Beach Haven: Mesa Drive


Introduction to the Enclave:

You just turned off of Birch onto Mesa Drive and things immediately start looking very different. A charming little bridle trail crops up where a sidewalk should be, and there’s a horse trailer parked in every other driveway. Horses in Newport Beach? Welcome to the only equestrian enclave in Newport Beach. This little collection of streets in the Back Bay is home to approximately 150 horses. Some are stabled in the handful of majestic estates along Mesa Drive, while others are tucked away in the backyards of homes throughout the neighborhood.

Bordered By: A business park and Newport Beach Golf Course are located on the northeast side and the estuary is to the southwest. At one time it was entirely an agricultural region, but has gradually been distilled down to this collection of horse-lovers’ homes. The Back Bay lies to the west and Irvine Avenue borders on the north.

Views: There are gorgeous views of the Back Bay from the Mesa Drive estates. Mesa Drive dead ends with additional views of Upper Newport Bay, where you’ll find basketball courts and some extremely large geese who feed in the grass.


Homes: It’s a mixed bag architecturally, with everything from classic little 1950s California bungalows to impressive mansionization, with plenty of California ranch style homes, as well. The smaller equestrian-zoned lots range from 8000 square feet on up to more than two acres for the grand estates.

How the Community Has Evolved: According to longtime resident Jeanne Rodriguez, the area was originally all agricultural. She’s been here for more than 42 years, and remembers playing around on horseback, where what is now full of high rise buildings next door. The only streets with any homes zoned “equestrian” are  Mesa, Birch, Cypress, Orchard and Orchid. Zoning can vary from house to house.

History of the Area: From the 1930s – 1950s, there were expansive lima bean fields where the business park is now. Nothing else was done with the land until commercial construction eventually began. Mesa Drive was originally termed East Santa Ana Heights but was annexed to Newport Beach in July of 2003. This acquisition was said to have given the city of Newport Beach more bargaining power in regard to the John Wayne Airport area.

Community Features/Amenities/Special Events: This little horse-area is thriving! There is about everyequestrian discipline represented. On any given day, the dirt fenced sidewalks that lead to the estuary bridle trails will have a mix of kids on ponies wearing English riding gear with tall boots and helmets, to more rugged cowboy types as well. They all share a make-shift arena in the flood control area. It’s not fenced, and the planes in and out of John Wayne buzz pretty low, but residents are still happy to have a little open space left to ride in. The Inter Scholastic Equestrian League uses the riding arena, as does the Back Bay Therapeutic Riding Club, run by Bernadette Olsen, that is located in the neighborhood. There are more than 150 members of the Back Bay Equestrians that work to promote the horsey environment of the neighborhood. They are working on projects like trying to fence the riding arena as well as fencing their entire bridle trail through the Back Bay estuary. They have even organized a neighborhood manure disposal project. They hold approximately two meetings a year and have a “Spring Cleaning Tack Swap” in the neighborhood annually. The Mesa-Birch Park (at the corner of Mesa and Birch) has a picnic table, benches and a water fountain: a nice place for quiet repose. The Newport Beach Golf Course is a favorite among families with its fun par 3 and 4 holes. The Santa Ana Heights Newport Beach Fire Dept. Station No. 7 is located on Acacia at Mesa Drive; it was designed in an equestrian style to keep with the architecture of the area. At Upper Newport Bay, you can walk, hike, run, stroll with your dog or bike, while enjoying great harbor views. Visit the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center to learn more about the plant and animal life that reside here and the numerous events and activities that take place year round. The Back Bay is a popular kayaking, fishing, paddleboarding, outrigger and electric boat destination, as well as a great birdwatching spot. Next time you think of Newport Beach, think of the ocean, harbor, boats, shopping and now … horses!

Current Market Activity:

Home sales run the gamut in this area; with the estate properties on Mesa Drive listed at $6 – $10 million on down to an adorable little horsey cottage home on Orchid just one block away for $699,000.

There have only been three equestrian property sales in the neighborhood since the beginning of 2010. Here is a sampling of equestrian listings, active and sold:

3 Active Listings

• 20281 Orchid St. with 4 bedrooms, 2 baths has a living space of 1,556 sq.ft. Asking price: $699,000.

• 2148 Mesa Drive with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths on 2.26 acres. Asking price: $6,795,000.

• 2252 Mesa Drive with 6 bedrooms, 13 baths with 6,187 sq.ft. on 1.8 acres. Asking price: $10,995,000.

2 Sold Listings

• 20382 Cypress St. with 4 bedrooms, 5 baths with 4200 sq.ft. Sold for $1,910,000 on 12/19/2010.

• 2192 Orchard with 3 Bedrooms, 1 Bath and 876 sq.ft. Sold for $475,000 on  9/30/2010.

Information provided by Quinn Atherton, Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker Previews International Newport Beach – Fashion Island office. Anyone interested in buying or selling in Newport’s equestrian neighborhood, contact her directly at 949.375.2177 or by email at