Plenty of room for the kids

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

TEMESCAL Valley in western Riverside County boasts hot springs and cool winters, big mines and small ranches and -- for the adventurous -- a nudist colony. It's home to a national forest and a famous farm and has enough golf (four upscale courses within a four-mile radius) and hiking to satisfy the most ardent outdoors enthusiasts.

Beginnings

Temescal Valley, which is bounded roughly by Weirick Road to the north and Horse- thief Canyon Ranch to the south, sprang to life with the arrival of the Butterfield Overland Mail Co. horse-and-mule coaches that ran to and from the area from 1858 to 1861. In 1885, the Santa Fe Railroad brought settlers.

Homesteaders, who arrived with bundles of citrus seeds, started small farms and ranches in the water-rich valley. The citrus industry eventually eclipsed cattle ranching. The natural hot springs brought spa enthusiasts to the Glen Ivy Hot Springs Hotel in 1879, and movie stars discovered the oasis during Hollywood's Golden Age. Glen Ivy Hot Springs still is a popular destination for day excursions. The hotel no longer exists.

What it's about

Not as crowded as its northerly neighbor, Corona, the unincorporated Temescal Valley attracts buyers who value elbow room, mountain views, hiking in the Cleveland National Forest and a safe place to raise children.

The area, made up of several communities -- among them the upscale neighborhood the Retreat, the mid-range Sycamore Creek, the Trilogy development for active seniors and the quirkily named Horsethief Canyon -- offers some old ranches but, primarily, newer homes with more affordable price tags.

There is scant shopping, although the Newport Beach-based Marinita Development Co. will open the Shops at Sycamore Creek in October, with a Vons market, a CVS pharmacy, a Subway restaurant and smaller stores.

For those who enjoy a clothing-optional experience, the Glen Eden Sun Club, a members-only nudist club, offers heated indoor and outdoor pools, an outdoor spa, walking and hiking trails, tennis courts and 37 full-service RV hookup sites. Some visitors stay at the RV park overnight; some club members rent spaces on a long-term basis.

And then there is Tom's Farms. Every weekend, visitors from all over the Southland converge on this outdoor market, where they can buy produce, wine and cheese, nuts, gifts and antique furniture, and dine at Tom's Olde Fashioned Burgers and Señor Tom's Mexican restaurant.

Insider's viewpoint

Ann Nugent and Russ Farmer bought a slice of local history when they purchased the 8-acre former DePalma's Italian Village 10 years ago for $350,000. Originally owned by Joe and Allyne DePalma, the village consisted of a restaurant, a chapel, a theater and a gift shop, which locals frequented beginning in the early '60s. The property survived floods and fires. A later owner built the house in which the couple live.

"People knock on our door and ask to see the property," said Nugent, a Prudential California agent. "They say they used to come here and want to relive those memories."

The place today includes the 3,000-square-foot house and a guesthouse, which the couple rents out, and a tennis court and dozens of fruit trees.

The Nugents say that they love the clean air and laid-back lifestyle of Temescal Valley but that they would like better shopping nearby.

They go to Orange County for that.

Housing stock

There are more than 8,000 single-family homes in the valley. Currently, about 2,000 homes and condos are listed, including a 1,281-square-foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, for $279,000, and a 4,800-square-foot house with six bedrooms and four bathrooms, for $2.7 million.

Report card

Some students attend the Corona-Norco Unified School District's Temescal Valley Elementary School, which scored 821 out of a possible 1,000 on the 2007 Academic Performance Index Growth Report, and Jameson Todd Elementary, which opened in September and has not administered the exam yet. They move on to El Cerrito Middle School, which scored 732, Centennial High, 704, and Santiago High, 725.

Others attend the Lake Elsinore Unified School District's Luiseño Elementary, Terra Cotta Middle and Temescal high schools, which scored 830, 729 and 712, respectively on the API Growth Report.

Historical values

Residential resales for the 92883 ZIP Code:

Year...Median Price

1990...$160,500

1995...$133,000

2000...$210,000

2006...$567,500

2007...$525,250

*2008...$422,500

*Year to date

diane.wedner@latimes.com

Sources: DataQuick Information Systems; cde.ca.gov; www.temvalleywx.com/tv.htm; www.doslagos.net/history. html; Adam Rush, principal planner, Riverside County Planning Department; developer Wayne Kiley.

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