Mission Viejo. “Has everything really gone according to plan?

Being informed by AOL that I needed to remove some of the massive accumulation of “stuff” on my computer or it will slow down I came across an interesting editorial written by Steve Stern,  a Mission Viejo resident and former Wall Street Journal reporter, who regularly wrote a Viewpoints column for The SV News. This particular editorial is dated Jan 6, 1989, twenty years ago.  Why do I keep all of this old “stuff” anyway?

Steve’s Headline: “Has everything really gone according to plan?”

Last week [Jan 1989] I read in this newspaper [Register’s SV News] that by the year 2010, Mission Viejo “will look pretty much like it was envisioned back in 1965.”

The story discussed estimates demonstrating that 52 percent of the city’s land will be residential, 29 percent for parks, open spaces and recreation, 10 percent for schools and churches, and 9 percent for business. These estimates will be used in conjunction with a 20 year development plan for the city.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Mission Viejo Co’s original plan for the city to obtain a more elaborate sense of history. Moreover, I wanted to learn if the company had anticipated the decline of our current quality of life, primarily related to high-density housing and its attendant problems.

It was not to be, as the company’s spokesperson told me, “We’ve seen the level of your journalism and we prefer not to deal with you,” adding, “we’d be happy to take questions from any other reporter.”


  In my years as a reporter, I’d been “no commented” often, but never completely shut out by a company. I called my former editor at Dow Jones. With six decades of experience under his belt, Joe Guilfoyle knew journalistic ethics, reporting, the news business and corporate media tactics as well, if not better than anyone else I knew. I had always relied on him for guidance in questionable situations.

“They just gave you carte blanche, my boy,” he said, adding that I should try a “back door into the company” for information. I told him that wasn’t available and he went through the litany of reporting avenues I might take, including following the company’s advice.
With that in mind, I thought “I’d pass along my questions to any other reporter that might like to ask them:

Did the Mission Viejo Co., in its original plan, anticipate the near gridlock on Marguerite Parkway during rush hour?

Did the Mission Viejo Co. anticipate the near gridlock in Portolo Plaza?

Did the Mission Viejo Co. anticipate the incorporation of Mission Viejo in its original plan, and if so, by what date?

Is it true that the Mission Viejo Co. has established an action team of employees to lobby against the annexation of Aegean Hills?

Those questions and my concerns are obviously not the only ones that need to be voiced. I spoke to a couple of Mission Viejo residents about their perception of the city, its future and the Mission Viejo Co.

Both, relatively long time residents, articulated praise for the Mission Viejo Co.’s development, but severe concerns for our current environment, as well as the future of our city.

Once a professional who has lived and worked in Mission Viejo for nearly 10 years, said “the quality of life here now seems secondary to profit.” It’s obvious, he noted, that Mission Viejo Co. is “bailing out fast, letting the developers and speculators get away with things that didn’t happen in the past, and are not as quick to resolve problems as they used to be.”

Another resident, who lived here more than 10 years looked around and commented on the high density housing. “We thought those hills would be there forever,” she said, looking around Portolo Plaza, adding that the traffic in the city had become a nightmare, along with overcrowding in the schools. “Did the (Mission Viejo) company plan for that?” she asked.

With incorporation a year ago, our life no longer revolves around the Mission Viejo Co. It certainly plays a strong, but no longer singular role in our present and future. That role is one that must be now played openly, responsibly and apolitically.

Moreover it must be played in conjunction with our City Council, so that our elected representatives may prudently and judiciously plan for our future. Without such candor our City Council will face a difficult time fulfilling the “California Promise” proffered by the Mission Viejo Co.

Larry Gilbert comment. Although I have lived in MV since 1978 I do not recall ever meeting this author. I find his comments, dating back to 1989, regarding the pie chart of our city land use and his use of the terms “high density housing” and “traffic problems” to be worth reviewing.  Improving traffic flow down Marguerite Parkway,  a major arterial parallel to Interstate 5, has yet to be addressed. This road is one of the feeders into Saddleback College for the 30 to 35,000 students attending that Mission Viejo campus.

About Larry Gilbert