ABC News' Michael Falcone reports:
SAN DIEGO - From the outside, Mitt Romney's California retreat almost looks modest - as far as oceanfront villas go - but new documents show that Romney has much more spectacular plans for his family's $12 million La Jolla home.
Romney's intention to level the existing structure and replace it with a considerably larger one has been known for months, but these documents indicate the Romneys intend to build an elevator for a four-car garage, an outdoor shower, an enormous basement and other amenities.
Those plans were first reported on Tuesday by Politico.
The home, now just over 3,000 square feet, would grow to quadruple that size. ABC News paid a visit to Romney's property and found an official City of San Diego "Notice Of Application" hanging on one side of the current garage door. The sign indicates the Romneys' intention to "demolish the existing residence and construct a new, approximately 8,105-square-foot single family residence on a 0.41 acre site."
The notice lists several special "zones" in which the home is located, including the Coastal Height Limit Overlay Zone - an indication of the many hurdles the Romneys and their representatives are jumping through to build the newer, bigger version of their Pacific Ocean retreat. That effort is taking time and money, and according to the Politico report, the Romneys have been paying thousands to designers and lobbyists to help them through the process.
It's clear that the Democrats plan to make a campaign issue out of it - another example, they say, that Romney is out of touch with average Americans. As Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse quipped in an e-mail message, "Well, doesn't everyone need an elevator for their cars? Even if you have to hire a lobbyist to secure it?"
The home is located at the end of a long, narrow cul-de-sac in the seaside community of La Jolla, just north of San Diego. The street entrance is perfectly manicured and there is a small tile plaque adjacent to the front door that reads "Fin De La Senda" ("End Of The Path").
Romney spent last weekend at the vacation home, and reporters who visited encountered a temporary staging area on the street set up by the U.S. Secret Service, whose agents now protect the former Massachusetts governor and presidential hopeful.
The real draw of the property is its unobstructed view of the beach and Pacific Ocean. A concrete seawall and locked gate separates the waves and the beachgoers from the Romneys' backyard. The family can look out at the sun-worshippers and surfers from a large wooden deck.
ABC News' Emily Friedman contributed reporting.