That sounds like fun! I love the idea of a loft! I've been working with someone looking for the same thing in Orange. You are right about the traffic, it's better going that direction. Of course, all traffic is tough around here.
Definately renting is going to be cheaper....but there are good reasons to buy too. Why don't you send me your criteria..shoot me an email....and I can send you some listings to get started with.