() is a city located in southern Orange County, California in the Saddleback Valley and has been named the
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.