Ask a few dozen people from Mission Viejo to name their favorite city park and you may not hear the same answer twice. That is because this small suburb in Orange County has nearly 50 city parks to choose from. Among these is M. M. O’Neill Park, named after the matriarch of an early ranching family, who famously said:
“Take care of the land, and the land will take care of you.”
-Marguerite M. O’Neill (1879 – 1981)
The city’s developers certainly took this advice to heart when they built Mission Viejo in the 1960s. They took extraordinary measures to preserve and enhance the area’s natural beauty – not because it always made financial sense, but because it was the right thing to do.
Here are some examples of how residents and city planners in Mission Viejo care for their community:
Reducing vehicle traffic
Based on DMV registration records, there are more than 34 million vehicles on the streets of California. That is nearly one vehicle for every man, woman, and child in the state. Early in its history, Mission Viejo made it a priority to avoid the congestion and pollution that come with excessive personal vehicle use. It achieved this goal by:
- Evenly distributing schools, parks, and other amenities so they are within walking distance of every home in the city
- Constructing a network of pedestrian and bike paths, including a three-mile loop around Lake Mission Viejo
- Offering local shuttle buses (powered by natural gas) at no cost to city residents.
Encouraging lifelong residency
Given the relative affluence of southern Orange County, Mission Viejo’s developers could have maximized their return on investment by constructing only high-end homes. Instead, they built homes across the price spectrum, in order to attract families with modest incomes as well. This allows young families to settle here and then upgrade to a more expensive home when they are financially able – without ever having to leave the city.
Creating outdoor recreational opportunities
California dominates the list of sunniest U.S. cities. In fact, we are the only state with two major population centers (Sacramento and Los Angeles) that enjoy sunshine more than 70 percent of the time. Mission Viejo takes full advantage of Mother Nature’s gift by offering a variety of outdoor activities, including “geocaching,” a local scavenger hunt game for today’s tech-savvy youth.
The area of Saddleback Valley where Mission Viejo is located was once entirely devoid of trees (by some accounts, there were exactly 11 trees growing here prior to development). The tree count is now approximately one million. Varieties include:
- Honey Locust
- Crepe Myrtle
The National Arbor Day Foundation has named Mission Viejo a “Tree City USA” award recipient five times. This year, in celebration of Earth Day 2017, residents gathered to plant trees and shrubs, pick up litter, and enjoy free hotdogs and ice cream.
Solving the city’s unique water usage problem
Lake Mission Viejo is a large recreational reservoir popular for swimming, boating, fishing, and more. The lake was constructed in the 1970s and includes a drainage diversion system that was state-of-the-art at that time. The system directs urban runoff around the lake to prevent contamination. However, recent drought conditions have made maintaining the lake with drinking water less tenable.
As reported by local media, the city decided to launch an ambitious and innovative program to address the problem. It will now use reclaimed, highly-treated wastewater to fill the lake. Millions of gallons of drinking water will be preserved for household use. Meanwhile, the program’s strict environmental standards will ensure recreational visitors can enjoy the lake in the same ways they always have.
Just like Mission Viejo’s developers, we believe in doing the right thing; and at Neale & Fhima, we believe auto manufacturers should do the right thing when a new car turns out to be defective. Unfortunately, manufacturers sometimes put their own interests first. If this has been your experience, please contact us for advice on filing a lemon law claim in California.