Beach Haven – Cameo Shores




Cameo Shores aerial shot by Barry Kazmer



Introduction to the Enclave:

Cameo Shores is a small enclave of luxury homes located next to the beach with rows of streets that work from the beach and gradually go up the hill toward Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The Cameo Shores lifestyle gains you access to three private gated beaches of Cameo Shores and Crystal Cove, where great surfing and beach living can be found. Cameo Shores is also ideally located close to restaurants and shops in Corona del Mar.

Bordered By: Cameo Shores is bordered on the east by Pelican Point and two holes of the Pelican Hill Golf Club’s Ocean course, on the north by Pacific Coast Highway, on the west by Morning Canyon and on the south by the Pacific Ocean.

Views: The lots are terraced up the hill toward PCH so all of the homes with the exception of the first two streets closest to the highway have panoramic ocean or canyon and ocean views.

History: The definition of cameo is “a gem, carved in relief.” In the 1950’s, Myford Irvine loved the idea of a Cameo coastal community that would extend from Corona del Mar to Laguna Beach and become the American “Riviera.” Cameo Shores became the first area where the Irvine Company developed using a “bare-ground lease” concept, which is land with no improvements such as grading, streets or sewers. Gilmore Ward, Frank Harrington and Charles Hester (The Sunny Homes Corporation) and the Irvine Company agreed to the concept of a 55-year bare-ground lease. The beginning state of their development was going to be called Cameo Cliffs as Irvine was developing the cove area at the other end of the open land and planned to name it Cameo Cove, having “Cameos” on either end of the land. The Irvine Company changed Cameo Cove to Irvine Cove and Cameo Cliffs became Cameo Shores as several cliffs to the north caved in, which gave the name “cliffs” a bad connotation.

Homes: The area was built in 1960 with a variety of architectural styles (mostly modern or ranch style). The last 10 to 15 years have seen the second generation of homes arriving. As a rule, the replacement homes are much larger than the originals. A significant development was the approval by all parties to allow excavation downward into the slope for subterranean entries and/or garage entrances. The majority of the new homes are two story with much more square footage, while remaining within the 14-foot height limits. This option has increased the desirability and value of the entire area. Cameo Shores is the location of the famed Portabello clean front estate, which recently sold for cash and a land trade at about $49 million and occupies three ocean front lots.

How the Community Has Evolved: Cameo Shores has a number of unique features which really add value to the quality of life, especially for ocean and beach lovers. There are three beautiful gated beaches which offer spectacular settings that rival or exceed those anywhere in the world. Cameo Shores residents also have access to Pelican Point (that used to be stables for boarding horses) which in turn allows them to walk to Crystal Cove Park beaches and to walk as far as El Moro.

Community Features/Amenities/Special Events: The community has family holiday events (Easter, July 4th, etc.) every year in Roxbury Park or at Third Beach. The park features a playground with plenty of room for kids to safely play and climb.  There are a growing number of young families that take advantage of all of these opportunities.

Current Market Activity: As of the week of 5/15/2011 there are two active listings: 333 Milford is 3,557 square feet priced at $2,295,000 or $645 per square foot. This home is a three bedroom with an office, 3.5 bath single story with outdoor dining area and stone fireplace. It boasts an open, dramatic floor plan, featuring a large dining and family area with vaulted ceiling and fireplace. The office can easily be converted to a fourth bedroom. It has beautifully upgraded with French doors throughout for indoor/outdoor accessibility.

Another current listing is at 4527 Fairfield Drive. At 5,032 square feet, it’s priced at $5,695,000 or $1,131.75 per square foot. This spectacular soft contemporary custom-built single story home with spectacular views was designed by architect/owner MJ Knitter, with great attention to detail. There are five bedrooms, all ensuite, plus a powder bath on one level. Situated on a single loaded street with a custom courtyard, it provides sit-down views from the living room, family room and dining room, and offers casual dining and a master suite. The custom entertainment center has DTS, 7.1 Dolby sound surround system, digital sound & 112′ drop down projection screen & 72′ Sony flat screen TV. There is an enormous subterranean garage (3,040 square feet), with room for seven+ cars with access by both the elevator and staircase. Large sliding glass pocket doors open to a multi-million dollar view for indoor/outdoor living at its best.

Several years ago during our last severe El Nino, Cameo Shores’ Third Beach access path was washed out due to heavy water damage and remained inaccessible for quite some time. It has now been replaced. My husband and I have spent many hours at that beach, and he even surprised me with a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner there – complete with a private waiter, champagne and local newspaper coverage.

Information provided by Dianne Allen, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty. Call her at 949.280.6200, or email her at