Monster manse for SDSU’s new prez

Four-car garage, pool, Zen garden part of presidential package

The new 6335-square-foot house at 4811 Yerba Santa Drive
  • The new 6335-square-foot house at 4811 Yerba Santa Drive

Eighteen years ago, Point Loma real estate mogul Malin Burnham, along with some other benefactors, including then–Padres owner John Moores scraped together sufficient funds to buy San Diego State University's first presidential house.

The old house at 4545 Yerba Santa Drive

The old house at 4545 Yerba Santa Drive

Though there had been consideration of acquiring a waterfront mansion in Coronado for then-president Steve Weber, the school settled on a mid-century house at 4545 Yerba Santa Drive in gated Alvarado Estates near the SDSU campus.

Weber was domiciled there, as was his successor Elliot Hirshman, who weathered a 2011 controversy over a $148,000 makeover of the house, including $43,000 for a posh new kitchen.

Then, as Hirshman departed last summer to become president of Stevenson University in Maryland, officials took the opportunity to acquire a grander, walled abode to house SDSU's as-yet-unnamed new leader.

Putting green at the new place

Putting green at the new place

"The university has purchased a new house for the future President," Mary Ruth Carleton, the school's vice president for university relations and development, announced at a September 7 board meeting of the SDSU-controlled Campanile Foundation, which raises money from wealthy alumni to pay for such ventures.

The real estate was purchased by Aztec Shops, another nonprofit university auxiliary, to "allow for flexibility with the selling process in the future," Carleton continued. "We will work with the State on the sale of the current property." Further details of how the new house is to be financed were unrecorded.

County records show that on September 5, Aztec Shops paid $2.3 million in cash for a sprawling mansion at 4811 Yerba Santa Drive, down the street from the former presidential residence. The seller was attorney Jerome R. Moe, who bought the one-acre estate in May 2015 for $1.36 million, records show.

"Expansive Patios, Courtyards, Lap Pool, Atrium/Zen Garden, 4-car Garage+RV Garage total over 2000 sq. ft. Property is walled, fenced & gated w/ Beautiful Lush Landscaping," per an online listing for the 6335-square-foot complex.

Meanwhile, SDSU's former presidential home is on the block with an asking price of $1.75 million. "Mid-Century meets modern updates in this single-story ranch," says the listing on

"Four bedrooms include a pair of 'Jack and Jill' rooms with bath, 3rd bedroom with private bath and the piece de resistance: luxurious master retreat featuring a grand bath with view, separate shower, double divided vanities and spacious closets."

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If Aztec Shops has $2.3M available to pay cash for the property, one should wonder about the profit margins. Seems once more that students and their families are paying for administrators living the high life. Subtlety in this case, not through increases in student fees, but from the Aztec Shop profits.

Wow, "double divided vanities and spacious closets"; that's worth $500,000 by itself!

That amazing Mid-Century architecture is worth the rest—unless the renovations were so tacky they destroyed the original interior.

That home is probably larger and fancier than the governor's mansion in at least 25 of our 50 states. Why is it that these university administrators are considered deserving of princely salaries and also princely accommodations? Many deserving students don't get a university education because of the cost. Many of those who do attend and graduate are left with a debt burden that precludes home ownership and even forming a family for many years thereafter. This sort of elite grandiosity is sending the wrong message about state-sponsored higher education, and ought to be condemned by the taxpayers and voters. Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

Another case of administrators living high on the hog while students struggle financially to get an education. There is no state college administrator worth what these do-nothing useless figureheads are paid.

Well, maybe if they put in time also parking cars at all SDSU sporting events, and cleaning the team uniforms by hand.

I want to know what a Jack and Jill suite is. And I hope at this top-of-the-market price, the President is required to host SDSU events at the residence, not outside venues.

A Jack and Jill suite is two bedrooms that share a bathroom which is accessible from each bedroom without going into a hallway. Most middle class folks who live in a modest non-luxury home have a Jack and Jill and Joe and whomever bathroom with access from the hallway.

Thanks for this! I couldn't find out when this term was first used, but I'm guessing it is realtor-speak, maybe used in the building boom after WW II. One google source says it describes the separate sleeping bedrooms preferred by Himself and the Missus. Fascinating.

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