Mitt Romney sells La Jolla home for $23.5 million

People visit the beach in front of Mitt Romney’s La Jolla home, which sold recently for $23.5 million.
(File / Los Angeles Times)

Mitt Romney has sold his oceanfront home in La Jolla for $23.5 million.

The U.S. senator from Utah and former Republican presidential candidate completed the sale June 30, according to the San Diego County recorder’s office.

In the 2012 presidential election, Romney’s opponents said the home was an example of him being out of touch as he attempted to build an elevator on the property for his cars.

The “car elevator” house often was tied to Romney’s opposition to the bailout of the auto industry during the Great Recession.

“The cars get the elevator, the workers get the shaft,” former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said at the time.

The sale price makes it the fifth-most expensive home sale in San Diego County history and the third-most expensive for La Jolla. The biggest purchase in San Diego County history remains the 2007 sale of an oceanfront home in Del Mar for $48.2 million. The same house was later sold to Bill and Melinda Gates for $43 million in April 2020.

The grant deed says the Romney home was sold to William Rastetter and his wife, Marisa.

Rastetter has been a force in San Diego’s biotechnology and venture capital scene for more than three decades. He’s perhaps best known for his 20 years at IDEC Pharmaceuticals, where he served in leadership roles including chief executive, president and director. While there, he was the co-inventor of Rituxan, the first monoclonal antibody cancer treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. IDEC merged with life-sciences giant Biogen in 2003 for $6.8 billion.

Rastetter also served as board chairman of gene sequencing giant Illumina for 11 years and has been a director at myriad other local life-sciences firms.

Romney and his wife, Ann, bought the property at 311 Dunemere Drive in 2008 for $12 million. The then-existing 3,009-square-foot home was torn down to build an 8,153-square-foot mansion with five bedrooms, six bathrooms and 65 feet of ocean frontage. It is one of about 30 beachfront homes in La Jolla.

Room for parking in San Diego beach communities is rare. The most expensive La Jolla home sale, $24.7 million at 8466 El Paseo Grande in January, has a two-car garage. Romney’s campaign in 2012 said the car elevator was necessary to create a four-car garage because he has many children and grandchildren. A 2020 assessment of the property, valued at $15.3 million, said the four-car garage was completed.

Romney revealed he had sold the home in late June in a virtual discussion about infrastructure sponsored by the Salt Lake Chamber. It was first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune. At the time, his staff declined to discuss the details, including the price.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in 2015 that Romney had been considering selling the home near the end of its rebuild. The project was opposed by several neighbors and conservationists for what they said was an out-of-place design in La Jolla.

Romney was not the only well-known person to live on the property. The original home was owned by former San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor and her late husband, Bob Peterson, founder of Jack in the Box restaurants.

— San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Mike Freeman contributed to this report.