The next collection of homes at Esencia, known as The Hilltop Neighborhoods, will continue this level of integration around an inter-generational recreational and social amenity called The Hilltop Club. The Hilltop Neighborhoods are slated to debut in Fall 2016.
The homebuilders selected to construct and sell the six new Hilltop Neighborhoods at Esencia include Del Webb Homes and CalAtlantic Homes who will build new Gavilán® neighborhoods exclusive to residents age 55-plus, while Meritage Homes, MBK Homes, Warmington Residential, and William Lyon Homes will build the brand new all age neighborhoods within The Hilltop Neighborhoods. Combined, the six homebuilders will offer 522 homes for sale within six different and brand new Hilltop Neighborhoods terraced along hillsides to afford panoramic ocean and territorial views of the vast Rancho Mission Viejo.
Since 1882, members of the O’Neill/Avery/Moiso family have owned and managed The Ranch which once exceeded 200,000 acres and now includes the family-developed cities and communities of Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Las Flores, and Ladera Ranch as well as such important places as Caspers Wilderness Regional Park, the Starr Ranch Audubon Sanctuary, O’Neill Regional Park and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
Amenities now under construction and/or slated to open soon at Esencia include the following:
In addition, a series of open air rooms and retreats located along scenic points are expected to open within the coming months, including:
Also planned for Esencia are the following:
The first village on The Ranch is Sendero, which celebrated its public grand opening in June 2013. Sendero’s amenities and facilities are open for use by all Ranch residents, including those living at Esencia.
These amenities/facilities include the following:
PLUS, approximately 50 acres of commercial space is envisioned at Esencia for such uses as retail shops and services, restaurants, professional offices, and more.
Today, government agencies serving the vast majority of new master-planned communities in California have found that CFD funding is beneficial to homeowners because it facilitates the early construction of essential public facilities and improvements as well as reduces home prices and down payments by financing essential public facilities and improvements at tax-exempt interest rates, over a long period of time (INSTEAD OF ADDING THE COST OF THESE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE PRICE OF EACH NEW HOME).
Prior to the passage of California Proposition 13 in 1978, Federal funding for key infrastructure was substantial AND local property taxes were commonly 2.3% and increasing as home prices skyrocketed. However, starting in 1978, Prop. 13 restricted property taxes to just 1.0% of assessed home values; and allowed only 2.0% increases in assessed value per year – just as significant population increases were occurring and Federal funding to California for new infrastructure funding was declining. As a result, cash-strapped cities, counties and government agencies were forced to find new ways to fund new schools and other public facilities and improvements to meet the needs of the state’s growing population. Led by California Senator Henry J. Mello (D-Watsonville) and California Assemblyman Mike Roos (D-Los Angeles), the Community Facilities Act (commonly called Mello-Roos) was enacted by the California State Legislature in 1982. This legislation allowed the formation of CFDs.
At Esencia on The Ranch, determination of each home’s CFD tax (aka Mello-Roos tax) is based on the type of the home and its square footage. The CFD tax formula sets the amount of the CFD tax for each home even before it’s purchased; and the tax is then included in each new home’s property tax bills or added to impound accounts. The overall total annual property tax rate paid by a new homeowner within a CFD includes the 1.0% of assessed value per Prop. 13 PLUS any existing government-issued bonds PLUS the CFD tax and all other property tax assessments. COMBINED, that total annual property tax rate is targeted to not exceed 2% of the assessed value of the property and can be adjusted upward each year by 2%.
At Esencia on The Ranch, a CFD was formed to fund a wide range of public projects including the following: the construction, purchase, modification, expansion and/or improvement of certain roadways and roadway improvements (including, without limitation, the Foothill Transportation Corridor improvements and the South County Roadway Improvement Program – SCRIP), tunnels, regional hiking and biking trails, storm drains, water and wastewater facilities (including, without limitation, domestic and non-domestic water facilities, wells, reservoirs, pipelines, storm and sewer drains and related infrastructure and improvements), wet and dry utilities, bridges and pedestrian bridges, parks, traffic signals, school facilities and equipment, sheriff’s substations and equipment and library facilities and equipment, and related infrastructure improvements, both onsite and offsite, and all appurtenances and appurtenant work in connection with the foregoing (including utility line relocations and electric, gas and cable utilities).
The overall total annual property tax rate paid by new Esencia homeowners within this CFD will be approximately 1.8% of the base home prices for owners of homes in the 55+ Gavilán® neighborhoods and approximately 2% of the base home price for all other Esencia homeowners. (Base home prices do not include any home upgrades and/or view premiums.) This total annual property tax rate will include the 1.0% base per Prop. 13 PLUS any existing government-issued bonds PLUS CFD taxes and all other property tax assessments. So, CFD taxes will be a portion of the overall annual property tax rate which is expected not to exceed 1.8% for 55+ neighborhoods or 2% for all other neighborhoods at Esencia.
That means that Esencia residents could pay as little as approximately $3,710 annually and as much as approximately $10,235 annually in CFD taxes – with the bulk of residents paying between approximately $4,000 and $6,750 annually. As a point of comparison, homebuyers in one of the newest areas of Irvine are paying an average of $8,590 annually in CFD taxes while those residing in the newest neighborhoods along the San Clemente coast are paying an average of $9,922 in CFD taxes.
Esencia neighborhood homebuilders are required to disclose to homebuyers their maximum CFD taxes prior to purchase. Neighborhood homebuilders also can provide information about how to prepay the Esencia CFD taxes. Please consult your financial advisor or CPA for all tax advice.
In addition, all Rancho Mission Viejo homeowners pay a monthly master homeowners associations fee through the Ranch Master Maintenance Corporation or Rancho MCC. Rancho MMC funds the management and maintenance of Rancho Mission Viejo’s many community recreational amenities and facilities including each of the clubhouses at Sendero and those under construction and planned for Esencia as well as all the community farms, parks, common area landscaping, hardscape, lighting, trails, and monumentation as well as related staffing and administration. The monthly general Rancho MCC assessment for Esencia homeowners equals $164/mo.
Additional fees will be assessed for other purposes including attached-home sub-associations and/or “special benefit areas” (i.e., covering the maintenance of slopes, alley areas, gated neighborhoods, and more).
CUSD, in partnership with Rancho Mission Viejo, LLC (community planner and master developer), has already selected a site at Esencia for the new Esencia K-8 school campus. Planned to be built adjacent to the school is a community park with a joint-use multi-purpose building, open play area, a children’s playground, and a barbeque garden.
Esencia K-8 school is currently estimated to open for instruction in Fall 2018.
In the meantime, CUSD has indicated that Esencia students will attend Las Flores Elementary School, Las Flores Middle School, and Tesoro High School. For current information on attendance boundaries, please contact CUSD directly at 949-234-9200.
In addition, to help provide a full range of educational choices, students living on The Ranch have the opportunity to select from numerous well-respected private schools as well as several colleges and universities located nearby and throughout the area, including the following:
Among those K-12 private schools now operating within the adjacent communities of San Juan Capistrano and Ladera Ranch are Capistrano Valley Christian Schools (PK-12), Capo Beach Christian School (K-8), Heart Christian Preparatory Academy (K-8), J Serra Catholic High School (9-12), Mission Basilica School (PR-8), Rancho Capistrano Christian School (K-8), Coastal Mountain Youth Academy (8-12), Saddleback Valley Christian School (K-12), St. Margaret’s Episcopal School (K-12), Umana Academy of Fine Arts (K-8) and numerous others in the South Orange County area.
Within the local area are numerous colleges and universities including the following: Brandman University, California State University at Fullerton (Irvine Campus), Concordia University, Pepperdine University – Irvine Campus, Saddleback College, SOKA University, and University of California, Irvine.
While the primary goal of The Reserve is to focus on habitat study and conservation, all sorts of programs and activities (including docent-led trail walks) are conducted year-round – with many offered exclusively to Ranch residents, including everyone living at Esencia. As Ranch residents, Esencia residents will be offered to join-in on such fun events as Knee High Naturalists activities, Rambles on the Ranch, camping, stargazing, and so much more. To learn about The Reserve, visit www.RMVReserve.org.
Under SCRIP, several new improvements have already been made to help address roadway and traffic conditions in the Sendero area, including the following:
SCRIP is administered by Orange County Public Works.
Also included in the County of Orange-approved SCRIP plan is Cow Camp Road, designated in the County of Orange Master Plan of Arterial Highways as an east-west Major and Primary Arterial Highway. Slated to be built in two phase, Cow Camp Road will ultimately provide three lanes in each direction (for a total of six lanes) beginning at Antonio Parkway and extending four miles to the east where it will connect with Ortega Highway, near Caspers Wilderness Park. The first phase (nearly 1.5 miles) of Cow Camp Road is now open from Antonio Parkway to a location near the future intersection of Los Patrones Parkway at the eastern edge of Esencia.
Key to the first phase of Cow Camp Road has been the design, engineering and construction of the Chiquita Canyon Bridge which spans 1,420 linear feet long and rises 75 feet above the protected open spaces of Chiquita Canyon.
In addition to affording quick access to Esencia, Cow Camp Road will benefit local residents by providing alternative routes to existing arterials (including Ortega Highway and the I-5 Freeway) as well as quick access to the SR-241 toll road (aka the FTC or Foothill Toll Road/Transportation Corridor) at Oso Parkway via the future construction of Los Patrones Parkway.
Not included in SCRIP yet identified as part of the County of Orange’s 2004-approved transportation program for Rancho Mission Viejo is Los Patrones Parkway (formerly known as “F” Street), identified as a secondary arterial linking Cow Camp Road to the current Oso Parkway terminus of the SR-241 toll road (aka FTC or Foothill Toll Road/Transportation Corridor). The Transportation Corridor Agencies has announced its intention to place a toll charge on Los Patrones Parkway, between Cow Camp Road and Oso Parkway.
The extension of La Pata Road from Ortega Highway, south to Avenida Vista Hermosa is now open. This new route will establish an important South Orange County parallel to the I-5 Freeway, allowing commuters to bypass the I-5 as they travel from as far north as Rancho Santa Margarita via Antonio Parkway, and south to La Pata and San Clemente where they can connect to the I-5 Freeway from Avenida Vista Hermosa. In addition, the future construction of Los Patrones Parkway would establish a new “toll road to freeway” network, starting from the current terminus of the SR-241 toll road, and heading south along Los Patrones Parkway, to Cow Camp Road, and then south again along Antonio Parkway/La Pata Road to Avenida Vista Hermosa.
PROVIDING A RELIABLE WATER SUPPLY
In 2004, the County of Orange approved the Rancho Mission Viejo Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which includes a detailed analysis of the Ranch’s water sources, current and future projected demand from development, and water availability to demonstrate the availability of water supply for average, single dry-year and multiple dry-year rainfall conditions. In addition, analyses were conducted to determine the adequacy of water conveyance and/or storage facilities and the certainty of regulatory permitting for development-related projects yet to be implemented.
Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) is the urban water supplier identified for Rancho Mission Viejo. SMWD is a regulated public utility which also serves various cities and the unincorporated territory in southeast Orange County. Rancho Mission Viejo is wholly within SMWD’s service area.
REDUCING WATER DEMAND
While today’s new homes use about 50% less water than most older homes, Rancho Mission Viejo continues to lead the housing industry in implementing programs which help reduce water demand through the use of drought tolerant landscaping along with modern irrigation techniques.
In fact, through a partnership between SMWD and the Rancho Mission Viejo family, a new comprehensive landscape water conservation program was created to reduce the water footprint at each of the villages on Rancho Mission Viejo. To date, we’ve reduced annual domestic water demand at the villages on The Ranch from 8,500 acre-feet to about 5,700 acre-feet resulting in an overall 33% reduction.
ENSURING WATER QUALITY AND PRESERVING WETLANDS AND THE WATERSHED
Preserving downstream water quality, protecting the stability of local creeks and watersheds, as well as promoting on-site wetlands/riparian habitat protection has been an on-going priority for the Rancho Mission Viejo family for decades.
On Earth Day, April 14, 1994, the 105-acre Gobernadora Ecological Restoration Area (GERA) was created on Ranchlands in corporation between the Ranch family and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Originally established as mitigation for the building of new roads, schools and other facilities, GERA has since become recognized as one of the most successful transformations of former farmlands into wetlands and woodlands.
In 1999, a series of scientific studies on the remaining 23,000 acres of Rancho Mission Viejo were expanded to include an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) program to preserve and enhance wetlands, manage water run-off, and protect water quality in the San Juan and Santa Mateo creeks. This research, combined with the identification of ranchlands containing native habitat of threatened and endangered animals, became the environmental blueprint for the establishment of the Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo and those lands identified for development. This research was expanded under leadership of the County of Orange and funded by Rancho Mission Viejo to analyze the 173 square mile watershed of the San Juan Creek to understand rainfall runoff, risk for flooding, and effects of erosion.
In the early 2000s, Rancho Mission Viejo began working in partnership with the County of Orange, SMWD, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the CA Dept. of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the ACOE on a complex “riverine” system at Ladera Ranch designed to reduce storm water runoff, preserve downstream water quality, protect the stability of Trabuco Creek, and promote on-site wetlands/riparian habitat restoration.
Through a narrow, 2.4-mile manmade seasonal creek bed or “riverine,” rain water and water from sprinklers, pools and other neighborhood sources are collected in a network of drains which are connected to the riverine. As it periodically and seasonally fills with water, the riverine carries water on a course that passes through specially planted reeds and other flora, which serve as natural filters and water purifiers. Ultimately, the water enters the Horno Basin (and the most southern end of Ladera Ranch) for further filtration.
Over its 34 acres, the Horno Basin includes a water quality control basin and wetland, a retarding basin, a “smart diversion” system, and a forebay for collecting sediment. Together, the riverine and Horno Basin serves several functions including water quality control, trash/debris collection, wetlands and habitat restoration, water reclamation, and storm water detention.
Based on the success of Ladera Ranch’s “riverine” system, Rancho Mission Viejo has collaborated with SMWD and Orange County Public Works on the new Gobernadora Multi-Purpose Basin facility. Upon completion, the Basin will include multiple storage basins which work together to capture, treat, and reuse storm water and dry weather urban water runoff from Coto de Caza once it flows into the Gobernadora Creek watershed. Water not diverted for non-potable water use will be infiltrated into the local groundwater table and sent downstream for sustaining natural riverine areas.
Key to the Gobernadora Basin facility will be its erosion control system to protect GERA and endangered bird species. Water conveyed into the Basin through a naturalized treatment system will be treated as it moves through an 11-acre wetlands which includes vegetation which filters and absorb pollutants and emits oxygen to enhance air quality. The use of this natural biological water treatment system will prevent the need for any power use in the treatment process since water will flow from one basin to the next via gravity. It also will prevent the discharge of polluted runoff into streams and important habitat areas. Plus, by controlling water flows through the Basin, excess erosion will be prevented and downstream habitat will be preserved.