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Community Recognition: Awards and Accolades

We Bring You America’s Most Successful New Town
It Happens In Mission Viejo
A World of Difference, Because It’s Not A World Apart

It is difficult to put into words, and impossible to exaggerate, the legacy passed on to us by the Mission Viejo Company: the dream, the vision, the foresight, the care. Mission Viejo’s uniqueness derives from completely master-planned by a single developer, a developer who cared about building everything as if they were going to live in here, because they did. The Mission Viejo Company was willing to invest millions of dollars -- paying close attention to every detail and doing it right -- and was willing to postpone a profitable return on its huge investment because it wanted to ensure that the quality of life was enhanced and that property values went up so that all the homeowners (who had invested in Mission Viejo) could share in the profits.

Mission Viejo Company was one of the first developers in the nation to promote and implement energy-conscious design and maintenance programs. Because Mission Viejo was owned, planned and developed by a single company, it had a unique opportunity to implement ambitious, largescale energy-saving projects by amortizing the costs over a long period of time and over thousands of housing units. The Company instituted the use of reclaimed water and drought-tolerant plant materials on its parks, medians, slopes, greenbelts, and golf courses, and it installed of energy-saving appliances in dwellings, built two experimental solar-powered Minimum Energy Dwellings, pioneered an aggressive campaign to reduce per capita consumption of natural resources through car pooling, bicycling and walking, and launched a comprehensive program to cut automobile travel and oil consumption by distributing parks, schools, shopping centers and employment centers throughout the community. It also installed a $1 million drainage bypass system around the lake to prevent contamination of the water.

Three keys to the Company’s financial success:

First, the Company got the Ranch owners to agree to split and sell the 11,000 acres one portion at a time, on an as-needed basis. Thus, the Company’s first purchase was of 1,000 acres, and it bought the succeeding portions in phases, as it was able to garner the necessary capital from the previous development. Second, the Company used creative financing by developing honest rapport and relationships of trust and confidence with contractors and vendors and then getting them to cooperate and agree to be paid later, in installments, with interest. This cash-flow cushion enabled the company to grade, build and sell on a methodical, quality basis, resulting in a win-win for all parties. Third, the Company generated needed cash flow by selling chunks of land to carefully selected outside builders with appropriate restrictions to accelerate the absorption rate artificially.

Some other innovations:

The Company worked with the County to create, for the first time, an itemized property tax bill, so the residents could see exactly what their tax dollars were being spent on.

The Company worked with the California Legislature and succeeded in combining the water utility and the sewer utility into a single entity.

The Company worked with Caltrans and designed safer off-ramps with bigger radii.

The Company provided affordable amenities and preserved open space in a way that was affordable to future generations.

The Company provided for schools and parks as an integral part of each neighborhood, and they were conveniently placed so as to be within walking distance of every resident.

The Company placed schools and parks adjacent to each other B and ways from heavy traffic on arterials -- to maximize opportunities for joint recreational and educational uses.

The Company paid for the construction of the M.V. High School stadium and the farm, on the condition that the high school would provide an agricultural program for students to raise champion steers and grow crops.

The Company planned for safe and beautiful neighborhoods, with curvilinear street patterns that followed the natural contours of the land, with T intersections and cul-de-sacs on neighborhood streets, and the routing of traffic around residential neighborhoods on arterials.

The Company planned and constructed tree-lined thoroughfares with planted, grass-lined median strips and landscaped entrances to each residential development in the entire community.

The Company planned and developed cluster housing and planned unit residential areas.

The Company worked to prevent vehicular conflict with pedestrian traffic in the shopping areas.

Breaking with convention, the Company built affordable housing first, then expensive housing, and started with less density, and then went to high density.

The Company worked with a street light manufacturer and designed the exclusive Mission Bell street lights.

The Company insisted that the light-industrial and research-and development areas be plentifully landscaped and park-like.

The Company worked with a brick manufacturer and convinced it to make slumpstone blocks in colors that would look Spanish or Early California.

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

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