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Mission Viejo Milestones, 1963-2014


Donald Bren, Philip J. Reilly, and James Toepfer purchase the northern 10,000 acres of Rancho Mission Viejo from the O’Neill family.

Mission Viejo Company is formed as a land development and home building firm, comprising three executives, one bookkeeper and one secretary, who begin the planning of the community of Mission Viejo.

James Toepfer begins formulating the master plan and design guidelines.


The Mission Viejo Master Plan, Planned Community Text, and General Plan Map are written by James Toepfer, with assistance of Philip Reilly, and approval of Donald Bren.

Master Plan approved by City of San Juan Capistrano.

Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) rules that Mission Viejo should not be annexed to City of San Juan Capistrano, but rather should remain unincorporated, with all services and approvals to be provided by the County.

Construction begins on La Paz bridge (railroad overcross).

Donald Bren creates signature mission bell street light icon and chooses new slumpstone motif.


Mission Viejo Company’s general plan of development (Planned Community Text and Map), is adopted by Orange County.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors approve the Mission Viejo Company’s Master Plan to develop 30,000 homes and business properties on the acreage.

The first homes (yet unbuilt) in Mission Viejo are offered for sale (purchase price = $21,000).

Population = 0


 The first families move into Mission Viejo (the Deane Homes).

Groundbreaking ceremonies are held for the five-acre La Paz Plaza, a village shopping center at La Paz and Chrisanta, and for the Mission Viejo Post Office, which is in the La Paz Plaza.

Mission Viejo High School is built and dedicated on 55-acre site.

The first high school football game pitted Mission Viejo High school Diablos against the El Modena Vanguards.

The community’s first church, Mount of Olives Lutheran Church, is dedicated.


The Mission Viejo Activities Committee is created by the Mission Viejo Company to organize special seasonal events throughout each year.

First golf course, the Mission Viejo Golf Club – designed by Robert Trent Jones and so challenging it was dubbed “Mission Impossible” -- welcomes its first foursome to its 18-hole championship greens.

Mission Viejo Country Inn opens, overlooking the Mission Viejo Golf Course and serving the best roast beef in the County.

First school, Marguerite O’Neill Elementary School, is dedicated, with its adjacent park.

La Paz Plaza Shopping Village opens for business with a daylong celebration.

The first residents move into the community’s newest neighborhood of El Dorado, and another new homes series, Monterey Master, begins sales.

The Mission Viejo Homeowners’ Association -- MV’s first local governmental body, political action group, and community activity organization – is formed.

The electorate votes to create a South Orange County Community College district, with campuses to be built in the Saddleback Valley and in Irvine.

The year ends with the first annual Mission Viejo Christmas program  - Five Nights of Christmas.


Mission Viejo Nadadores Swim Team is formed.

First recreation center, the $400,000 Montanoso Recreation Center, opens, with a 25-meter racing pool, tennis courts, and a large clubhouse.

First annual Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Granada and Mission Ridge Homes make sales debuts.

First annual Fourth of July Parade and Picnic held.

Governor Ronald Reagan dedicates Saddleback Community College’s temporary campus (in portables at the site of the future Mission Hospital) on the first day of classes for 1,300 students.

In September, the first annual Mission Viejo Days – a five-day extravaganza – is held.

Linda Vista Elementary School opens, with its adjacent park.

Population reaches 6,500. 


Construction begins on 126-bed Mission Community Hospital and on the La Paz Medical/Dental Center.

Voters approve bond measure to build the permanent Saddleback College campus.

Burroughs Corp. and Sperry  Corp. (UNISYS) builds and opens a $16 million plant in newly created Mission Viejo Industrial Park.

La Paz Intermediate School opens.

First annual Halloween Haunted House at Montanoso Recreation Center is held.

Population = 8,765


Philip Morris Company assumes operating control of the Mission Viejo Company.

Construction begins on Viejo Elementary School.

Completion and opening of a 28-acre La Paz Medical/Dental Center.

The first permanent fire station (Station 24) is opened.

Mission Hospital Regional Medical Centers opens, becoming the largest medical center in South Orange County.

Permanent campus of Saddleback College is dedicated by Congressman James B. Utt.

New parks adjacent to the El Dorado and Granada neighborhoods are completed on three-acre sites.

Mission Viejo Little League and Bobby Sox begins.

The first annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the first annual Fourth of July Parade is held.

Sierra Recreation Center, a 25-acre outdoor facility, is completed.

Wilderness Glen opens – a 26-acre natural estate.

First movie theater – Cinema Viejo – opens.

Population = 13,000


Mission Viejo Branch Library opens on Chrisanta, on a site donated by Mission Viejo Company.  Its size is 9,155 square feet, a size designed to serve a population of 11,900.

Mission Viejo Company opens the Madrid and Aliso Villa neighborhoods.


Philip Morris, Inc., completes its acquisition of Mission Viejo Company.

The first residents move into the new Barcelona Homes neighborhood.

The $ 2-million Marguerite Recreation Center opens, with seven tennis courts, two sand volleyball courts, and a 5,000-square-foot Olympic-size pool.

Inaugural Seville Grand Prix is held.

First annual Tour de Mission Viejo Bike Race is held.

Population = 20,000


A new political body, the Mission Viejo Municipal Advisory Council – an advisory body to the Orange County Board of Supervisors – is established by voter referendum (following LAFCO’s granting of a petition), in order to gain more local control and as a first step toward eventual incorporation.

Mission Viejo hosts 15th annual Los Angeles Invitational Swim Meet after L.A. Invitational Swimming Championships relocate to MV after 14 years in Los Angeles, giving MV national recognition.

Four members of the Nadadores Swim Team qualify for the AAU National Championship.

Saddleback College Library (first building on permanent campus) opens.

The Mission Viejo Beautiful Committee is formed.

The Castille Homes development opens.

The Miller High Life Bicycle Race is held on Mission Viejo’s 1.8-mile course.

Private Casta del Sol Recreation Center opens.


Professional women’s tennis was showcased during the first annual community-hosted Virginia Slims Tournament, featuring such tennis greats as Billie Jean King and Chris Evert.

Mission Viejo hosts Southern California State Road Cycling Championships.

In July, Mission Viejo again hosts the Los Angeles Invitational Swim Meet.

Southern California Professional PGA Sectional Championships held in Mission Viejo.

The community is designated as an Olympic Development Site by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Construction begins on the $11 million Lake Mission Viejo.

A second golf course, Casta del Sol, opens to the public.

Population = 27,332


The community plays host to first of several celebrity-studded “Challenge of the Sexes” – which was broadcast to nationwide television audiences.

Mission Viejo Nadadores capture the women’s and the overall titles at the National AAU Long Course Competition.

Plans to build the Mission Viejo mall are announced.

Renovation of the Mission Viejo Country Club is completed.

The Cordova neighborhood meets with huge sales success.


President Gerald R. Ford helps celebrate Mission Viejo’s 10th anniversary by dedicating the community flag at Mission Viejo High School.

Former Nadadores-turned Olympians Shirley Babashoff and Brian Goodell together win three gold and four silver medals at 1976 Summer Olympic games in Montreal.

Saddleback Valley Seniors Club is formed, with bi-monthly meetings at the Montanoso Center.

Mission Viejo A.Y.S.O, Region 84, is founded (youth soccer).


Mission Viejo’s first entry into Pasadena’s Rose Parade, “A Dream Come True,” wins first prize among community entries.

Second “Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes,” led by such stars as Bill Cosby, Bruce Jenner and Farrah Fawcett-Majors, attracts live audience of more than 5,000 spectators.

Capistrano Valley High School opens.

Mission Viejo Nadadores complete a successful tour of Soviet Union and garner seven of ten first-place finishes.

Mission Viejo Nadadores Dive Team is formed.

Population = 37,162


Lake Mission Viejo officially opens to Lake Association members on June 3, 1978.

Mission Viejo’s Rose Parade entry – “Day of the Fiesta” – is awarded prestigious Sweepstakes Award, first of four Sweepstakes Awards the community was to win for its floats.

The ninth annual St. Patrick’s Parade lures more than 7,000 spectators for the all-day festivities.

The 500-foot-long banana split is offered at the Montanoso Recreation Center.


Mission Viejo’s Rose Parade float, “Water Babies,” garners first place in city category.

Mission Viejo Mall, anchored by Bullock’s, Robinson’s, Montgomery Ward and May Company department stores, opens to thousands of shoppers.

The 800-foot-long banana split is offered at the Montanoso Recreation Center.

Marguerite Recreation Center plays host to the AAU Master’s National Swimming Championships, with 900 spectators in attendance.

Cordova Park opens.

First annual MV Seven-Up race.

Population = 49,230


Nadadores diving coach, Dr. Ron O’Brien, is named head coach of the U.S. Olympic Diving Team.

Mission Hospital is designated as South Orange County’s official trauma center.

World-class cyclists from Poland, Austria, Switzerland and the United States compete in 48-mile Lowenbrau Series Cycling Championship.

First annual Easter Egg Hunt is held at Cordova Park.

Population = 50,666


Mission Viejo’s Rose Parade entry, “Summertime,” takes Governor’s Trophy.

Mission Viejo is represented at the 1981 World Student Games in Bucharest, Romania by Nadadores divers Meg Neyer and Lenny Layland.

Mission Viejo Aquatics Sports Complex is site of the summer’s U.S. Outdoor National Diving Championships.

Mission Viejo residents raise over $3,000 at the sixth annual Muscular Dystrophy Skate-a-thon.


Mission Viejo’s Rose Parade float, “Versailles,” wins Sweepstakes Award.

1000-foot-Banana-Split event held at Cordova Park.

Three Nadadores swimmers travel “down under” and win five medals at the Australian National Swimming Championships.

Fourth running of the Mission Viejo-7UP 5K and 10K Fun Run is held in November.

First annual Lake Mission Viejo Parade of Lights is held in December.


Mission Viejo enters a Rose Parade float called, “Sweet Days of Love.”

Mission Viejo is chosen as the site for the 1984 Olympic long-distance cycling road races.

The Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp was held at Saddleback College for the third time.

In July, the $12 million Market on the Lake shopping center opens with 35 shops and restaurants.

Nine world-record holders compete at the Seventeen Magazine Swim Meet of Champions, previewing the forthcoming Summer Olympic Games.

Population = 55,000


Mission Viejo’s Rose Parade float, “Springtime Magic,” captures the Governor’s Award as most outstanding city entry, marking the fifth time in eight years the community’s float was honored.

The first event of the Summer Games of the 23rd Olympiad showcases the Men’s and Women’s Cycling Road Races in Mission Viejo – both won by Americans – in front of 250,000 spectators & volunteers.

Nadadores swimmers and divers earn Olympic 13 medals -- 10 of which are gold -- in Olympic swimming and diving events.

More than 1,500 spectators witness the traditional Lake Mission Viejo Parade of Lights during the “Five Nights of Christmas” celebration.


Rose Parade Float (“Sunday at the Lake”).

Twenty-seven Olympians from the 1984 Olympics compete in the Speedo/Antron-Lycra Swim Meet of Champions at the Mission Viejo International Sports Complex.

In August the Nadadores win their 44th national team title at the Phillips 66-U.S. Swimming Long Course National Championships in Mission Viejo, surpassing the Santa Clara Swim Club to become the “winningest team in the history of swimming.”

Longtime Nadadores coach Mark Schubert leaves to coach a swim team in Florida.

Trabuco Hills High School opens.

New Mission Viejo Home Finding Center opens (in Melinda Park, at Melinda and Santa Margarita Pkwy).

Orange County announces severe cut-backs in funding for unincorporated areas, including funding for the Mission Viejo M.A.C., and declares that Mission Viejo residents will have to pay “benefit assessments,” to be added to existing property tax bills, to pay for county services.

LAFCO places the question of cityhood on the November ballot.

Mission Viejo residents vote overwhelmingly to form a Community Services District (C.S.D.), often called a “junior” city, to gain local control over parks, open space, streetlights, street sweeping, slopes, and medians, as an interim step toward eventual incorporation.

Mission Viejo C.S.D. is inaugurated -- with the same boundaries as the original Mission Viejo Planned Community as newly elected Directors of the M.V. C.S.D. are sworn into office.


Mission Viejo Company sponsors its last float in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

The M.V. M.A.C. merges with the M.V. C.S.D.

Mission Viejo community celebrates its 20th anniversary  (20 years since first house was built) with a year-long schedule of activities and special events throughout the community.  A special 20th Anniversary flag is dedicated.

20,000th home is completed.

First “Sunset Concert at Lake Mission Viejo” is held, with 5,000 in attendance.

First Annual Triathlon is held at Lake Mission Viejo.

M.V. C.S.D. enters into a joint-use agreement with the Capistrano Unified School District.

An Incorporation Feasibility Study is commissioned by the newly formed Mission Viejo Cityhood Committee.

Population = 60,000


C.S.D. Parks Master Plan is completed and approved and subsequently acquire Barbadanes and Minaya Parks.

Mission Viejo M.A.C. concludes that present Branch Library is “wholly inadequate” as to size, materials, and parking, and the M.A.C. establishes a feasibility committee to study possibility of expanding or relocating branch library.

M.V. C.S.D. accumulates $4 million in unencumbered reserves and sets it aside for future city

Feasibility Study validates that the Mission Viejo community, if incorporated, would be solvent and therefore is feasible leading to the M.V. M.A.C's decision to sponsor cityhood.

Cityhood is approved overwhelmingly by the voters.

Orange County Board Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez recognizes “need for an expanded library in Mission Viejo.”

Population = 63,000


M.V. C.S.D. oversees the construction of MV Senior and Community Center.

The M.V. M.A.C. and M.V. C.S.D. are dissolved by operation of law.

The City of Mission Viejo officially incorporates as a contract city on March 31, 1988.

The City’s first council is sworn into office.

Mission Viejo population surpasses 67,000.


City adopts its General Plan following nine months of work by representatives from Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Traffic and Transportation Commission, the two school districts, the water districts, and the Mission Viejo Company.

Grand opening of the Mission Viejo Senior and Community Center.

1st Annual Walk Against Drugs held during Red Ribbon Week.

University of California, Fullerton, begins holding classes on Saddleback Campus (3 buildings).


City’s General Plan is approved by State of California.

City’s General Plan calls for building a new library in Mission Viejo.


A historic Developer Agreement reached between Mission Viejo Planning Commission, City Council, and Mission Viejo Company, granting the City:

(1) 7 acres for future city hall; 
(2) the four Mission Viejo Recreation Centers; 
(3) 3 parks to be fully developed on Olympiad Parkway (future Gilleran, Curtis, and Beebe Parks); 
(4) 80 acres of open space land; 
(5) $1 million for future park at corner of Olympiad and Alicia Parkways (future Jackie Joyner Olympiad Park); 
(6) the Mission Viejo Home-Finding Center in Melinda Park (future Mission Viejo Heritage House); 
(7) 2 acres next to the Mission Viejo Youth Athletic Park; and (8) improvements of Crown Valley Parkway.

Curbside recycling program introduced.


Library Site Selection Committee chooses parcel at La Paz and Marguerite for future Library.

Aegean Hills annexation takes place after overwhelming voter approval.

Voters reject proposal to build a city hall on Los Altos (too large, too costly, and too soon).


City acquires land at La Paz and Marguerite to build new Library (and future city hall).

Formation of Mission Viejo Library Foundation.

MVTV (Mission Viejo Television) established as Mission Viejo’s own local governmental access channel (Channel 30), which will go on to receives state and national recognition for production excellence.

Mission Viejo withdraws from Orange County Animal Services.

Mission Viejo Animal Services Center (first pro-humane shelter in South County) dedicated and opened.

Mission Viejo World Cup Soccer Center completed and dedicated to host U.S.A. Men’s Soccer Team.

Mission Viejo Senior and Community Center renamed Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center.

Three new parks developed by Mission Viejo Company, donated to City, and dedicated:  Gilleran, Curtis, and Beebe Parks.

Mission Viejo Quilt completed and presented to City.


1st Annual Relay for Life.

City decides to separate from Orange County Public Library.

1st Annual DAWG Walk (Dedicated Animal Welfare Group).

City leases new, larger offices for City Hall at 25909 Pala.


Dedication of Veterans’ Memorial at Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center (Nov. 11).

Laguna Niguel joins partnership with Mission Viejo at Animal Services Center.

Library Design Task Force develops master plan for Library and City Hall.


Groundbreaking Ceremony for new Mission Viejo Library takes place.

1st Recognition of Home Town Heroes.

Grand Opening of the Mission Viejo Library takes place.


South Mission Viejo and North Mission Viejo Little League All-Stars teams each win National Championship.

1st Annual Tierra Nativa Festival (community enrichment program) is held. (combining Earth Day, Arbor Day, National Trails Day, and Volunteer Connection Day).  (300 volunteers)


Mission Viejo is recognized by the Kosmont Company and given its highest rating based upon Mission Viejo’s economic development incentives, its reasonably low development impact fees, and the absence of any business tax.


Grand Opening of newly renovated and expanded Mission Viejo Mall (The Shops at Mission Viejo).

New cattery opened at the Animal Services Center.

New skateboard park facility opened at Beebe Park.

Mission Viejo earns a National Fitness City award from the National Parks and Recreation Association and the American Parks and Recreation Society, for its positive impact on fitness and wellness at the local, state, and national levels.


Florence Joyner Olympiad Park is dedicated at its grand opening, honoring all Mission Viejo Olympians.

Citizens vote to approve construction of a City Hall on land next to Library.

City adopts a Housing Rehabilitation Program to extend life of homes, maintain property values, and preserve aesthetics of neighborhoods.


The Lake Promenade is installed (decorative, landscaped walkway, with benches, along Alicia Parkway) and receives a Cornerstone Excellence Award.

The Potocki Center is renovated and reopened as Mission Viejo Conference Center.

Mission Viejo recognized as safest city in California (for cities of similar size).

Mission Viejo receives state award for Florence Joyner Olympiad Park as the best designed and best planned new park in the state

Mission Viejo named Tree City USA by National Arbor Day Foundation for its efforts to preserve and protect its impressive urban forest of 65,000 trees (first of 5 consecutive years).

More than 2,000 volunteers attend Tierra Nativa, which is bestowed the Gold Leaf Award by the International Society of Arborists for the City’s outstanding Arbor Day activities and ongoing landscape beautification projects.

Mission Viejo earns the inaugural Spirit of Volunteerism Award from the Orange County Volunteer Center for its exemplary use of citizens.

Special groundbreaking ceremony for City Hall is held.


Mission Viejo’s new City Hall is completed and dedicated on March 25, and it receives the Golden Nugget Award of Merit for design and construction.

New Train Depot opened and dedicated (Metrolink and Amtrak) on April 19.

Mission Viejo recognized as safest large city in California (first of many years).

Commemorative Walkway dedicated (between City Hall and Library).

Mission Viejo Library expansion project completed and officially opened (April 15) which also has a new MVTV Studio.

Grand opening of Mission Hospital’s new Cardiac Center.


Community of Character program adopted and introduced.

1st Annual South County Emergency Preparedness Expo.

The Discovery Travel Channel places Mission Viejo as one of the top three safe cities in the nation – a city with “hidden charms.”

Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker dedicated at Veterans’ Memorial.

The Student Advisory Committee established.

Oso Creek Trail linkage completed from Potocki Center to Pavion Park.

Traffic Committee created (under Planning & Transportation Commission).


A third golf course, Arroyo Trabuco Golf Course and Country Club, opens.

Grand reopening of Montanoso Recreation Center after renovation project completed

Dedication of pedestal monuments to -- and installation of a permanent, checkered start/finish line – in honor of the 1984 Olympic Cycling Road Race on Olympiad Parkway, near Lake entrance.

Melinda Park renovation completed.

Wi-fi installed in Mission Viejo Library.

Citizens vote overwhelmingly against formation of an assessment district to pay Southern California  Edison to place high power lines underground.

First annual award-winning South Orange County Emergency Preparedness Academy (9-week program).

Signing of new 30-year lease to YMCA.

Mission Viejo’s Community of Character program wins League of California Cities’ Helen Putnam Award of Excellence and Grand Prize.


Grand Re-opening of Sierra Recreation Center after renovation project completed.

Grand opening of Mission Hospital Education and Conference Center.

Mission Viejo Community Foundation holds kick-off event.


City “adopts” Headquarters Battalion of the First Marine Division at Camp Pendleton.

1st Annual American Heroes Tribute (commenced by MV resident).

Writers Present series launched by Mission Viejo Library.

1st Annual Target Symphony in the City event is held (Village Green, under the stars).

1st Annual Golf Classic hosted by Mission Viejo Community Foundation.

Celebration of 40th Anniversary of Mission Viejo community.


Grand opening of Sergeant Matt Davis Park.

1st Annual Artes de la Vida community enrichment program (replacing Tierra Nativa).

Senior Dial-A-Taxi Program initiated (available 24/7).

Live video streaming of City council meeting implemented.

New Public Arts program (Art in Public Places) is initiated.

Mission Viejo recognized by Chamber of Commerce as Business of the Yea.r

Designated as safest city in California and 2nd safest city in nation (for cities of similar size).

NASA Astronaut Captain Michael Lopez-Alegria serves as Grand Marshall of Walk Against Drugs.

Mission Viejo Library celebrates its 10th Anniversary.


Grand reopening of expanded Norman P. Murray Community & Senior Center (13,500-square-foot addition)

Mission Viejo celebrates its 20th Anniversary of cityhood.

Mission Viejo launches its blog, eNewsletter, and mobile applications (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) to provide latest news, information, and service requests.

Solar power system added to the Shops at Mission Viejo.

Moratorium on rezoning and development of all recreation and open space zones (in response to concerns about potential development at Casta del Sol (greenbelt along Oso Creek).

Crown Valley Parkway widening project completed.


Rose Parade Float – Mission Viejo revives tradition: builds and places float in Tournament of Roses Parade (2000 volunteers).

1st Annual Readers’ Festival, presented by Mission Viejo Library, and sponsored by Friends of Library.

Grand Opening of new Acute-Care Tower at Mission Hospital.

Mission Viejo converts to “Smart” irrigation technology, a computerized system, controlled by satellite, and MV increases its use of reclaimed water to irrigate parks and slopes.

Mission Viejo adds Aliso Viejo to its Animal Services partnership with Laguna Niguel.

City’s credit rating rose to AAA, the highest possible.

1st Annual Teen Community Emergency Preparedness Academy Satellite telephone and amateur radio television capabilities installed in City’s Emergency Operations Center.


Mission Viejo County Club clubhouse renovation and golf course upgrade completed.


Mission Viejo completes installation of solar panel system on top of City Hall.

Oso/Marguerite intersection widening project completed.

Mission Viejo initiates “Access MV 24/7,” an online tool to report problems or obtain information and news.

Mission Viejo introduces 1st food-waste diversion program to process food into compost.

Mission Viejo introduces a new electronic plan-check system, called “Active Review.”

Mission Viejo launches new economic development website:  “Mission Viejo Means Business.com.”


Grand Opening of newly remodeled Storytime Room in Mission Viejo Library.

Completely renovated Tennis Pavilion opens at Lower Marguerite Recreation Complex.

Mission Viejo launches its “Improve – Don’t Move” program.

Mission Viejo introduces a new Middle School After-School Enrichment Program at Potocki Center.

“Safe Route to School Plans” are developed and implemented.


Mission Viejo Oral History Project, sponsored by the Library, is introduced and placed on website.

City celebrates its 25th Anniversary at the Symphony in the City concert.

The “Bears About Town” project is completed and installed.

International Tennis Federation Wheelchair Doubles World Championships.


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