhouse, six tennis courts with a full-time tennis pro/instructor, a 1/2 mile private beach, volleyball courts, basketball court, kids’ playground, three private parks, a heated swimming pool complex, and much more. Heck, the community even has its own fire station.
Current Emerald Bay homeowners include UFC billionaire Frank Fertitta III, LA Fitness CEO/owner/founder Louis Welch, and James & Nancy Baldwin, the couple who currently rank #1 (by several country miles) on the top 500 list of delinquent California taxpayers with an incredible $271 million owed in back taxes. (Think your life is stressful? Imagine Uncle Sam chasing you for more than a quarter billion in tax money. Feeling better?)
Of course, buying into the Emerald Bay lifestyle will cost y’all. Though there are about 500 homes in the neighborhood, making this one of the largest gated communities in SoCal, none of them are cheap. Prices start in the $3-4 million range for smaller homes with no view and can easily soar into the tens of millions for oceanfront mansions. Yolanda’s research indicates that the most ever paid for a property here was the $45 million (or so) that German billionaire Hasso Plattner paid for a two-house blufftop compound in 2014. And at least two other properties have sold for approximately $35 million.
Today’s house sits directly across the street from Mr. Plattner’s $45 million compound and was sold to an LLC last month for $15,554,000 by real estate mogul James Slavik. Though the public real estate listing does not include any photos of the home’s exterior, it is a large Mediterranean-style blufftop structure squeezed in between two other big mansions, as y’all can see below.
Anyway, the buyer is a guy from Houston, Texas named David P. Steiner. While he ain’t a celebrity, Mr. Steiner’s name may ring a bell if you follow big business — he toiled as CEO of Waste Management, America’s largest trash company, from 2004 to 2016.
Yes, kiddies, it’s a dirty job. But somebody’s gotta do it — and Mr. Steiner was paid handsomely for doin’ it. From 2006 to 2012 alone, he hauled in an eye-popping $45,581,052 in total compensation, leading PRWatch to describe him as “America’s Highest Paid Sanitation Worker“. Laugh all you like, but trash can be a very profitable business — Waste Management employs over 42,000 Americans and last year (2017) hauled in more than $14 billion in total revenue.
Since our boy Mr. Steiner’s resignation from Waste Management two years ago, he has joined the Board of Directors at Vulcan Materials and also serves on the board at FedEx Corp. Still, he’s found time to enjoy the rewards of sifting through all that garbage — let’s take a quick gander at his new California digs.
The Mediterranean-style mansion clings to the side of a sheer cliff and features stunning southward views that stretch all the way to Dana Point at the OC’s southern tip. The nearly 6,000-square-foot residence appears to be single-story from the street out front but drops down mullet-style to three full floors out back. There are 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, a four-car garage, an elevator, a wet bar, and a retractable skylight.
Perhaps the only amenity missing here is an outdoor swimming pool or spa. But with the ocean just a quick skip away, who needs that?
An examination of property records reveals the current structure was built in 1991 and picked up by the seller — the previously mentioned Mr. Slavik — for $15,500,000 in 2013. That means, of course, that the house only appreciated by $54,000 — or 0.35% — over five years. With taxes, realtor fees, maintenance and closing costs, we would bet that Mr. Slavik lost a significant amount of dough on this place, though it’s not likely a guy worth $600+ million will lose sleep over it.
The master suite has a glassy pair of French doors that lead to a lovely outdoor balcony directly overlooking the entirety of Emerald Bay and the private beach. It’s certainly a world away from those rather dull Waste Management corporate headquarters back in Houston.
Speaking of Houston, Mr. Steiner, his longtime wife Judy, and their three adult sons (Paul, Matthew, Michael) still reside in the area. Since 2006, when Mr. Steiner bought it for $2,355,000, the family’s main residence has been a large brick mansion in the well-to-do West University Place neighborhood.
The Steiners’ Houston residence sports a comfy 6,880-square-feet of living space with 5 beds and 5.5 baths. There are grassy lawns front and rear, a swimming pool, and extensive stone terrace space for lounging and sunbathing, provided the notoriously finicky Houston weather is pleasant.