OPINION: La Jollan shares what an FBI agent taught him

By J.R. Sullivan

Trustee, La Jolla Town Council; Former president, REB

Last year was one of the toughest years in a long time for home values. Despite these tough times, 2009 La Jolla home values are up 58 percent from their values in 2000. La Jolla property values have been resilient to market downturns. Please read my interview with Bob Collins, a long time La Jollan to get some insight into what makes La Jolla so valuable.

I felt like I was back in the era of black and white T.V. hits like "The Untouchables" and "Dragnet", only this was for real. Like watching a good television program, I stared at Bob, hanging on each word as he told me a true story from his FBI days.

Glowing with enthusiasm, Bob shared an FBI story from over 50 years ago:

"Say Roddie, I was thinking about taking up golf. Could you show me what a great set of golf clubs look like?"

Without hesitation, the cordial yet over-confident crook opened the trunk to his shiny Yello 1951 Cadillac. Inside was a mint set of high-end golf clubs. Today, such clubs might cost nearly $1,500!

"That's our evidence," said agent Robert Collins as he began to arrest the crime boss of the largest car-theft rings in Birmingham, Alabama.

How did a set of golf clubs lead to the arrest of a major crime boss?

A true insider

Before I tell you the rest of the story, it is necessary to point out Bob Collins' connection to La Jolla.

Since the late 1950s, he has influenced La Jolla's design and growth. First, with Carlos Tavares, Bob helped developed the Muirlands neighborhood. Later as vice president of Willis Allen, Bob and his team handled many commercial property sales and leases in La Jolla. During this time, he also developed a number of commercial buildings, which he still owns.

For many years since 1964, Bob has served on the La Jolla Town Council, where he has reviewed countless proposals for building and development in La Jolla.

Learning Bob's background, I had to ask if Bob foresaw the La Jolla of today, with its irresistible appeal and growth in property values:

"Bob, back in the 1950's, did you know that La Jolla would become what it is today?"

"Yes," he said immediately. "Back then, I could see that La Jolla had all the ingredients to become one of the most sought after places on earth. The geography is beautiful."

"However," he earnestly followed up, "the People of La Jolla are responsible for turning La Jolla into what it is."

The secret

What Bob said next rang as clear as a bell. It explained why La Jolla is so unique and why La Jolla property is so valuable. As you read this, you too will realize that the La Jolla Town Council is vital to protecting the interests of La Jollans.

Bob offered this insight: "La Jolla can easily take a turn for the worse. Many development projects have come before the Town Council that would lead La Jolla down a path of over-development. The Town Council and the Community Planning Association have successfully opposed developments that are too big, block views, diminish parking, are ugly, unsafe and otherwise violate building codes.

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