The land in which Mission Viejo is developed was part of a 52,000 acre cattle ranch know as Rancho Mission Viejo. The area was a hilly region primarily used as sheep grazing land, since it was of little use to farmers. This city was one of the last regions of Orange County to be urbanized due to its geological complexity. In 1960 early developers dismissed most of the land in Mission Viejo as simily “undevelopable.”
Newer communities in Mission Viejo include:
10,000 acres of the land was sold in 1963. In 1965, a master plan for Mission Viejo was approved by the Orange County Board of Supervisors which placed roads in the valleys and houses on the hills, and contoured to the geography of the area. One year later, families stood in line to pay $21,000 for homes on this former cattle ranch. 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. Mission Viejo is considered one of the largest masterplanned communities ever built under a single project in the United States. The city is mainly residential, although there are a number of offices and businesses within its city limits.
Mission Viejo is located in South Orange County and is borded 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. A significant portion of the surface water is held in Lake Mission Viejo, an artificial lake stretching approximately one mile, which is stocked annually with fish and is a private lake for residents of Mission Viejo only.