At a normal tide on a normal day on the Southern California coast, ankle-high waves glide over a narrow strip of gold sand. On one side sits the largest body of water in the world. On the other, a row of houses with a cumulative value in the hundreds of millions of dollars, propped on water-stained stilts.
Property value ebbs and flows, but when it comes to coastal real estate "the trend lines are pretty clear," says California state Sen. Ben Allen, squinting in the sun. "And they're not pretty."