While planners worked on the first area addressed in the Master Plan–the Coastal Sector–they were also thinking about the challenges they would face in the Valley Sector. The planners knew that coordinating with cities adjacent to The Irvine Ranch® would be difficult. Yet, to ensure that future opportunities in the Valley Sector were not hindered, they knew they would have to work closely with these cities on circulation and land use matters. With this in mind, a plan for the Irvine sphere of influence, which includes the City of Irvine, was submitted to the County of Orange early on to establish boundaries and to make planning intentions public.
The early planners recognized that the area stretching from the San Joaquin Foothills to the Santiago Hills–22,000 acres of predominantly flat land that comprise the central area of The Irvine Ranch–represented a unique opportunity to create a fully functioning, self-sufficient city that would reflect the benefits of long-range master planning.
Five philosophical objectives guided overall planning as the City of Irvine was created. Following are the initial objectives that are reflected in the city’s general plan:
Irvine is planned to be a self-sufficient community: It was proposed that Irvine would be a model new city where creative use of government and dedication of both private and public sectors would result in a more meaningful, quality environment. Irvine offers the best of its region, while avoiding the worst, and has planned for the regional needs of residents of other cities within the metropolitan area. Additionally, its industrial and commercial areas provide balance.
Irvine is conceived as a city of villages: The City of Irvine will include a combination of residential villages as well as commercial and industrial properties. Villages are small groups of neighborhoods linked together by paseos and corridors. These systems will organize, link together and transition villages and regional elements of the general plan. Villages also will include local parks, community open spaces and facilities and elementary schools. Villages will have their own distinct character, an identifiable center, unique relationship with the land and own sense of community.
Irvine will be a city of varying experiences and opportunities: This is achieved through a balance of living, working, shopping, learning and playing. The plan for Irvine proposed incorporating a regional scale of urban elements. It also included a major industrial complex, a commercial-financial complex, a regional recreation-commercial complex, and a series of specialty commercial centers-home, garden and transportation. The plan also includes a variety of residential land uses supporting diverse housing types and densities. The Irvine Company has long believed that for a community to fully thrive, it must encourage, accommodate and welcome individuals and families from all walks of life and income levels. Irvine has a wide variety of housing at various price points and densities, making it possible for a full spectrum of individuals and families to enjoy living in its communities.
Irvine is planned so that people can know where it is going and how it will get there: From parks and open space, to schools and residences, to circulation and sewer lines, and commercial and industrial spaces, it has all been accounted for. Irvine’s general plan proposed that the new city would have a circulation network that reinforced environmental and land use goals while providing effective and efficient traffic movement. A hierarchy of road systems would be developed that handled traffic capacity efficiently and minimized expenditures. Each circulation system element would be developed as a positive open space corridor, providing a visual impression and orientation to the area. The concentration of high-intensity land uses within the environmental corridors would provide for opportunities to develop future public transportation systems.
Irvine is a city that will improve with age, where time is on its side: The master plan for the City of Irvine provides for and encourages balanced growth in all segments of land use-residential, recreational, industrial and commercial. Continued aesthetic excellence will continue through homeowners associations and other organizations.
The commitment to the Irvine general plan continues to this day. City leaders and planners work together, guided by Irvine’s general plan, to ensure a quality environment for the City of Irvine and its future.