Category Archives: Community Profile

Irvine's Deerfield

In the heart of Irvine there are a number of small neighborhoods that are less well known than Woodbridge or Turtle Rock or some of the other larger or newer communities. These neighborhoods are no less interesting or well planned than their more famous brethren. One of these hidden gems is the community of Deerfield.

Deerfield Map

Deerfield is north of Woodbridge bounded by Irvine Center Drive, Culver Drive, Yale Avenue and the rail line which bisects Irvine. Deerfield Avenue is the main collector street moving traffic throughout the community. There is an apartment complex at the corner of Irvine Center and Culver, and there is other high-density housing north of Deerfield Avenue near the railroad tracks. The remaining housing is a mixture of one and two story dwellings. Deerfield was one of the earlier communities developed. It’s buildout was complete in 1976.

Deerfield Map 2

Life in Deerfield revolves around the large community park. This park together with an elementary and middle school comprise a large central greenspace. There are a series of pathways linking three satellite parks to the community park. This is a great master plan which allows children to walk or bike to school or the park without crossing busy streets.

Deerfield Park 1

Deerfield Community Park has great play areas. Notice the high, double-corkscrew slide — great fun for the young at heart.

Deerfield Park 2

There is another tot lot for smaller children with safety swings.

Deerfield Park 3

Another Frisbee golf course, apparently a popular feature for parks in the 60’s and 70’s.

Deerfield Park 4

Frisbee golf is still played today…

Deerfield Park 5

The community park has a building staffed year round.

Deerfield Park 6

There are also volley ball courts and tennis courts.

Deerfield School 1

The north end of the central greenspace is occupied by Venado Middle School and

Deerfield School 2

Deerfield Elementary School.

Deerfield Path

The trails link the central park to satellite parks. As you can see, these are used by the locals.

Deerfield Park 7

Northern Park (pool not shown).

Deerfield Park 8

Eastern park with children at play.

Deerfield Park 9

Western park and pool.

Deerfield Sign 2

There are apartments and high density condominiums in Deerfield. The density is lower than the adjacent Windwood community behind Culver Plaza, and it is higher than the adjacent community The Ranch.

Deerfield House 1

There are attractive single-story homes.

Deerfield House 2

Many show pride of ownership.

Deerfield House 3

Landscaping you only find in mature communities.

Deerfield House 4

There is also a mixture of two-story homes.

Deerfield House 6

Plenty of pretty flowers…

Deerfield House 7

The varied architecture and mature landscaping makes for an attractive street scene.

Deerfield Street 1

The sub-neighborhoods have landscaped entries, but there is no names to give further identity.

Deerfield House 8

A Lamborghini is going to stand out no matter where you park it, but it seems out-of-character with the modest, working-class homes in Deerfield. So what do you think? HELOC? Visitor? Car rich and house poor? Recent lottery winner?

Deerfield Sign 3

Deerfield is a nice neighborhood to live and raise children. The central park gets plenty of use, and it provides a unifying element where neighbors meet neighbors and children play together outside. It doesn’t have the fame of Irvine’s other neighborhoods, but it is no less desirable as a place to call home.

Irvine’s Deerfield: a great place to live.

Irvine's Turtle Rock

Turtle Rock is a neighborhood in the south part of Irvine, near the University of California, Irvine. It is bounded to the north by University Drive and Mason Regional Park, to the east by the Strawberry Farms Golf Club and Ridgeline Drive, to the south by Shady Canyon Drive, and to the west by Culver Drive. Turtle Rock is one of the five “villages” originally forming Irvine; its 1967 founding is commemorated by a sculpture of a turtle in Turtle Rock Community Park, at the corner of Turtle Rock and Sunnyhill Drives. The villages of Turtle Rock, University Park, Culverdale, the Ranch and Walnut were completed by 1970.

Turtle Rock Map

Geographically, Turtle Rock lies in the San Joaquin Hills. It’s unclear where the name “Turtle Rock” comes from; although the highest peak in the neighborhood is also sometimes called Turtle Rock, it has no official name. A lower peak to the north within the neighborhood is called French Hill.

Turtle Rock Panorama 1

Click on the image above for a much larger version.

Click on this link to download a high resolution version: Turtle Rock Panorama 1 – Large

Above is a panorama shot from the “Turtle Rock” peak. The panorama extends from the southwest looking toward Corona Del Mar to the east toward Portola Springs. Unfortunately there is no easy way to get to the top of the hill. Unlike “Top of the World” in Laguna Beach, you cannot drive to this spot. Your blogger had some hiking to do…

Turtle Rock Mound

Actually, this is part of the fun of doing these community profiles. If I lived in Turtle Rock, I would climb this hill. As you can see from the panorama, the view is sublime. This would be a great location for meditation or simply taking a few moments to contemplate life. Since you can’t drive there, when you arrive at the top of the hill, your heart rate is elevated, and the endorphins make you feel euphoric. That feeling is part of the experience of the view. It is a special joy reserved for residents.

Turtle Rock view of Shady Canyon

The view from the South is just as spectacular as the view from the North, but it is a bit more difficult to photograph. The above picture shows Turtle Rock in the foreground, and Shady Canyon beyond.

Turtle Rock view to east

Looking east you have Saddleback Peak from the top of Turtle Rock.

Turtle Rock Sign 2

There are three major entry points into Turtle Rock: Ridgeline Drive from the 405 south, Campus Drive and Culver from the 405 north, and Shady Canyon Drive from the 73. The entry above is adjacent to the Shady Canyon entrance at the southern edge of Turtle Rock. It displays the characteristic look of the signage and landscaping which typifies Turtle Rock.

Turtle Rock Entry 1

As you come up Ridgeline Drive to enter Turtle Rock from the east, you pass between the Strawberry Farms golf course and a preserved hillside of Turtle Ridge. The first neighborhood you come to is Turtle Rock Pointe; an exclusive, gated community overlooking the golf course.

Turtle Rock Park 1

The main loop road uniting Turtle Rock is Turtle Rock Drive. Near the intersection of this road with Ridgeline is Canyon Park. Like the other parks in Turtle Rock, it has a pool and a tot lot. In the photo above a college student is playing with her dog.

Turtle Rock Entry 3

Adjacent to the park is the Turtle Rock Summit Towne Collection.

Turtle Rock Entry 2

A little farther down Turtle Rock Drive is the guard-gated enclave of Turtle Rock Summit.

Turtle Rock Street 1

Turtle Rock Drive is an attractive street with several areas bordering on the preserved hillsides.

Turtle Rock Park 4

The park serving the west side of Turtle Rock Drive has one of the sculptural turtles symbolizing the community.

Turtle Rock Park 8

Serving the southwest portion of Turtle Rock Drive is Chaparral Park. BTW, there are no kids in these parks because the pictures were taken during school hours.

Turtle Rock Entry 4

The top of the community is neighborhood known as Turtle Rock Crest.

Turtle Rock Crest Home 1

Turtle Rock has a higher percentage of large, single-family detached homes than do the other neighborhoods in Irvine. This is one of the reasons it is considered one of Irvine’s premier places to live.

Turtle Rock Park 2

A park in Turtle Rock Crest.

Turtle Rock Crest Home 2

Another typical Turtle Rock Crest Home.

Turtle Rock Crest Home 3

And another…

Turtle Rock Park 2

Turtle Rock Community Park is a large park at the south end of Turtle Rock. Though open to the public, its location at the south end of Turtle Rock makes it reasonably accessible only to residents of Turtle Rock, Turtle Ridge and Shady Canyon.

Turtle Rock Park 3

French Hill and the surrounding housing viewed across Turtle Rock Community Park.

Turtle Rock Walk 1

One of the great features of Turtle Rock is the walking trail system. You can easily walk from the south end of Turtle Rock Community Park (above picture along the stream) to University High School on the North end of the Community going around the hills in either direction.

Turtle Rock Walk 2

Walking up the hill going north.

Turtle Rock Walk 3

If you walk these trails a lot, you will be in excellent physical condition. Turtle Rock is hilly.

Turtle Rock Walk 4

Turtle Rock Walk 5

In a few locations, long tunnels are built under the road so pedestrians do not have to cross the street. In other communities, this would be a safety problem, but this is Irvine…

Turtle Rock Walk 6

The trails are well maintained, beautiful and shady.

Turtle Rock Walk 7

Several parks occur along the trail system path.

Turtle Rock Walk 8

Turtle Rock Walk 8

You might even see wildlife on your walk…

Turtle Rock Walk 9

It is an impressive trail system.

Turtle Rock Walk 10

With locations for every mood.

Turtle Rock Walk 10

The trail system links the homes to the schools.

Schools within Turtle Rock include Turtle Rock Elementary School, Bonita Canyon Elementary School, University High School, and Concordia University.

Turtle Rock Elementary

Turtle Rock Elementary 2

Turtle Rock Elementary 3

Unfortunately, there really is not any commercial center or suburban plaza associated with Turtle Ridge. The center of community life is its neighborhood parks…

Turtle Rock Park 5

The neighborhood park in the Highlands is typical of those in Turtle Ridge.

Turtle Rock Entry 5

Turtle Rock is designed as a series of neighborhoods with their own identity accessed from Turtle Rock Drive.

Turtle Rock Home 1

Even the lower elevation neighborhoods have larger homes.

Turtle Rock Home 2

All of the homes are very well maintained.

Turtle Rock Home 3

There is a mixture of single-story and two-story homes. Note the backyard with natural open space populated with boulders.

Turtle Rock Home 4

I couldn’t resist photographing this one. There was enough HELOC money to purchase two new luxury cars and fill the garage with junk so the cars are parked outside on display, but there was not enough left over to put grass or landscaping the in the front yard. OK, this is Turtle Rock; perhaps these people actually make that much money…Turtle Rock Park 6

The Highlands shows the typical land planning pattern with a park at the entry.

Turtle Rock Entry 6

The Sierra Ridge neighborhood is on the west side of Turtle Rock.

Turtle Rock Park 7

It has a beautiful entry park with a tot lot, pool, basketball, and an open green space for flag football, picnics, etc.

Turtle Rock Home 5

This homeowner went all-out on his front yard landscaping.

Turtle Rock Entry 7

Another western Turtle Rock neighbhorhood. Note the homes from Turtle Ridge in the background.

Turtle Ridge Entry

Turtle Ridge is the new nighbhorhood between Turtle Rock and highway 73 begun in 1999.

Turtle Rock Park 9

Another neighborhood park with our friendly turtle.

Turtle Rock Street 3

Beautiful local streets.

Turtle Rock Park 10

Neighborhood pool with gas grill and picnic area.

Turtle Rock Park 10

Another typical neighborhood park.

Turtle Rock Home 6

The smaller homes also show great pride in ownership.

Turtle Rock Park 10

Too many parks, too little time…

Turtle Rock Park 10

Nature preserves and hiking trails are central to the community.

Turtle Rock Panorama 1

I hope these pictures have given you a sense of the quality of life in Turtle Rock. The community has a lot to offer: large homes, numerous parks, walking trails, nature preserves and hiking, etc. As you can see from the view, you are in the heart of Orange County, but the feeling of Turtle Ridge is more of a suburban fringe transitioning to rural. It does not feel as dense — or as claustrophobic — as some of the newer communities.

Irvine’s Turtle Rock: a great place to live.

Irvine's Woodbridge

Woodbridge is a large community in the heart of Irvine. Started in 1975 and completed in the early 1990’s, the community covers approximately four square miles bounded by Culver, Irvine Center Drive, Jeffrey and the 405. It is one of Irvine’s premier neighborhoods.

Woodbridge Map

Woodbridge is bisected into two residential segments, called North Lake and South Lake, by a broad stripe of retail, commercial and institutional development between Alton and Barranca. The lakes are between three and six feet deep and each is crossed by a large wooden footbridge, owing the village its name. A four-lane circular loop road, Yale Loop, runs around the interior of Woodbridge, connecting all its housing blocks and major streets. The village is walled off from the rest of Irvine by a row of pine trees and a continuous, 20-foot-high Privet hedge.

Yale Loop Home 2

In Great Streets by Allan B. Jacobs (MIT Press), Pinewood (street name) on the Northern edge of the village off of the Yale Loop, is cited as one of the great “new urban” streets. The houses of Yale Loop and the wall and hedge which surround the development act as a shield to disguise the high-density residential products which are situated between them.

Yale Loop Home 4

The design concept works very well. A casual observer seeing Woodbridge comes to believe the entire community is composed of large single family residential homes giving Woodbridge a high-end veneer.

Yale Loop Home 3

Woodbridge, for the most part, is uniformly designed in a New England Cape Cod style, creating a classical seaside village feel. Shed style houses are also abundant in Woodbridge.

Woodbridge Home 1

Even the more modest homes are very well maintained and show real pride of ownership.

Woodbridge Home 2



Woodbridge Home 4

Woodbridge Home 3

Residents who really “know” Woodbridge will tell you there is a hierarchy of desirability radiating outward from the center. Neighborhoods closer to the lakes have larger homes and are more desirable. People in this area are the creme de la creme, and they defecate without odor.

Ducks on North Lake

Those who live outside the loop are the “wannabes” who really aren’t worthy of Woodbridge’s aura of greatness. You must pardon my facetious banter, but I was given a very similar description by a long-time resident. Interesting that even within one of Irvine’s best neighborhoods, the competition to put oneself above others is notable.

Woodbridge HELOC

A Lexus and a BMW. A HELOC perhaps? No, everyone in Irvine makes enough money to afford a big house and two luxury cars…Woodbridge Street 1

There are other attractive streets in Woodbridge…

Woodbridge Street 2

Woodbridge Street 3

Each one of Woodbridge’s lakes has a “beach club” next to it, where there is a “lagoon” (a sand-surrounded fresh-water swimming pool that empties into the lake), a dock facility to rent pedal boats, kayaks, canoes, sailboats, and hydro-bikes.

North Lake View 2

Swimming is prohibited in the lakes, but many people swim or fall off of their boats into the water. The beach clubs also have two volleyball courts each. South lake has a recreation room and a snack shop in it also, which is only open at certain times throughout the year.

Northlake Swim Area

There are also two “swim clubs,” Stonecreek and Bluelake, on each side of Woodbridge. These have lifeguards all day 10-10 during summer, and weekends 10-5 during the winter. Stonecreek has a two-meter diving board, and Bluelake has a one meter and a three meter diving board. The Woodbridge swim teams are based out of Stonecreek. Woodbridge is home to Woodbridge High School.

Woodbridge High School

Twenty-four tennis courts, twenty of which are lit for night play, pathways, bikeways, and a plethora of recreational parks within the four square miles make Woodbridge a community of interest to young families as well as retirees who enjoy outdoor activities. Its community tennis club regularly trains young players who are ranked in the first hundred in their USTA age group.

Woodbridge Tennis

There are four elementary schools (there used to be a fifth, an alternative school, Alderwood, which got moved to Quail Hill), two middle schools, and Woodbridge High School.

Woodbridge School 1

Woodbridge School 2

One of the weaknesses of Woodbridge is the lack of a strong commercial gathering place. There isn’t a suburban plaza in Woodbridge that is very successful. The Woodbridge Community Center has been recently renovated because many of the retail businesses left and have been replaced by high end office tenants.

Woodbridge Community Center

There are other successful retail centers in Woodbridge, but none with a good suburban plaza. The center on Jeffrey and Alton has a suburban plaza which is designed correctly to be successful, but it is across from the successful Oak Creek suburban plaza and for whatever reason, it has not done as well.

Woodbridge Community Center 2

In my opinion, the best public space in Woodbridge is the southern half of North Lake. This section of north lake is adjacent to the semi-successful community center, and it is connected with a walkway over Barranca Parkway.

North Lake 2

There is a unique children’s tot lot which juts out into the lake on the north side of the bridge. This play area is a bit unnerving when your children are very young because it is so close to the water, but when your children are a bit more self-sufficient, it is a great place to sit and enjoy the lake while they play nearby. (Notice the little girl chasing the ducks.)

North Lake 3

North lake is beautiful.

North Lake 4

Toy sailboating, anyone?

North Lake 5

The gazebo is the lakes focal point.

North Lake 6

Fine dining at the Waters.

North Lake 7

Canadian Geese…

North Lake 8

Children feeding the ducks…

North Lake 9

A framed view of the distant mountains.

Woodbridge Seniors

Woodbridge is a community of all ages.

Woodbridge Senior Center

The Senior’s Center is first rate.

South Lake

Don’t forget South Lake. It is nice too.

North Lake 1

South lake looking north from Yale Loop.

Woodbridge Gardens

A community garden plot place in a retention basin.

Woodbridge Activities

There is a wide variety of activities.

Woodbridge Park 1

There are a great many parks and pools…

Woodbridge Park 2

This one is heated year round.

Woodbridge Park 3

Woodbridge Park 4

Woodbridge Park 5

Woodbridge Park 6

Anyone play horseshoes?

Woodbridge Park 7

Woodbridge Park 8

Woodbridge Park 9



Woodbridge Park 10

Woodbridge Park 11

Woodbridge Park 12

Woodbridge Park 13

My “Irvine” day was full of playing with the family between taking pictures. This style and quality of life is what makes Irvine such a unique place. I thoroughly enjoyed creating this community profile.

Irvine’s Woodbridge: a great place to live.

North Lake 10

If you liked the pictures above, see what the pros can do. Check out:

Hidden Woodbridge

Woodbridge North Lake

Irvine's Quail Hill

Quail Hill SignThe Quail Hill neighborhood of Irvine is located south of the 405 between Sand Canyon Avenue and Highway 133. South of Quail Hill is a nature preserve and the exclusive Shady Canyon. The primary access is from Sand Canyon and through a unique roundabout. The community increases in elevation from the entry point at Sand Canyon and the 405 to the southernmost portion of the site. The hill gets steeper as you go south, and many of the larger homes on top of the hill have spectacular views of Orange County.

Quail Hill Map

Nearest the entry to the community is the main commercial center gathering place. This is another suburban plaza that functions to provide a sense of place for the community. It is the “third place” for those living in Quail Hill and Shady Canyon.

Quail Hill Center 1

The designers used a combination of trellis work and glass enclosures to define the space and provide noise and wind buffering from the parking lot.

Quail Hill Center 2

An attractive water feature serves as a focal point for the center, and the falling water serves to mask the noise of cars moving in the parking area.

Quail Hill House 1

The homes in Quail hill are attractive and varied, although some of the neighborhoods are a bit too dense, in my opinion.

Quail Hill House 2

The front yards are typically elaborate landscaping rather than grass.

Quail Hill School

Alderwood Basics Plus School is a California Distinguished School typical of the high quality schools in the Irvine Unified School District.

Quail Hill View

The view from of the parks and houses is wonderful; however, the north exposure in Irvine means you don’t get sunsets over the ocean, but you get city lights and distant vistas. Nice place for a picnic, wouldn’t you say?

Quail Hill Park 1

The parks have gathering places for people of all ages.

Quail Hill Pool

The pools are all of the highest quality, and many offer panoramic views from your lounge chair.

Quail Hill Park 2

The children’s tot lots are some of the best in Irvine. They play areas are well landscaped and the groundcover is either sand or a soft rubberized compound which minimizes potential for injury.

Quail Hill Park 3

There are associated gathering areas for adults to have a small group of friends congregate around a fire.

Quail Hill Park 4

Did I mention the view? In case you wanted to enjoy the view while your children played below…

Irvine’s Quail Hill: a great place to live.

Irvine's Oak Creek

IrvineRenterThe Oak Creek Community in Irvine is bounded by Jeffrey Road and Woodbridge to the northwest, the 405 and open space to the southwest, Sand Canyon Road and a commercial district dominated by hospitals to the southeast, and Barranca Parkway and Orangetree to the northeast. Alton Parkway is the main arterial moving traffic through the area. Due to its proximity to the 405, the 5 and 133, it has great access to the surrounding area. Plus, it is 5 minutes from the Irvine Spectrum. Oak Creek is a newer community built in the late 90’s and early 00’s.

Oak Creek Map

One of the features that makes Oak Creek a successful neighborhood is the vibrant “third places” you will find there. A “third place” is a place of public gathering for social and recreational activities. This contrasts with the home and work environments and special purpose public places like grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses. Third places create the sense of place which makes a community identifiable, unique and special to the inhabitants.

Oak Creek Suburban Plaza

The suburban plaza at the shopping complex at Alton and Jeffrey is truly a special “third place.” It is one of the most functional suburban plazas I have ever encountered. It is rarely empty, and the variety of people provides a glimpse into the lives of those who call Oak Creek home.

Oak Creek Suburban Plaza 2

The central feature of Oak Creek is its elementary School.

Oak Creek Elementary

The park and ball fields are generally abuzz with activity.

Oak Creek Elementary Park

One very nice feature of the Oak Creek plan is the pedestrian crossing over Alton Parkway. It provides a safe link for children walking to the elementary school in the morning.

Oak Creek Crossing

There are several community parks in Oak Creek. They are all well designed and well maintained.

Oak Creek Park 1

The community pools are also first rate. Unfortunately, this pool is not heated. It doesn’t seem to bother the duck though (left side of picture).

Oak Creek Pool

The parks all have great play areas, shade structures and clean bathrooms.

Oak Creek Park 2

One of the unique features of Oak Creek is the multi-use trails built along both sides of the large drainage feature. This trail is great for bicycling, rollerblading, jogging, or walking.

Oak Creek Trails

Apparently, there is some available inventory in Oak Creek 🙂

Notice the random BMW?

Oak Creek Inventory

In many of the comments on the last community profile, people expressed concern over the lack of children in Irvine. Based on the pictures above, I think it is safe to say, Irvine is still for families.

Irvine’s Oak Creek: a great place to live.