Mission Viejo (pronounced /ˈmɪʃən viːˈeɪhoʊ/) is a city located in southern Orange County, California in the Saddleback Valley and has been named the safest city in the US according to a 2007 Morgan Quitno crime statistic survey (compiled from FBI data). Mission Viejo is considered one of the largest master planned communities ever built under a single project in the United States, and is rivaled only by Highlands Ranch, Colorado in its size. As of the January 1, 2009, the city had a total population of 100,242.
Mission Viejo is suburban in nature and culture. The city is mainly residential, although there are a number of offices and businesses within its city limits. The city is planned and features a very large number of single-family homes, some condominiums, a two-year community college, and a regional mall.
Mission Hospital is the largest hospital in south Orange County and serves as the area's regional trauma center. It also offers one of two CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County) locations providing outstanding care for children. Mission Hospital is a critical asset to the region. It is undergoing a multi-year campus expansion, which includes emergency services, conference and medical office space as well as a new in-patient hospital tower. Other medical facilities and offices have clustered around the hospital. It is conveniently located off the I-5 Crown Valley Parkway exit about half a mile from the freeway.
The city's name is a reference to Rancho Mission Viejo, a large Spanish land grant from which the community was founded. There is no Spanish mission in Mission Viejo, and the name is an ungrammatical use of a masculine adjective with a feminine noun. The correct Spanish term meaning "old mission" is "misión vieja."
Recreational activities abound; the city has numerous recreational areas such as the newly remodeled Norman P. Murry Community and Senior Center there are about two parks per square mile. The city has three golf courses, The Mission Viejo Country Club, Casta del Sol Golf Course, and the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club. At the center of the city is a man-made lake, Lake Mission Viejo, a private association for Mission Viejo residents with custom waterfront homes, condominiums, boat rentals,and swim beaches.
The hilly region which Mission Viejo occupies was primarily used as cattle and sheep grazing land, as it was of little use to farmers. It was one of the last regions of Orange County to be urbanized due to its geologic complexity. Englishman Juan (John) Forster, husband of Mexican Governor Pío Pico's sister Ysidora, acquired the Rancho Trabuco (future Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita) from Santiago Arguello. Forster provided fresh horses to American military forces led by Commodore Robert F. Stockton and General Kearney on their march from San Diego to retake Los Angeles during the Mexican-American War. The force camped in Lake Forest along their march.
Early developers in the 1960s dismissed most of the land in the area as simply "undevelopable". In the early 1970s, urban planner Donald Bren, who would later become the president of the Irvine Company, drafted a master plan which placed roads in the valleys and houses on the hills, and contoured to the geography of the area. The plan worked, and by 1980 much of the city of Mission Viejo was completed. During the late 1970s and the 1980s, houses in Mission Viejo were in such high demand that housing tracts often sold out before construction even began on them. The houses and shopping centers in the city are almost uniformly designed in a Spanish mission style, with "adobe"-like stucco walls and barrel-tile roofs. Many point to Mission Viejo as the first and largest manifestation of Donald Bren's obsession with Spanish architecture, which would again become apparent with his developments in Irvine and Newport Beach.
After Donald Bren sold his interest in the Mission Viejo Company. The Mission Viejo Company was headed by Philip J. Reilly, and James Toepfer and the company was purchased as a subsidiary of the Phillip Morris Company. The Mission Viejo Company continued as the master builder of the city. The company expanded its operations and went on to build the Lakes project in Tempe Arizona, Mission Viejo Aurora in Colorado and were the initial master planners of Highlands Ranch, both suburbs of the Denver Metropolitan area.
The Seal of the City of Mission Viejo was designed and drawn by Carl Glassford, an artist and former resident of the city.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 49.3 km² (19.0 mi²). 48.3 km² (18.7 mi²) of it is land and 1.0 km² (0.4 mi²) of it (1.94%) is water. A significant portion of the surface water is held in Lake Mission Viejo, an artificial lake stretching approximately one mile from Olympiad Road to Alicia Parkway along Marguerite Parkway.
It is bordered by Lake Forest on the northwest, Trabuco Canyon on the northeast, Rancho Santa Margarita and Ladera Ranch on the east, San Juan Capistrano on the south, and Laguna Niguel and Laguna Hills on the west.
As of the census of 2000, there were 93,102 people, 32,449 households, and 25,212 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,926.4/km² (4,990.1/mi²). There were 32,986 housing units at an average density of 682.5/km² (1,767.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 53.15% White, 1.15% African American, 0.37% Native American, 7.73% Asian, 0.19% Pacific Islander, 3.82% from other races, and 3.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 52.10% of the population. "Mission Viejo, a safe place! For you and your money" was a common slogan adopted by locals and city council members during the sixties and early seventies and helped to create the thriving Masonic population that settled within the region during the time. There were 32,449 households out of which 39.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.1% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.3% were non-families. 17.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.84 and the average family size was 3.22.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.1% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $52,614, and the median income for a family was $55,716. Males had a median income of $31,849 versus $28,743 for females. The per capita income for the city was $33,302. 21.3% of families and 13.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.4% of those under age 18 and 14.8% of those age 65 or over.
Of the 56,286 registered voters in the city, 31,090 (55.2%) are Republicans, 14,319 (25.4%) are Democrats, 8,790 (15.6%) declined to state political affiliation, and the remaining 2,087 (3.8%) are registered with a minor party.
In the state legislature Mission Viejo is located in the 33rd Senate District, represented by Republican Dick Ackerman, and in the 71st Assembly District, represented by Republican Jeff Miller. Federally, Mission Viejo is located in California's 42nd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +10 and is represented by Republican Gary Miller.
Mission Viejo has a major youth athletic facilities, Mission Viejo Youth Athletic Park. The park consists of eight baseball fields and five soccer fields. It is host of Little League District 55 , Little League District 68, AYSO Region 84 and four competitive soccer clubs: Pateadores Soccer Club, Mission Viejo Soccer Club, West Coast Futbol Club, and Saddleback United Soccer Club.
The Mission Viejo Nadadores swimming and diving team won a string of national championships and produced a number of Olympians and world record holders in the 1970s and 1980s. Olympians included Shirley Babashoff, Brian Goodell, Larson Jenson, Maryanne Graham, Nicole Kramer, Casy Converse, Marcia Morey, Dara Torres, and Greg Louganis.
There is also a soccer facility, now used by the town's youth soccer program, that was used as a training field by the United States men's national soccer team before and during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, hosted by the United States.
Amenities: Skateboard parks are included in some of the recreational facilities throughout Orange County as well such as; Bebee Park, Rancho Santa Margarita, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, San Clemente, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Vans Skatepark at the Block at Orange, Etnies of Lake Forest, and Anaheim West.
The Saddleback College ballpark hosted the Mission Viejo Vigilantes minor league baseball team of the Western Baseball League from 1996-2001. Now the ballpark has a semi-pro collegiate team, the Orange County Fire.
Mission Viejo is served by two school districts, the Capistrano Unified and Saddleback Valley Unified School Districts. Capistrano Unified serves the eastern, northeastern, and southern portions of the city with eight schools. As of 2006, all high school students in the Capistrano Unified portion of Mission Viejo attend Capistrano Valley High School. Students from western Mission Viejo (north of Oso Parkway and west of Marguerite until Alicia Parkway) attend Saddleback Valley's Mission Viejo High School. Far northern Mission Viejo attends Saddleback Valley's Trabuco Hills High School, though most of that school has students from Rancho Santa Margarita and Lake Forest.
Silverado High School, Mira Monte High School, and Pathfinder are continuation and adult schools within the city. Silverado High School provides a day school environment while Mira Monte, which shares the same campus, is strictly independent study.
Saddleback College, near The Shops at Mission Viejo and Capistrano Valley High School, is a large community college in the southern half of the city. In addition, the University of California, Irvine, Chapman University and Soka University of America are nearby in adjacent cities.
Skateboard parks are included in some of the recreational facilities throughout Orange County as well such as; Bebee Park, Rancho Santa Margarita, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, San Clemente, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Vans Skatepark at the Block at Orange, Etnies of Lake Forest, and Anaheim West.
La Tierra Elementary is scheduled to be shut down in June 2009 due to budget cuts. It was chosen due to its small size and minimal student body. The school will remain closed until further notice. Mission Viejo residents refer to La Tierra as "The Little School With a Big Heart." Students there are reassigned to Del Cerro Elementary.
O'Neill Elementary, the city's first elementary school, will close in June 2009 also due to budget cuts in SVUSD. Students in the Deanne Home community surrounding the school will be moved to nearby De Portola Elementary. Students living in the homes north of the lake will be moved to Melina Heights Elementary in Rancho Santa Margarita.
Saddleback Valley Unified