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Community Identity: Preserving the Legacy

Mission Viejo: a magical environment that makes people feel good whenever they step out the front door
It’s So Nice To Have Mission Viejo Around The House
Mission Viejo: Cradle of The Good Life In South Orange County

How did Mission Viejo Company deliver the California Promise? How did the Company remain true to the legacy left by the original owners of the Rancho. How did it capture the casual, elegant way of life that was early California in each home, and surround it with early California Heritage?

The Mission Viejo Company viewed their acquisition of the westerly portion of the Ranch as a stewardship over the land, and the Company promised to honor this stewardship entrusted to it by: (1) taking full advantage of the beauty of the Ranch; (2) preserving the wilderness areas, open spaces, and the natural contours of the hilly landscape; (3) creating buffer zones between the development and the O’Neill Park (and its planned extension, along the entire eastern border); (4) developing a community of beauty, with an early California Rancho theme through the use of appropriate landscaping, architectural controls, and unique Spanish features; and (5) developing a community to which the Ranch owners could look with pride.

Mission Viejo Company honored the Ranch owners by featuring a unifying Spanish theme and a linking Early California motif throughout the community. The Company showed respect for the Ranch owners by being sensitive to the total environment in its development of the land by preserving many areas of open space and a buffer zone around the entire community. The Company showed reverence for nature by planting over 1 million native trees and shrubs (sycamore, California pepper, pine, and California poppies) and by landscaping all slopes and medians and commercial and office developments.

Features evocative of our unique Spanish heritage are the Barcelona walls at the special entryways and major intersections, split rail fencing borrowed from the cattle ranch, and the exclusive California Mission Bell street light fixtures that were conceived and commissioned by the Mission Viejo Company and were patterned after the El Camino Real bell. Also prominent throughout the community were Spanish street names, Spanish geographical names for housing tracts, and a village centre development in the core of the community, creating a focal plaza for community strolling and shopping. It was the Mission Viejo way.

Other Spanish architectural design features include Spanish-tiled roofs, tiled courtyards, Spanish fountains, balconies, thick stucco walls, textured exterior finishes, an earth-tone slump stone custom designed for Mission Viejo Company, wrought-iron gates and railings, and Spanish archways and verandas. In addition, the landscape was designed to portray scenes of Spain: olive trees, palm trees, jacaranda trees, and lots of bougainvillea and lantana.

The Mission Viejo Company executives were creative geniuses in the building industry. Their innovative approach was to create close, working partnerships with the very agencies and groups that other builders view as obstacles to their work: school districts, the County Planning Department, the utility companies, Caltrans, contractors, big business, other builders, their employees, and the residents. Unlike other developers, they were willing to hear the voices of education, the voices of government, and the voices of the people in addition to the voices of the building industry and financial community to reach a successful balance.

Mission Viejo Company was, without a doubt, head and shoulders above the other developers in the country. The Company did not wait for the government to tell it what to do; it seized the initiative and affirmatively worked with groups and organizations to make a better product and to aggressively pursue innovative solutions. For instance, rather than fight the school districts over condemnation proceedings, the Company affirmatively set aside properties throughout the community for schools and actively worked with the school boards in the financing and construction process because the Company felt it is in the Company’s interest to have an outstanding school system.

--written by Robert Breton, former Mayor of Mission Viejo

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