El Cajon, CA Condo Property Management

March 23, 2013

Many condominium owners in El Cajon are turning their units over to become rentals, and for good reason.  Rental rates have been steadily increasing over time, while condo sales prices have remained stagnant.  For many condo owners, it makes more sense to rent out the condo unit than to sell it in this real estate market.  Some condo owners wish to hold on to their condos until they are no longer “under water” in order to avoid the credit implications of a short sale or foreclosure.  At Peak Property Management, we understand the many different situations that condominium owners in El Cajon have, and can work with them to make good financial decisions.  We specialize in the El Cajon rental market and can give our unique perspective from a pure property management side (vs. a sales side).  As condo owners ourselves, and former HOA board members, we are familiar with the ins-and-outs of condominium ownership.

For a free, no-pressure property management assessment of your El Cajon rental condo, please contact us at (619) 764-8300 or at info@peakPMR.com.

If you would like an online quote, please fill in the fields below:

La Mesa Condominium Unit Property Management

March 22, 2013


Managing rental condominiums in La Mesa is our specialty here at Peak Property Management.  As former condominium owners and board members ourselves, we are very familiar with all aspects of marketing and managing your condo unit.  From marketing your unit’s and complex’s special features, to providing tenants with CC&Rs and explaining the HOA rules, to handling disputes between neighbors and working alongside HOAs, we take care of it all.   We provide condo-specific options for our clients, including paying the HOA dues from your monthly rent and being the primary contact for communications from the HOA.  All of this…. for a great value!  Our office is in La Mesa Village, making us conveniently located to your unit.

Give us a call at (619) 764-8300 or email us at info@peakPMR.com for a free La Mesa condo property management quote.

You may also fill in the fields below for a free management quote online:


As part of our full-service property management package, we offer free architectural photography to our clients to help their property shine in marketing.  We are committed to becoming your preferred La Mesa condo property manager!  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.


Area Spotlight: Lake Murray

March 22, 2013


Lake Murray Reservoir, located in the La Mesa area, is part of the Mission Trails Regional Park system.  It boasts several walking/jogging/biking trails with the longest being a 6.4 mile round-trip path at the perimeter of the lake.  Visitors may stay on land and enjoy the local flora and fauna, such as ducks and geese, or they may opt to rent a boat and go fishing.  The lake is stocked with the following fish from November – May: Florida-strain largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, black crappie and trout.


Check the Mission Trails Lake Murray website for information on size limits and licensing.

Lake Murray is most popular for its 6.4 mile mostly-flat trail.  To get to the mail parking lot, take the 8 freeway and exit Lake Murray Blvd.  From there, go north and turn left onto Kiowa.  There are two parking lots to choose from, a lower one and an upper one.  The trail is located at the east end of both parking lots.  On the trail you will see lots of walkers, joggers, bikers, dog walkers, and parents with strollers.  The speed limit on the trail is 10 mph, so bikers should be aware of that. There are two portable restrooms on the trail: one at around the 1-mile point and another at around the 1.5 mile point.

Surrounding Lake Murray Reservoir are many single family homes sitting on hills with views of the lake.  Residents find the Lake Murray area to be a great place to live due to its convenient location (15 minutes to downtown San Diego, 5 minutes to SDSU) and its proximity to outstanding outdoor activities (Lake Murray Reservoir and the rest of the Mission Trails Regional Park system).  For more information and reviews on Lake Murray, see the Lake Murray Yelp page.

Corned Beef Hash

March 17, 2013

Do you have leftover corned beef from St. Patty’s Day?  Here’s a delicious recipe for corned beef hash that I made today:


  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil ( I use grapeseed oil)
  • 1/2 red onion (yellow or white is also fine), chopped
  • 8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes*, chopped in small 1/2″ cubes (I use the Progressive Onion Chopper – I LOVE this kitchen staple for chopping veggies!)
  • 3/4 pound cooked corned beef
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 or 2 pats of butter
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil on medium-high in a cast iron skillet and add the onion.  Cook until slightly brown.
  2. Add potatoes and 1/4 cup of the wine, leaving uncovered for 30 seconds to allow the alcohol to evaporate.  Reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook the potatoes until al dente, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the wine, the corned beef, butter, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder.  Stir.  Cover for another 3-5 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.


*Note: It’s best to use Yukon Gold potatoes because they hold their shape and are super-creamy.  Russet potatoes will not yield the same result!

Healthy Homemade Crock Pot Refried Beans – No Lard

March 13, 2013

I really had no idea that homemade refried beans were so easy to make until I tried this recipe at 100 Days of Real Food.  I tweaked that recipe enough that it became somewhat different from their recipe, so I thought creating my own recipe was in good order.  Most of the ingredients are the same, but  I changed the amounts to suit my preference for stronger garlic, onion, and salt flavors.  I always figured refried beans only came from a can and that making them at home would be a long laborious process.  Boy, was I wrong!  I’ll never buy another can of refried beans again.  This takes literally 5-10 minutes to prepare and is absolutely more delicious than anything from a can.  Be sure to do this before bed or in the morning before work, because they need 6-8 hours to cook fully.

Put in your crock pot the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry pinto beans
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 chopped jalapeno peppers, ribbed and seeded (or leave them in if you like it very spicy)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups water

Dry ingredients in the crock pot

Cook in your crock pot or slow cooker on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.  After they are fully cooked, use a ladle to remove about 3/4 of the remaining water.  Mash the mixture with a potato masher and viola! you have healthy, delicious refried beans that are not from a can!  Salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.  They will be a bit runny until they cool some, so don’t worry.

I love to top them with shredded Gruyere cheese and a large spoonful of plain yogurt.   Mmmmmm…..  And a nice way to have them on-hand is to bag them in 2-cup serving sizes in the freezer and defrost when you’re ready to use them.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine they could be defrosted in the crock pot!


Area Spotlight: Mount Laguna

February 18, 2013

Mount Laguna is located in the heart of the Cleveland National Forest about 45 miles east of San Diego, just off the Sunrise Highway (S1).  To San Diego locals who have fallen in love with Mt. Laguna (like us here at Peak PMR), it is a mountain paradise that is just a hop, skip and a jump from east county.

Gregory pine trees in Mt. Laguna after light snowfall

There are endless opportunities for outdoor activities in all of the seasons.  Just a few of the activities we have enjoyed at Mt. Laguna include:

  • Hiking a trail down to a series of hidden waterfalls and swimmable pools with sliding rocks, a perfect cool escape on hot summer days

    Enjoying the waterfall on a hot summer day 
  • Camping in the Burnt Rancheria campground with its majestic oaks and tall pines (and freezing cold nights!)
  • Sledding in the winter months, sometimes with snow depths of 1 foot or more
  • Yoga and meditation in the woods
  • Hiking small parts of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)
  • Looking out to the Anza-Borrego Desert while hiking at an altitude of 6000′ among alpine trees, a striking contrast in topography

Some of the other activities that are available in the Mt. Laguna area include:

  • Cozy, romantic cabin lodging
  • Snowshoeing in the winter
  • Cross country skiing in the Laguna Meadows in the winter
  • Horseback riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Star gazing
  • Hunting

Considered a gem by San Diego locals who know about it (surprisingly, there aren’t many), Mt. Laguna provides everything we rushed city-folk need: peace, tranquility, fresh air, and beauty.  For us here at Peak Property Management & Realty, its convenience to our La Mesa office allows us to take quick mountain escapes on a frequent basis after the summer workday is finished.  Its proximity  to the east county areas of La Mesa, Mt. Helix, El Cajon, Lakeside and Santee make it an ideal short vacation spot for east county residents.  To get to Mt. Laguna, take the 8 freeway eastbound until Sunrise Hwy and make a left.  You enter the Mt. Laguna recreation area in approximately 2-3 miles and get to the little quaint mountain town of Mt. Laguna in about 6 miles. For more information on Mt. Laguna happenings, check out the Laguna Mountain Lodge Facebook page.

Braised Lamb Shank Stew

December 13, 2012

I love eating nutritious, whole foods as much as possible… and I love making them from other people’s recipes.  Key words here: other people’s recipes.  What I mean is I don’t really like creating and writing food recipes.  I feel like there are gazillions more organizations/chefs/people qualified to do this, who have dedicated so much more of their time to recipe-creation (hello, Cooks Illustrated!) that it just isn’t worth the hassle to try and change them.  But, dear reader, I make a mean braised lamb shank stew and I will now share it with you.

While I have always loved braised lamb shanks, I was never fond of the lamb stock left after the process was complete.  It was always too gamey and adding vegetables to it made the vegetables gamey as well.  This resulted in a hold-your-breath-while-eating-your-veggies phenomenon for me.  No bueno.  To resolve this issue, I tried using one set of broth for braising the lamb and then removing about 3/4 of it after the meat started falling off the bone.  Then I brought in separate chicken broth (homemade, when possible) to finish off the meat and veggies.  This resulted in beautifully braised lamb shanks with delicious vegetables and a rich, lightly lamb-y broth.  Not only did I get fall-off-the-bone lamb goodness, but I ended up with a complete stew to go with it.  Woo hoo!  This got rave reviews in my house, from the hubby and kids alike.  The removed gamey lamb broth can be frozen for future use (sparingly) in both lamb and non-lamb dishes.


  • 3 lb lamb shanks
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp herbs de Provence
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, choipped
  • 4-5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
  • 3 medium stalks celery, chopped
  • 14 0z. can of diced tomatoes, drained


  • Pat lamb shanks dry with paper towel.
  • Combine salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence in a bowl.  Rub lamb shanks all over with this mixture.

  • Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large dutch oven pot on medium-high. Do not let it get to smoking.
  • Once the oil is heated, brown the lamb shanks uniformly (approximately 2-4 minutes each side).

  • Add red wine to the pot and let it simmer for a 2-3 minutes.
  • Add chopped garlic cloves and pour enough water into pot that it is almost covering the lamb shanks.

  • Add 2 bay leaves and a pinch of salt.
  • Once water starts to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for approximately 2 hours or until the meat  separates from the bone and is tender.
  • Remove lamb shanks, placing them in a large plate.  Remove all of the gamey lamb broth, placing it in a large bowl.  Do not discard!
  • In your already-hot pot, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil and add the onion.  Saute for 2-3 minutes, until transparent.
  • Add carrots, celery, and potato.  Saute for a few more minutes until aromas are released.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

  • Add the lamb shanks to the vegetables and ladle about 1/4 of the gamey lamb broth into the pot.
  • Add chicken broth, 2 bay leaves, and a can of drained diced tomatoes.  Sprinkle in some herbs de Provence for a bit of added flavor (optional).  If you need a bit more liquid to cover the vegetables, add water.
  • Get to a rolling boil, then simmer until the vegetables are cooked through, approximately 30 minutes.
  • Try not to eat all of the lamb while standing over the stove, because there are other people in the house who will want some too (I always have to remind myself of this).
  • Ladle into wide bowls and serve with a slice of Italian bread for soaking up juices.


Mt. Helix Homes for Rent

November 28, 2012

Are you looking for a home to rent in the Mt. Helix neighborhood of La Mesa in San Diego county?  We specialize in rental properties in Mt. Helix.  You may reach us at (619) 764-8300 or email us at info@peakpmr.com to begin your search for a property to rent in Mt. Helix.  Here are a few reasons why renting a house in Mt. Helix is a great idea:

  • Peace, privacy, serenity. The rambling hills of the Mt. Helix neighborhood offer plenty of opportunities for peace, privacy, and serenity at home.  The lush landscaping and well-spaced lot sizes afford residents of Mt. Helix plenty of space to spread out and relax.  Most homes are situated on at least 1/4 acre, with the majority on 1/2+ acre lots.  This means you can spend lots of time outdoors around your home and feel like you’re in your own world.
  • Mt. Helix Park.  This is an awesome place to watch a beautiful sunset over all of San Diego county.  The park sits at the very top of Mt. Helix and gives visitors 360 degree views of all of San Diego county.  There are also various events that take place at Mt. Helix Park throughout the year, including plays, concerts, Christmas caroling, Easter services, and art shows.  The recently-added 1/4 mile hike around the Mt. Helix peak is a wonderful opportunity for families to take a stroll together in a beautiful setting.
  • Ideal location.  Mt. Helix is located just 10 minutes from San Diego State University (SDSU), 20 minutes from downtown San Diego, 20 minutes from the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, and 25 minutes to beaches.  Its location is ideal for anyone looking to be close to the city and all its benefits, yet far away from the traffic and congestion that comes with city life.
  • Excellent schools.  Most homes in Mt. Helix are part of two excellent school systems:  La Mesa/Spring Valley School District and the Cajon Valley Union School District.  Both districts receive stellar ratings and offer residents a multitude of opportunities for their children.
  • Proximity to shopping.  Despite its rural feel, Mt. Helix is actually situated very close to a plethora of shopping areas.  To the west is Grossmont Center, which boasts big brand stores like Target, Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Barnes & Noble, and Pier 1 Imports.  Several chain restaurants are situated in Grossmont Center as well, including Panera Bread, Red Lobster, BJs, and Fuddruckers.  To the east are the large shopping areas of Rancho San Diego, with several large chain department stores and restaurants similar to Grossmont Center.  To the south is the charming La Mesa Village (also known as downtown La Mesa), where you will only find local small businesses.  Several of these small businesses offer unique, one-of-a-kind antique shopping.  There are also several award-winning restaurants – my favorites are Tiramisu, Swami’s cafe, and Cosmos Coffee.  There are several hair salons in La Mesa Village as well, the most popular being Salon Radiance and SR2.

If you would like more information about rental properties in Mt. Helix or to find a home to rent in Mt. Helix, please use the contact form below and we will be in touch shortly.  You may also call us at (619) 764-8300 or email us at info@peakpmr.com.


Thank you for your interest in Peak Property Management & Realty of San Diego.  We specialize in management of rental homes in Mt. Helix, La Mesa, El Cajon, Fletcher Hills, Rancho San Diego, Lakeside, Santee, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, and Casa De Oro.

Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe

November 14, 2012

It’s that time of year…  Everyone is breaking out the hand sanitizer to keep the viruses and bacteria away.  In my daughter’s Kindergarten class, her teachers apply hand sanitizer on the kids’ hands four times a day.  Four times a day!  I almost fell out of my chair when my daughter told me this.  Conventional hand sanitizers contain a plethora of toxins.  Things like fragrance and toluene should not be applied to anyone’s skin, much less a child’s skin.  And four times a day…. well, I just had to do something.  After speaking with my daughter’s teacher and coming to an agreement about the excessive use of hand sanitizer, I pledged to provide the whole class with my homemade hand sanitizer for the entire school year.  I am so relieved that these kids will not be doused with that stuff anymore!

Hand sanitizer for the whole class

My hand sanitizer recipe is made from all-natural ingredients that can be found at any health food store (or online at www.vitacost.com), and it takes about 3 minutes to make.  We do not use hand sanitizer that much in our household, because hand-washing has been proven to be more effective at combating germs than hand sanitizer.  But since we are not always near a sink and soap, I do carry my own hand sanitizer for those times when it’s needed.   The alcohol, witch hazel, grapefruit seed extract, and essential oils are excellent germ-killers.  The vegetable glycerine is used to help moisturize the skin.  And best of all: none of these ingredients are toxic to the body.  So yes, this stuff can be used four times a day without this mommy falling out of her chair.  This recipe is also quite cheap in the long run; buy the ingredients once, and you have enough to make hand sanitizer for years to come!

Quick and Easy DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipe (with links for where to purchase)

Add the following ingredients to a measuring cup:

Mix ingredients together with a spoon, and pour into a spritz bottle through a funnel.  Shake well before using.  Apply sparingly (1-2 sprays, and rub the hands together).

Enjoy the scent of lavender and grapefruit, without the toxic onslaught of chemicals!

La Mesa Property Management – La Mesa, CA

November 4, 2012

At Peak Property Management, we are pleased to offer property management services in La Mesa, CA.  We are experienced in placing high-quality tenants in rental homes, and we have several clients who can attest to that!  We have a special business connection with a professional photographer, which allows us to offer professional architectural photography as part of our full-service property management package, at no additional charge to our clients.  This is a $1400 value!   From internet advertising, to top-notch tenant screening, to collecting rents, to coordinating contractors and services…. We do it all so you don’t have to worry.   If you don’t need full-service property management, we also offer lease-only services.

Renters love living in La Mesa because it has a lively downtown with a cornucopia of small local businesses, great shopping at Grossmont Center, excellent schools, and an abundance of parks for quality outdoor time.  As La Mesa residents ourselves here at Peak Property Management, we are an excellent resource for tenants regarding where to go and what to do in our lovely town.  It is our pleasure to serve the east county area.  Hands-down, we offer the highest quality property management at the best value in La Mesa and other areas of east San Diego county as well.  For more information about hiring us as your La Mesa property manager, contact us at (619)764-8300 or at info@peakpmr.com.  Please fill out the form below for a free management quote online:

Please visit the following webpages to find out more about what we offer to our clients:

9 Reason to Hire Us

What We Do For You

Free Professional Architectural Photography of Your Property

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Property management and leasing agent in San Diego, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, El Cajon, Lakeside, Rolando, Mission Valley, Clairemont Mesa, Allied Gardens, Lemon Grove, North Park, South Park, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach

Peak Property Management
8407 La Mesa Blvd.
La Mesa, CA 91942

We specialize in rentals and leasing of single family homes, condos, townhouses, duplexes, and small apartment complexes. Browse our Rental List for available rentals throughout metro San Diego and East County.