Category Archives: Community Profile

The Village of Turtle Ridge

Note by zovall: This post is written by my wife, Nilam. She took some pictures around Turtle Ridge and provided some thoughts on the area. We'd love to hear your comments on Turtle Ridge as well as her first post.

Located on the southernmost border of Irvine, Turtle Ridge is one of the city's few hillside villages. Unlike most areas of Irvine, Turtle Ridge does not have a commercial shopping center, nor does it have any office or industrial buildings. It is almost exclusively residential, with a few exceptions. Turtle Ridge's borders are Bonita Canyon Dr. and Shady Canyon to the north, the 73 Freeway to the south, and Bommer Canyon to the east. It neighbors University Hills, Turtle Rock, and Newport Coast, which means it has close access to UCI, Fashion Island and the beach.

Turtle Ridge contains several gated communities, the costliest being the guard gated Summit which is where the traditional single family detached homes are. Turtle Ridge is next to 735 acre Bommer Canyon, one of Irvine's nature preserves. No housing or commercial structures will be built on this land preserve. Additional gated communities, detached condos, are found off of Summit Park (Chantory and Arborel) and Shady Canyon (Canyon's Edge). The remaining ungated tracts (Ashton Green and Whispering Glen) are attached condos and are found off of Summit Park. Turtle Ridge was constructed in the mid 2000's and pretty much all homes are Tuscan style, regardless of whether the home is a single family detached home, condominium or apartment. While consistently attractive (to me, anyway), it does feel cookie cutter with Every…single…home…brown topped with red roof tiles.

The village has one apartment complex – you guessed it, Turtle Ridge Apartments, which is located at the very west part between the 73, Bonita Canyon Drive and Newport Coast Drive. The apartment community is gated and has tot lots and several types of floorplans including some that are townhome style. It's conveniently located right off of the 73 toll road and is an Irvine Apartment Community, which means it, like most apartments in Irvine, is owned by the Irvine Company.

Within the village is Las Lomas Community Park, a large municipal facility that includes soccer fields, baseball fields, a tot lot, basketball and tennis courts, and an indoor recreation center that can be rented for events. The community center also provides classrooms for courses offered by the city of Irvine. Las Lomas is gorgeous but the tot lot is not shaded and can get quite warm in the summer.

Next to Las Lomas Community Park is Vista Verde K-8 year round school, which formerly was located in University Park, off of Michelson. The school is a K-8 Blue Ribbon school and is an “alternative school,” meaning interested students from all over Irvine are welcome to apply. Students with siblings who attend the school are given priority and all others are given priority to enroll based on a lottery system. Apparently people really REALLY want their kids to go here.

Across the street from Vista Verde is the Samueli Jewish Campus which consists of the Merage Jewish Community Center and the Tarbut V'Torah school.

And just down the street on the other side of Turtle Ridge Drive is Mariners Church. Both facilities are incredibly large, attractive and impressive and offers schools and extensive facilities. Mariners Church is so large that the Irvine Police Department directs traffic every Sunday morning to ensure that the area doesn't become backed up.

Nestled between Merage JCC and Vista Verde school is Sepulveda Vista Point. The views from here are fantastic, especially on a clear, smog-free day. You can see a great deal of Orange County, and I'd say it's one of the best views in Irvine. It's kind of hidden, though, so you have to look for it.

A second lookout point (Bommer Canyon Vista Point) is located off of Summit Park. One of the great things about Turtle Ridge is that there are a lot of designated walking paths and since the area is hilly, you can get a decent bit of exercise walking/running/biking those paths. What's not so great is that there really is nowhere to walk to that's less than several miles away; no Yogurtland, no nail salon, no grocery store. Sure, you could walk to UCI or to Pavilions off of Bonita Canyon, but it's a bit of a hike. I suppose you could walk to Mariner's Church and have lunch or grab coffee at their cafe, but it's not the same as being able to walk to a center like Woodbury or University Town Center.

Most of Turtle Ridge is quiet. It does sit adjacent to the 73 but because the freeway is elevated in comparison to much of the community, you can't really hear the freeway too much. All in all, I'd say it's a nice community to live in. Do any of you live here? What do you like and/or dislike about it?

Irvine's Rancho San Joaquin

Rancho San Joaquin is a small Irvine Village comprised mostly of high density residential housing. What makes this Village unique is the abundance of recreational activities.

Rancho San Joaquin Map

Rancho San Joaquin is bounded by Culver Drive, Michelson Drive, University Drive, and Harvard Avenue. It forms a buffer area between residential developments to the east and the commercial area on Jamboree and the Newport Bay wash to the west.

Rancho San Joaquin Irvine Historical Museum

The Irvine Historical Museum is located here. Did you even know it existed?

Rancho San Joaquin Senior Center

There is an active senior center.

Rancho San Joaquin Sign 2

The Racquet Club of Irvine calls Rancho San Joaquin home.

Rancho San Joaquin Racquet club

Clubhouse at the racquet club.

Rancho San Joaquin Golf Club 1

The Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course is here.

Rancho San Joaquin Golf Club 2

The property has nice views of the Airport area developments.

Rancho San Joaquin Golf Club 3

The course is open to the public and receives a great deal of play.

Rancho San Joaquin Golf Club 4

Par 3 # 13. Don’t be short or right.

Rancho San Joaquin Boomers 1

One of my favorite places in (or near) Rancho San Joaquin is Boomers.

Rancho San Joaquin Boomers 2

The local kids play castle.

Rancho San Joaquin Boomers 3

Speed climbing wall.

Rancho San Joaquin Boomers 4

Laser tag.

Rancho San Joaquin Boomers 5

Batting cages.

Rancho San Joaquin Boomers 6

Go carts for small kids.Rancho San Joaquin Boomers 7

Carnival rides for all ages.

Rancho San Joaquin Boomers 8

Go carts for older kids and the young at heart.

Rancho San Joaquin Boomers 10

Landscaped mini-golf.

Rancho San Joaquin Boomers 11

Bumper boats.

Rancho San Joaquin Apartments 1

The high density housing includes Rancho San Joaquin Apartments. Some have nice golf course views.

Rancho San Joaquin Apartments 2

There is an internal waterway winding through the community.

Rancho San Joaquin Apartments 3

The Villas townhome community.

Rancho San Joaquin House 1

There are a variety of condos.

Rancho San Joaquin House 2

The architecture is nice, but not award winning.

Rancho San Joaquin House 3

Most of the properties are very well kept.

Rancho San Joaquin Sign 3

Rancho San Joaquin is a relatively affordable Irvine neighborhood with an abundance of recreational activities, and it is conveniently located near the Culver / 405 interchange. If you work hard and play hard, this is the Village for you.

Irvine’s Rancho San Joaquin: A great place to live.

Irvine's The Ranch

Another Irvine village which is not widely known is The Ranch.

The Ranch Map

The Ranch is bounded by Yale Avenue, Irvine Center Drive, Jeffrey Road and the railroad tracks. It is north or Woodbridge and East of Deerfield. The communities of Windwood, Deerfield and The Ranch form a gradient of decreasing housing densities and increasing house sizes. With the exception of the condominium complex of Smoketree, the Ranch is almost exclusively large, single-family detached housing.

The Ranch Brady Bunch

There is a mixture of one and two story houses. This one is your typical “American Dream” home with a white picket fence.

The Ranch main entry

The main entry off of Irvine Center Drive features an attractive greenspace park.

The Ranch Parks Map

There are not many parks or amenities in The Ranch. The main greenspace features of the community are the preserved windrows which have been used to link the various neighborhoods together with the central park and recreation space.

Ranch Hedgerow

The preserved hedgerows gave the community instant maturity.

The Ranch Path 1

The pathways are attractive and inviting.

The Ranch Path 2

These are large, mature eucalyptus trees.

The Ranch Park

All the greenspace corridors lead to the central park area.

The Ranch Park 2

The greenspace is large, but it is not used for formal sports activities.

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The Ranch Path 3

There is another park on the east side of The Ranch separating it from Smoketree.

The Ranch Park 3

There is another children’s tot lot.

The Ranch Park 4

Between the houses and the railroad tracks is a wide buffer for power lines which is used as a bike trail.

The Ranch Park 5

This sets the homes a considerable distance away from the railroad tracks.

The Ranch House 1

Large houses are common in The Ranch. Perhaps not this large…

The Ranch House 2

The houses all display pride in ownership.

The Ranch House 3

There is a variety of architectural styles.

The Ranch House 5

I liked this one with its boulder landscaping.

The Ranch House 6

The wide lots permit houses with elevations wide enough not to be dominated by a three car garage.

The Ranch Sign 2

The Ranch is a perfect village for a homeowner who wants a large home on a large lot with minimal park facilities and a no mello roos or HOA fee. This neighborhood is atypical for Irvine in that regard.

Irvine’s The Ranch: a great place to live.

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Irvine's Windwood

Irvine is full of neighborhoods both big and small. One of the relatively unknown small neighborhoods of Irvine is Windwood.

Windwood Map

The neighborhood of Windwood is bounded by Culver Drive, Irvine Center Drive, Harvard Avenue and the railroad tracks. It is really a transitional neighborhood buffering what was the Tustin air base from the residential core of Irvine. It is too small to have a wide variety or products, and its proximity to the railroad tracks and the large Culver Plaza commercial center made it an ideal location for high-density condos and apartments.

Windwood Apartments

One of the apartment complexes is Windwood Glen. This complex has 1, 2 and 3 bedroom flats. There are no garages or in-unit laundry facilities.

Windwood Park 1

Another complex is Windwood Knoll. This complex has 1, 2 and 3 bedroom flats and townhomes larger than Windwood Glen. There are no garages or in-unit laundry facilities.

Windwood Townhomes

An ownership community called Windwood Townhomes.

Windwood House 1

There is also a neighborhood of single-family detached condos.

Windwood House 2

This one is attractive and well kept.

Windwood Park 2

The park facilities are very good. There were plenty of children at the park, probably due to its proximity to the apartment complexes.

Windwood Park 3

Windwood even has its own tennis center.

Windwood Park 4

There is one of those multi-stop exercise pathways weaving through the community.

Windwood Park 5

The real hidden gem in Windwood is Flagstone Park. It is a large green, open space behind the housing against the railroad tracks.

Windwood Park 6

As you can see, you can have a large open lawn all to yourself.

Windwood Park 7

There is also a bike trail along the railroad tracks.

Windwood Park 8

The walking trail inside the community is wide and winding.

Windwood Street

There is an unusually sharp turn in the main collector street, Deerfield Drive. Sometimes it is sharper than drivers realize. The planners of Irvine have made mistakes.

Windwood Culver Plaza 1

One of the best features of Windwood is Culver Plaza.

Windwood Culver Plaza 2

The newly renovated food court has a selection of fast food outlets and a coffee shop (the recipe for a successful urban plaza).

Windwood Culver Plaza 3

The landscaping separates the eating area from the parking lot.

Windwood Culver Plaza 4

There is a definite Asian influence at this plaza with several of the business names reflecting a tie to the orient.

Windwood Culver Plaza 5

The Sam Woo Restaurant.

Windwood Sign 2

Windwood will probably not attain the notoriety of other neighborhoods in Irvine, but it has something unique to offer its residents. The preponderance of transitional housing will mean few people will identify with the community and consider it their “home,” but its vibrant commercial center and well-maintained facilities make for a comfortable existence.

Irvine’s Windwood: A great place to live.

Irvine's Westpark

Westpark Sign 5

Irvine’s Westpark is a large community west of Woodbridge forming a buffer between the business and industrial area around the John Wayne airport and the residential heart of Irvine. The community is bounded by the 405 on the south, Culver Drive to the east, Irvine Center Drive to the north, and both Harvard Avenue or the wash which separates the western office parks from residential Irvine.

Westpark Map

The community is bisected by several cross streets including Main, Alton Parkway, Barranca Parkway, and Warner Avenue. Paseo Westpark is the north/south collector conveying traffic through the community.

Westpark Sign 2

Westpark is the quintessential community of the late 80’s and 90’s. It’s curvilinear streets, large, front-loaded stucco houses of similar size and character, and numerous parks were definitive of the era.

Westpark Street 1

The collector streets are wide, curvilinear and attractively landscaped. Whenever I think of Westpark, I think of John Mellencamp‘s song Little Pink Houses. Drive around Westpark, and you will understand why.

Westpark Pink House 1

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Westpark Pink House 2

Westpark Pink House 3

Westpark Pink House 4

Westpark Pink House 5

Westpark Pink House 6

The above sequence was shot in three different, typical neighborhoods. Can you tell them apart?

Westpark Pink House 7

Despite the sameness of the neighborhoods, the individual properties are very attractive.

Westpark Street 2

Most of the local streets are front loaded and not very attractive, but this particular neighborhood is rear-loaded and quite attractive.

Westpark Apartments 1

There are several apartment complexes and condominium apartments.

Westpark Apartments 2

I do not think these glorified apartments sold as condominiums are a good idea. They have a single carport space and open parking. Why would you want to own your apartment?

Westpark Apartments 3

As apartments go, the complexes in Westpark are very nice.

Above is the entrance to San Carlo.

Westpark Apartments 4

San Mateo.

They have a variety of sizes and levels of quality.

Westpark Apartments 5

Santa Rosa.

Westpark Apartments 6

San Remo.

Westpark Apartments 7

Santa Maria.

Not shown above are Villa Coronado, San Leon Villa, San Marco Villa, San Marino Villa, and San Paulo.

Westpark Sign 2

The original village of Westpark is aptly named “Westpark Village One.” It is the only sub-neighborhood in Westpark (that I could find) with its own identity.

Westpark Trails 1

There are not many trails through the neighborhoods of Westpark. it is surprising given the preponderance of them in other early neighborhoods. Westpark is much like other subdivisions of its era except that it has more parks.

Westpark Park 1

Westpark Village One community center.

Westpark Park 2

The park in Village One has all the amenities.

Westpark Park 3

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Westpark Park 4

The tot lot looks new.

Westpark Park 5

The pool is large and popular.

Westpark Homes 4

The houses in Village One are unique and more varied than later villages. I found this home particularly unique. Notice the landscaping is part of the house itself.

Westpark Sign 3

The sub-neighborhoods have unique signage, but no name identity.

Westpark Homes 1

An area of higher density condos.

Westpark Street

Another condominium complex.

Westpark Sign 4

Each of the Westpark identity signs is different.

Westpark Homes 2

Another view of the unique alley-loaded neighborhood.

Westpark Homes 3

This neighborhood stands is stark contrast to the garage dominated neighborhoods in Westpark.

Westpark School 1

The schools in Westpark are very highly rated.

Westpark School 2

The school facilities are first-rate.

Westpark School 3

Westpark School 4

Westpark School 5

Westpark Plaza 1

One of two suburban plazas in Westpark is Westpark Plaza.

Westpark Plaza 2

There are plenty of opportunities for entertainment.

Westpark Plaza 3

The suburban plaza is vibrant and well designed.

Westpark Plaza 4

Westpark Plaza 5

The second suburban plaza is in the complex on Barranca Parkway. It is newly renovated, but it still hasn’t caught on with the community.

Westpark Office

There is only office building in Westpark, and it is one of my favorites in Irvine. I used to commute past this building, and I was always impressed with its appearance.

Westpark Park 6

What really gives Westpark its identity is its variety of parks.

Westpark Park 7

San Marco Park.

Westpark Park 8

San Leandro Park is adjacent to an elementary school.

Westpark Park 9

The tot lots are newly renovated.

Westpark Park 10

San Marino park has all the amenities.

Westpark Park 11

Westpark Park 12

The pool is popular with residents.

Westpark Park 13

Santa Clara Park.

Westpark Park 14

Santa Ynez Park.

Westpark Park 15

Plaza Park is also near an elementary school.

Westpark Park 16

Children at play.

Westpark Homes 5

Westpark is also home to a number of very large, beautiful homes.

Westpark Homes 6

Two Mercedes parked in the driveway: Hmmm…

Westpark Homes 7

I like this one.

Westpark Homes 8

If the house is big enough, even a 3-car garage doesn’t dominate the elevation.

Westpark Homes 9

Maybe the song should be Big Pink Houses…

Westpark Sign

Irvine’s Westpark is a large and varied community. There are many different nieghborhoods and many different housing products. The core of Westpark is a series of neighborhoods with very similar housing stock: a collection of little pink houses.

Irvine’s Westpark: a great place to live.

Well theres people and more people

What do they know know know

Go to work in some high rise

And vacation down at the gulf of mexico

Ohhh yeah

And theres winners, and theres losers

But they aint no big deal

cuz the simple man baby pays for the thrills,

The bills and the pills that kill

Chorus:

Oh but aint that america for you and me

Aint that america were someting to see baby

Aint that america, home of the free

Little pink houses for you and me

Oh but aint that america for you and me

Aint that america were someting to see baby

Aint that america, home of the free

Little pink houses for you and me

Little Pink HousesJohn Mellencamp