If you're talking about Las Pilitas, they're real cool folks up there. I've planted several native gardens and buy as much from them as possible. If you're not talking about them, do a search for that nursery. They're super knowledgeable about natives, not so much bonsai but they're open to talking about it.
As far as pines, Torrey Pines are awesome specimens, but I'm pretty sure they like conditions within eyesight of the ocean (who wouldn't?!?!), so Esco might get a little too hot/dry for them. Pinyon pines might work well as they are desert-ish trees. Here in our local mountains we have mostly Coulter, Jeffrey, and Yellow Pine, so those would be the best suited as far as easy growing conditions. I think each of those except for Pinyon has super long needles, but it's worth a shot.
Just a fun little fact, Jeffrey Pines have mature bark that smells like butterscotch when you get your nose right up next to them. I bought a couple 1-gal Jeffrey's to goof with a few months ago, so I have no clue how it's going to work out!
I with pines especially, I think the best bet for a beginner is to get a little bigger tree and work with that. It's really hard to figure out how pines work with only a tiny tree to work with!